Your body shape changes naturally as you get older. Cells start to age and don’t function as well as they used to. Maybe you’ve gained a little fat, or noticed that you don’t have as much muscle compared to when you were younger — don’t worry, these changes are natural and happen to everyone. In fact, it’s very common for many middle-aged men to want to change their body composition and shape.
Although most changes are unavoidable, scientific knowledge in ageing has advanced dramatically in recent years. Now, you can take specific steps that may slow down the process or even halt it all together (at least for a while).
How your body shape changes with age
Generally, the amount of fat you carry increases. For men, steady weight gain starts at around 30 years old and can continue until age 55. This excess weight tends to grow around the stomach.
At the same time, muscle mass and lean tissues start to decrease too. Your cells functionality becomes poorer and over time alters the tissues and structures that form inside you, ultimately changing how your body may look and feel.
Before jumping straight into how you can change, it’s essential to understand why these changes occur; primarily through 4 main hormones.
The 4 main male hormones
As males, you have four main anabolic hormones (hormones that create body tissue): Testosterone, Estrogen, Growth Hormone (GH) and Insulin (although typically, testosterone is labelled as the ‘male’ hormone and estrogen the ‘female’, both are found in men and women).
Each of these four hormones plays a vital role in how your body shape progresses as you age naturally. Let’s go through them:
This is the most popular and widely-known to be associated with males. It’s the primary sex hormone and plays a crucial role in the development of male reproductive tissues. Testosterone helps increase the typical masculine body shape (lean muscle mass, narrow hips and broad shoulders).
In some men, testosterone levels remain high throughout their life, but in the majority, testosterone levels and production decline around age 40.
Estrogen is the hormone that promotes the typical female body shape. Males can have high levels of estrogen, which can result in increased body fat (estrogen promotes fat storage in hips, thighs and stomach) and can contribute to health issues; like diabetes and high cholesterol.
#3. Growth hormone
The growth hormone is a small protein in charge of several physiologic processes, including growth and metabolism by boosting the production of protein and promoting the utilisation of fat (increasing lean body mass). GH production declines from middle age and onwards.
Insulin is responsible for allowing glucose in the bloodstream to enter cells, providing them with the energy to function or deciding to store the energy for later. It helps to keep your blood sugar levels from getting too high or too low. Unfortunately, tolerance to glucose declines with age and is often accompanied by insulin resistance.
It’s clear that for better body composition, men will need to increase testosterone and GH levels while decreasing Estrogen and Insulin levels. But how can we start working towards our ideal bodies?
How can I reverse the natural ageing effect?
Functional medicine looks to treat the root problem. You can never fully reverse the natural ageing effect, but here are some techniques that may help slow it down:
- Good sleeping patterns
- Lift heavy weights and intense exercise
- Decrease stress
- Consume healthy levels of Zinc and Vitamin D
- Regular sex
- Low carbohydrate diet (or even try fasting)
- Take supplements like Tribulus, Maca, Branch Chain Amino Acids, DIM and Arginine
- Lose weight
- Avoid environmental toxins
- Decrease soy intake due to estrogenic effects
Of course, simple calorie restrictions coupled with regular aerobic exercise will result in weight loss and increased health. However, the weight loss will usually be associated with the loss of muscles instead of fat.
How OT&P can help
Putting together a personal programme based on the above information requires a team approach. You’ll need a functional medicine practitioner to check and monitor your hormone levels, nutrition and basic health. As well as input from physical professionals to advise on your diet, lifestyle and exercise programme.
But most of all, you will need a strong commitment and determination to improve yourself. It’s not easy, but getting fit, lean and strong is possible with the right resources and mindset.