There are a lot of things that can be done to help you lose weight as you age. It doesn’t matter if you have battled weight for your entire life or for just a few years. While it is true that age can affect the number that shows up on your scale, it doesn’t mean that you have to accept those numbers and live with them. Just like varicose veins and crow’s feet showing up, gaining weight when you hit 50 is inevitable. It isn’t all in your mind. It does become harder to shed that extra weight after they have become complacent on the hips.
There are a few reasons why we have a tendency to pack on the pounds as we age and these are decreased activity and loss of muscle mass. Most women will experience a five to ten percent loss in their muscle mass every decade after they hit the age of 50. This causes your metabolism to decline by about two to three percent each decade.
You can eat exactly the same foods you did ten years ago but you are still going to gain weight.
As we age, we become more sedentary and this causes a kink in our metabolism as well. This holds true especially if you have developed arthritis in your joints that restrict your activities. As we age, we don’t do as many errands or physical activities. If we don’t use our muscles as we age, we will lose them.
These facts are scary but there are things we can do to help us take back control. We are not doomed to fail here. You can build your muscle mass back up to what it was when you were 30.
We might not have the energy or time to follow a rigorous workout schedule but if we can take the following advice to heart, we might just be able to fit into our favorite jeans for many more decades.
1. Eat More Protein
Supplementing protein will help build up muscle mass. Try to make sure that 30 to 40 percent of your daily calorie intake comes from protein. This all depends on what your body weight is now. A lean piece of fish or meat should take up about a third of your plate.
If you can spread the protein intake evenly throughout your day, you will be able to build muscle better. If you can eat equal amounts of protein at every meal, your muscle strength will increase better. If you don’t like eating protein at every meal, you can add yogurt or eggs to breakfast then have a handful of nuts or a glass of milk with lunch. This leaves you free to scale back or skip protein at dinner.
2. Resistance Training
Any type of exercise will help you lose weight, but it is important for you to lift weights to build muscle mass. Building muscle mass will help you lose weight faster. A study done with 60 obese adults that lifted weights didn’t lose muscle mass but did lose weight over an 18 month period. Any type of exercise that will build muscle like swimming or working with resistance bands will increase metabolism and burn calories.
Remember you don’t have to do a lot to get results. Just lifting weights two times a week can result in gaining around three pounds of muscle in just ten weeks. If you are able to increase your exercise program to another level, do it. Older adults who are able to add high-intensity interval training, that includes small intervals of high-intensity exercise, did lose weight but showed less damage to muscle cells. This, in turn, helps to trigger new muscle growth.
It is a proven fact that people who are obese or even overweight don’t sleep as well as people of average weight. When the body is sleep deprived, it will produce hormones that will increase hunger such as the hormone cortisol caused by stress and the hormone ghrelin that stimulates the appetite. Older women who get less than five hours of sleep each night are two times likely to be obese.
Try to keep your sleep schedule constant. This means you need to go to bed and get up at the same time each day. Older women who can’t or won’t follow this habit adds one more risk factor to becoming obese.
4. Fast Occasionally
This isn’t saying you need to start doing juice cleanses. Instead, try intermittent fasting. This can improve your health and trigger weight loss. In one study, people who only consumed 750 to 1000 calories just five days each month, lost about six pounds and up to two inches off their waistline. Their IGF-1 level and blood pressure dropped significantly as well.
How does this work? When you start to gain weight, the nerves of the hypothalamus that send signals from fat cells to your brain get damaged. This means your brain can’t tell that you are full and tells you to continue to eat.
When you take a day every now and then to not eat as much as you normally do, you will reduce the stress level on your hypothalamic nerve and this gives it time to heal. This rest day is very important for older individuals due to the damage stress can do to your weight.
How to get started? Take two days out of the week and only consume about 800 calories. Try to only eat vegetables, healthy oil like olive oil, and protein. To keep you feeling fuller, try a low carb diet where 30 percent of your calorie intake comes from protein. The rest of the calories will come from vegetables that are not starchy, beans, and nuts. You think you must have bread? If you absolutely have to eat bread, eat it at the end of the meal after you have consumed your proteins and vegetables. A study shows that people who ate like this had lower levels of insulin and blood sugar and boosted the hormone GLP-1. This hormone makes you feel full for longer periods of time.
5. Eat Mindfully
If stress is what is causing your weight gain, this can be a very helpful weight loss tool. Midlife stress could come from work, college tuition bills, or caring for aging parents. Most of the time when we eat, we don’t think about what we are doing. This is called mindless eating and could be related to stress. Learning to use some meditation techniques can help alleviate anxiety and make you more aware of how much food you are eating.
This practice involves learning to pay attention to how full or hungry you feel, learning to eat without watching television or reading, planning snacks and meals, and think about how your food actually tastes. Being able to do these things might help you succeed in shedding those extra pounds. One study showed that people who took part in a mindfulness-based program lost around 4.2 pounds more than the control group.
Here are some tips to help you get started: Use the one bite rule when eating fatty foods such as desserts. Chew each bite well. Put down your fork after each bite. Eat slower. Eat where you won’t be distracted.