6 Proven Ways to Avoid Middle-Age Spread

Middle age spread happens to everyone, right?  It happened to your mom.  It happened to your dad, aunts and uncles.  Maybe your friends and maybe you too!  Come 40 or 50, the pounds seem to magically appear and none of them are where we want them to be.  They pile on right in the middle, right where we don’t want them, on our belly and backside.

You may think, “It’s just part of life.”  But it’s not.  Middle age spread is common, but it’s not inevitable.  As it turns out, there is a lot you can do to prevent middle age spread, all proven to work in a large study published in the most prestigious medical journal in the world.


The study published in the New England Journal of Medicine looked at over 120,000 young and middle aged health professionals who started at a normal weight and then followed them over 4 years.  The researchers tracked what they ate, how active they were and how much they slept.

What they found was quite interesting.  First was that middle age spread IS quite common.  The participants in the study gained a little less than a pound per year on average.  While that doesn’t sound like much at first glance, over time it makes a big difference.  In this study, an average normal weight person at 25 years old would gain 32 pounds by the time they hit 65!  Other studies have found that the average American might gain nearly twice this much.

Not surprisingly, what people ate and their activity levelwere very predictive of weight gain, but some of the specifics were surprising.

If you are looking to avoid weight gain as you get older (or reverse the process if it’s already started), here are the 6 things most important in preventing middle age spread:

1.   Get a good night’s sleep….but not too much!

  • Those who slept more than 8 hours or less than 6 hours a night on average, gained weight.

2.   Eat yogurt, nuts, fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

  • All of these foods were associated with weight loss. Interestingly, among these foods, yogurt and nuts were the most predictive of weight loss even though they are more calorie dense.  This is more evidence that the QUALITY of your calories is even more important than the QUANTITY.

3.   Avoid the TV.

  • Weight gain started with as little as an hour a day of TV and increased from there.

4.   Avoid eating red meat and potato chips.

  • Potato chips were the biggest contributor to weight gain in this study, but red meat, both processed (like bacon and hot dogs) and unprocessed (like steaks and hamburger) were associated with weight gain.

5.   Avoid drinking sugar drinks and alcohol.

  • Sugar sweetened beverages (more bad news for Coca-Cola and Pepsi) and alcohol were predictive of weight gain.

6.   Move

  • The winner and biggest predictor of weight loss was being physically active.

The more we know, the more we realize that “middle age spread” is not inevitable. It’s not as sexy as raspberry ketones, or other “weight loss miracles”, but regular exercise and a healthy diet really do work.

What will you do to avoid middle age spread?

Author Bio:

Dr. R. Todd Hurst, MD is a board certified cardiologist and Dr. Lisa Hurst, MD is a board certified internist.  After years of watching fad diets fail their patients they founded Achieve-Life, an online weight loss program,.  The program is a unique combination of tools and resources that can guarantee your weight loss. And now you have the opportunity to try the difference for free! 

Dr. R. Todd Hurst, MD

Dr. R. Todd Hurst, MD is a board certified cardiologist and Dr. Lisa Hurst, MD is a board certified internist. They founded Achieve-Life, a healthy, permanent weight loss program, after years of watching fad diets fail their patients. They've developed tools and resources that can guarantee your weight loss and now offer you the opportunity to try the difference for free! We share your excitement of FINALLY having the tools you need to achieve your weight loss goals!

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