Fight fat and tone your body at 50+ with this two-step, doctor-approved plan. You used to be able to eat your favorite foods without padding your waistline, but now every spare calorie seems to stick around – around your middle, that is.
If this is a familiar scenario, you’re in line with millions of other women and men over 50 facing the same struggle, and there’s a good reason for it.
Starting in your 30s and intensify-ing in your 50s, hormonal shifts cause your resting metabolism – the number of calories your body burns just to stay alive – to drop. The main reason your calorie-burning furnace douses the flames: muscle loss.
Once you exit your 20s, you begin to lose about 5 pounds of lean tissue each decade. Even worse, the muscle that remains becomes fatty, weak, and less efficient at using energy. As a result, you burn as many as 85 fewer calories per day every decade, enough to pack on up to 15 pounds of body fat every 10 years.
While midlife weight creep is certainly frustrating, it’s not unbeatable. Here’s how to combine the right type of movement with smart diet choices to burn more calories all day long.
Start Strength Training
If your doctor were to write you a fat-burning prescription, the dosage might come in reps and sets instead of tablets or milligrams. Resistance exercises like squats, dips, and curls are the only way to combat muscle loss and increase the quantity and quality of calorie-torching lean tissue. At 50-plus, if you’re not actively strengthening your muscle, you’re losing it every single day.
You don’t have to do much to see results. Ten weeks of strength training can boost your resting metabolic rate by 7%.
For the best results, aim to do a full-body routine two or three times a week.
Choose The Best Tool
Light weights, resistance bands, and body weight all build muscle and fire up calorie burn. The key is working your muscles to what’s called fatigue—the “I-just-can’t-do-another-lift” feeling. You’ve reached that point when you can’t perform another rep with good form.
Take at least 1 rest day after each strength-training workout.
Moderate aerobic exercise like steady, brisk walking sparks the growth of new mitochondria in your skeletal muscle. These tiny organelles are responsible for burning fat, and the more mitos you have, the hotter your metabolic fire.
Pump Up The Protein
Your body converts amino acids from the protein in your diet to new muscle tissue. As you inch past 50 years old, your liver decreases its production of a hormone called insulin-like growth factor 1, a key player in this process.
Aim to get 20-25 grams at each meal and always include it at snacks.
Ditch Refined Flour
Look through your pantry and toss all foods made with refined white flour. Replace them with whole grain options since they're higher in fiber. Your body uses more energy to digest the tougher, fibrous bits, and a high fiber diet is KEY to weight loss.
Fuel with Fat
Older adults who eat a regular dose of omega-3-fatty acids increase their muscle protein synthesis more than those who often skimp on the inflammation-fighting nutrient. Aim for a 4 oz serving of fatty fish like herring, mackerel, salmon, or tuna three times per week. Vegetarian sources include flaxseed, walnuts and blue-green algae.
Ignite your Gut
Bad bacteria make you sick, but the good ones keep your digestive system working properly, and your metabolism humming swiftly. Disturbances to your gut microbiome can affect the rate and efficiency at which your body absorbs food, potentially reducing your body’s ability to burn calories.
Restore and maintain proper bacterial balance by eating at least one serving a day of fermented foods or beverages. Think kefir, kombucha, miso, sauerkraut, tempeh, and yogurt with live cultures.
In a German study, people who drank 2 cups of room-temperature water cranked up their resting metabolic rates about 30% over the next hour, because their bodies expended energy heating the water to body temperature. That means drinking just over 6 cups of water could help you burn an extra 50 calories per day.
Research shows certain spices, including cayenne and turmeric, can fire up your fat-burning furnace by slightly increasing body temperature. Additionally, cumin can help your body absorb and digest fats, and ginger may help increase the number of calories your body uses while digesting food. So add a little seasoning to your next meal. You’ll boost the flavor and your metabolism.
Do you have any metabolism-boosting tips? We would love to hear them!
Kelly Harrington, MS, RDN
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for Healthy Goods