As we grow older, it often becomes more difficult to manage our weight. However, the reasons may be different than we think. A recent study challenges the conventional wisdom about metabolism across the lifespan.
Rather than slowing down in middle age, human metabolism seems to remain stable from 20 to 60. That’s according to a groundbreaking study at Duke University.
That means you could be wasting time and money on expensive supplements and magic foods that claim to help you burn more calories. Try these suggestions, instead, for taking weight off and keeping it off after 40.
While your metabolism may remain strong for decades, your muscle mass starts decreasing sooner. The average adult loses about 3 to 5% every ten years after they turn 30. While some change is inevitable, slowing the process down can help you stay lean.
1. Use resistance. The key to building strength is contracting your muscles against external resistance. Experiment with machines, free weights, and bodyweight exercises to see what works for you.
2. Train heavy. For faster results, make your workouts more intense. Use a weight that allows you to just barely complete your last repetition.
3. Consume adequate protein. Current guidelines recommend getting 10 to 35% of your calories from protein, and many experts prefer the upper range. Some studies suggest that eating a protein-rich meal or snack within 2 hours after working out is especially helpful.
4. Schedule rest days. Your muscles grow while you’re recovering in between workouts. You can take it easy or do easier activities like hiking.
Aging affects your body weight in other ways too. Increases in insulin resistance lead to excess sugar being stored as fat. Hormonal changes play a role too, especially for women after menopause. On top of that, your lifestyle may become more sedentary.
1. Choose whole foods. Satisfy your hunger with natural foods rich in nutrients and fiber and low in added sugar and salt. Smart choices include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats.
2. Drink water. It’s easy to confuse thirst with hunger. Staying hydrated will enhance your digestion and help you feel full.
3. Limit (eliminate?) alcohol. Many cocktails contain a lot of empty calories and any alcohol can lower your resistance to junk food. If you drink, practice moderation.
4. Sleep well. Getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night is important for your overall wellbeing. Stick to a regular bedtime that allows you to wake up naturally feeling refreshed.
5. Weigh yourself. The average adult gains 1 to 2 pounds each year. Using a scale or tape measure at least once a week gives you a chance to make easy corrections before the doughnuts add up.
6. Move around. How many hours a day do you spend sitting? In addition to regular exercise, take a break to stretch and walk around each half-hour anytime you’re at your desk or watching TV.
7. Seek support. Changing your habits is easier when you have your family and friends on your side. Invite your loved ones to join you in preparing nutritious meals at home and sticking to a workout program.
8. See your doctor. If you need more help, talk with your doctor about your personal situation. For example, a thyroid screening can catch issues that cause weight gain, fatigue, and depression in many adults over 35.
Staying slim after 40 takes a little effort, but the benefits are huge. You lower your risk for many serious health conditions and increase your chances for living a long and active life.
Remember, success is only getting up one more time than we fall! You can do this! Go ahead and give it a go!
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