There is no doubt that as we age, the battle of the bulge becomes tougher. Our metabolism slows down, stress builds up causing hormone imbalances, and we tend to be more sedentary in general.
“As you age, your metabolism slows down, and a lot of your metabolism functions and absorption —everything just gets a little less efficient,” Katherine L. Tucker, professor of nutritional epidemiology and director of the Center for Population Health at the University of Massachusetts Lowell tells Men's Health. But there are simple steps you can take to outsmart age-related weight gain.
- Boost muscle mass. By the age of 50, we lose 10% of our muscle mass, according to the American College of Sports Medicine. “Muscle is more metabolically active,” says Dr. William Yancy Jr., a medical weight management specialist at Duke Lifestyle and Weight Management Center in Durham, North Carolina. “So having a higher ratio of muscle to fat will mean you burn more energy — just while sitting.” Yancy says that regular strength training — lifting weights or using resistance bands three times weekly ― combined with aerobic activity is the best combo to build muscle and burn calories.
- Speed up your metabolism. According to AARP, the metabolic rate in which we burn calories slows down by 2% every decade. One way to keep your metabolism revved up is to try a new sport. When you challenge your body in a new way, you build more muscle mass which in turn burns more calories. If you have been following the same fitness regimen for decades, it is time to shake things up. Pickleball courts are popping up all over the country and according to Pickleball Portal, a 150-pound adult can burn a whopping 250 calories playing this exciting sport for a mere 30 minutes. Experts also suggest that eating protein at every meal increases both muscle mass and boosts metabolism, according to The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
- Control hormonal swings. As we age, our levels of estrogen and testosterone decline, which makes us store fat. Yancy says that women tend to store fat around the middle instead of in their hips after the age of 50. Men lose testosterone which slows down their metabolism. To combat the hurdles hormones place in front of our weight loss path, cut down on refined sugars and starches, says Yancy, and stick to protein and whole foods. This includes shunning sodas, fruit juices and even sports drinks that may be loaded with sugar. Excess sugar disrupts insulin levels in the body, which can affect the levels of other hormones, such as estrogen and testosterone.
- Take your time eating. Mindful eating is an effective weight-loss strategy that encourages you to slow down and pay attention to your food. Notice each sip or bite you consume, advise the experts at the Mayo Clinic. You can even put your fork down between bites. Use all your senses to savor the food rather than mindlessly gobbling down your meal.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables. While this may be something you already know, now is the time to really put it into practice. The water and fiber in fruits and vegetables adds volume to your dishes so you can eat the same amount of food and still lose weight. Make vegetables the prime focus of your meal — at least half the plate. The best fruit choices because of their high antioxidant and fiber properties are berries, apples, kiwis, and melons.
- Get enough sleep. According to AARP, research shows a consistent relationship between sleep and weight gain. Studies have found that people who are sleep-deprived not only eat more the next day, they also reach for higher calorie foods. Lack of sleep affects the balance of the body’s hunger hormones ― ghrelin, which increases the appetite, and leptin that inhibits hunger. Going to bed at the same time every night and adopting good sleep habits can help reduce the hormonal swings that can lead to weight gain. Here are some more tips from the Sleep Health Foundation.
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