Losing weight can be challenging no matter at what age. For women, the time in your lives when weight loss is the hardest are the years leading to menopause. Whether you have struggled with weight issues in the past or not, now that you are in your 50’s, it may seem as if losing weight has become even harder to achieve. Fortunately, if you are understanding and accepting the changes that happen to your body due to age and stay optimistic about your health, you can still achieve a healthy weight.
Firstly, understand the hormonal changes that will occur as you age. Hormones control many functions in the body. With age, your body will produce fewer hormones and tissues will become less responsive. This in turn will affect your metabolism. The metabolism is made up of a complex system of hormones and enzymes that help convert food into usable forms of energy. This conversion helps burn calories daily. Beginning at age 25, the rate of your metabolism will inevitably start to decline by 2-4% each year, meaning the conversion of food to energy becomes slower. This metabolic decline is natural and is our body’s way of helping us produce body fat stores, so that in case you were to ever fall ill, you will have a safety cushion to provide you with energy for recovery. The problem is, this metabolic decline can lead to unwanted weight gain overtime.
Next, accept the changes that will happen to your body. Just like how seasons change, our bodies will change too with each decade. Physical changes will become more noticeable during peri- or postmenopausal stages. Some of the changes you may spot are incremental increases in body weight, reduction in muscle tone, joint and posture changes, as well as alterations in your mood, blood sugar levels and rate of digestion.
Despite all these changes that will take place gradually over time, your health is not doomed with age. You can still engage in healthful eating habits and physical activities that will keep your body hardy and strong, which in turn can help maintain your body weight and slow down the effects of aging.
To do so, eat a healthy diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and an optimal amount of essential fats. Consume 3 ½ cups of fruits and vegetables per day to take in important antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Fruits and vegetables can help maintain energy levels and regularity. The more fruits and vegetables you eat, the better. For whole grains, choose brown rice, lentils, quinoa or whole grain bread. To be certain that all foods are digested properly, chew foods slowly and thoroughly. Also, choose proteins that are more easily digestible, such as chicken breast, salmon, eggs or yogurt. If you tend to have a tough time chewing meats, you can ensure that you are getting your daily protein intake by supplementing your diet with a serving of Almased each day. Almased’s protein-rich formula can help provide you with important nutrients to protect your muscle mass while helping with your weight loss efforts. For essential fats, consume 5-7 teaspoons of oil per day. Those oils include olive, flaxseed or walnut oil. You can add oil to Almased shakes, veggie broth or consume it as a part of your salad dressing or while preparing your meals. Healthy fats can also be found in avocados, fish, nuts and tofu.
In addition, remember to get regular physical activity daily. It is important to participate in at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day. Examples of physical activity include longer brisk walks, gardening at your home or fitness classes at your local gym. Being more active can help you feel better, decrease stress, help with weight control and improve strength and flexibility. Furthermore, it can help increase balance and improve sleep. Remember, sleep is a very important aspect of your health and can make all the difference to your metabolism. Make sure to get 7-9 hours of sleep each night.
Lastly, manage your daily stress, have a good attitude about your body and do not give up. Dieting after 50 can feel frustrating, especially after trying numerous diet and weight loss programs that were of little to no avail. Keep a positive mindset and celebrate small successes along the way, even for changes as little as losing ½ lb per week. If you experience no weight loss in spite of your efforts, be happy that you were at least able to maintain weight and still managed to increase your energy levels or now have more control over your diet, which can help support your blood sugar levels. By and large, know that the more healthy habits you develop, the better you will look and feel. Therefore, stay focused on engaging in an overall healthy lifestyle. Everything you do now, in time, will matter to your overall health down the line.
Written By: Jamie Luu, RDN, LD/N
Edited by: Almased Nutrition Staff