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Middle-age spread is not inevitable




Two truths about aging relate to the ease of acquiring a spare tire, and the difficulty in losing it. This frustrating phenomenon is settling on baby boomers and their elders.

Some call it creeping obesity. Doctors at Washington University say it takes only a few excess calories a day to gain a pound a year. On average, adults are gaining 25 pounds between age 25 and age 65.

Even worse, it has been discovered that older people have a reduced capacity to oxidize fat during exercise. In the case of sporadic exercisers, most of the energy they burn consists of carbohydrates.

But there's good news too. Physiologists at Washington University in St. Louis have proved that if older people exercise regularly, they can normalize their ability to oxidize fat. Their 16-week program did it for participants.

It consisted of 45 minutes of cycling, four or five times weekly. Metabolism was boosted, and people reduced body fat.

Defying conventional wisdom about the difficulty of spot-reducing, the volunteers succeeded in trimming their abdominal fat.

There is also a nutritional strategy. A common sense diet including fruits, vegetables, grains and lean protein helps burn calories, according to Harvard Medical School. Fitter people eating carbohydrate-based diets burn more calories.

The body burns off ten of every 100 calories consumed from carbohydrates, but only one or two of 100 calories from fat. And if you exercise within a couple of hours of a meal, you use up even more.

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