No matter what age we are, sustainable weight loss is never easy and breezy.
But when you hit your 40s, you suddenly realise that what you thought wasn’t easy before, now it is actually getting harder.
And in your 50s and beyond, no matter what science says [research tells us we only imagine it to be more difficult] I can attest to the fact that the extra weight loss challenges are not just in our heads.
Unless we are active, after our late 30s we can lose about 2-5% muscle mass per decade. Although this varies between individuals, it means a lower metabolism and slower weight loss. Or we might even gain a bit of weight each year without eating more than usual.
But even if we remain active all our lives, science explains that some natural age-related muscle loss can still occur, no matter what.
Scientists believe those losses can be due to
- Hormonal changes
- A reduction in the signalling pathway between our brain and muscles
- A decrease in the ability to use protein for energy
- And not eating a balanced diet with sufficient calories and protein to sustain muscle mass.
So what are some of the things we can do to prevent extra weight frustrations later on in life?
To begin with I’m going to state the obvious.
Namely: rely less on processed convenience foods. Instead, go for whole food plant-based choices that are natural and wholesome. Check on the amount of alcohol you consume because it causes your body to favour fat layering. In this case, it’s not the calories in alcohol that matter. It’s the chemical and hormonal stress they cause that can result in fat accumulation.
1) In your 40s
Now is the time to get on track and really knuckle down.
You do NOT wish to take any extra weight with you into your menopausal years. Because once you hit your 50s losing weight can become more difficult.
Improve your lifestyle choices with better portion control, some muscle-building exercises, lose excess weight and stay on top of it before it gets away from you.
As you approach menopause, your estrogen levels start to slowly decline. That hormone is directly involved in metabolism and maintaining a healthy weight.
It also assists to regulate blood sugar and fat metabolism.
When your estrogen levels drop, your metabolic rate starts to decline and your body begins to store fat more readily. In other words, unless you make changes, you can gain weight.
Not much to begin with…just a couple of pounds here and there.
Therefore watch those carbs seeing that after 40, usually, your system doesn’t deal as well with high starchy carbs and the resulting blood sugar spikes.
Plus reduce your fat intake to a healthier level.
Lower estrogen levels also mean its bone-building benefit can decline.
Start to focus on including more calcium-rich foods because your stomach doesn’t make quite as much of the acids necessary for its absorption.
To help you with the uptake of this important mineral, ensure sufficient Vit D3 intake.
Our system can make better use of it than D2 which is added to many of our vegan foods.
Because Vit D is difficult to get from a vegan diet, Vegan Vit D3 can be purchased as a supplement and it may prevent the natural Vit D decline we all experience after 40.
And as mentioned above, declining estrogen levels mean a possible increase in cholesterol. Aim for a good mix of fibre rich foods that contain soluble AND insoluble fibres because they help decrease cholesterol and reduce the risk for colon cancer.
2) In your 50s
It’s time to crank up your efforts. Look at your diet [meaning: what you eat and drink]
Chose a forever eating plan that you love, one that nourishes and doesn’t damage you.
For weight loss, create a gentle but sustainable calorie deficit. It should not cause you any cravings and then invite binges using unhelpful foods.
Re-assess your exercise choices. Yes, aerobics help to burn more calories, but we do not exactly know how many more. Neither does your app.
The number of calories burnt you see on the display are general averages. Not exact calculations for your unique body. The one thing you can rely on regarding your weight loss efforts are your clothes. Are they getting looser? Then you’re on a winner.
Work on maintaining and perhaps even improving muscle tone, because you want to keep your metabolism from slowing off.
Check your sleep quality and quantity and your stress levels.
If they get out of whack, they can cause additional hormonal hurdles for weight loss.
Don’t forget to support your efforts with adequate anti-oxidant-rich vegetables and fruit plus protein intake.
Without those foods, your muscle mass will be difficult to maintain or increase.
But upping your protein intake without resistance exercises won’t assist to improve muscle tone or mass.
As our bodies change with time, so should your diet.
Sodium intake should reduce further after we turn 50. Our risk for fluid retention and higher blood pressure increases after the age of 50, so try and limit salt intake.
Increase foods that contain age-fighting antioxidants.
For instance blueberries [help to lower blood sugar, and reduce chances of having dementia plus offer many other health benefits]
Or watercress: it acts as an internal skin antiseptic and increases the circulation and delivery of minerals to all cells of the body, resulting in enhanced oxygenation of the skin.
They contain vitamins A and C, which help to neutralise harmful free radicals, helping to keep fine lines and wrinkles away.
Cooked tomatoes and broccoli for lutein. [The raw versions don’t release as much of this antioxidant]
Lutein is linked to preserving our memory!
Avocados: they are high in anti-inflammatory fatty acids that promote smooth supple skin.
And pomegranate seeds. According to research the active compound of ‘urolithin A’ has several age-fighting benefits.
Even without those benefits, I love eating those pretty jewel-like seeds, don’t you?
And beyond your 50s?
Combine all the above and keep at it.
Work on stress relief, better sleep, and eat colourful raw and cooked plant foods no matter what age you are.
Their benefits will build up over the years and help you live a rich, joyful and pain-free life, all the way into ripe old age ….