As you age, it becomes easier to gain weight and harder to lose it. Age really does matter with regards to weight management, especially if you’re over the age of 40.
Many factors can play a role such as changes in physical activity level, diet, hormonal changes and ultimately how your body stores fat.
Have no fear this new year, here are 10 tips to lose weight and feel great for people over 40.
- 1. Follow a Paleo diet
- The Paleo diet is the ancestral way to lose weight naturally without counting calories. This key is back to the basics focusing on healthy, grass –fed meats, wild-caught fish, fresh vegetables, nuts, seeds and seasonal fruits. This diet focuses on whole foods and eliminates processed foods and additives. The Paleo diet emulates how the hunter-gatherers ate. The reason it works is because it gets rid of empty calorie foods (foods that provide only calories and no nutrients) and replaces these foods with more nutrient dense options. Nutrient dense foods are high in nutrients but lower in calories, which is the shift that aids in weight loss. Additionally, the foods found on a Paleo diet are rich in vital nutrients needed for weight loss and energy balance. This study confirmed weight loss in women on Paleo versus the well publicized Nordic Diet.
- 2. Try Intermittent Fasting
- Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern in which you cycle between periods of feasting and fasting. It doesn’t specify which foods to eat but rather when to eat them. Intermittent fasting improves insulin sensitivity (which declines with age) and as a result insulin drops and stored fat can be utilized. Additionally, intermittent fasting naturally reduces caloric intake for individuals. Research has also found that fasting can lower glucose and increase the fat-burning hormone, norepinephrine leading to increased metabolism short-term1.
- 3. Cook your meals at home
- Cooking your meals by hand at home is an act of self-care and a tool to aid in weight loss. This is because when you cook at home you control what goes into each meal. Home cooking means your meals can be free from added sugars, salt and unhealthy fats. Cooking at home means you can select what you want include (organic, fresh vegetables and healthy, grass-fed meats) and eliminate what you don’t want (additives, gluten, and refined sugars). You can also use heart-healthy cooking oils when you’re making your meals at home. One of the biggest factors holding people back from cooking at home is the belief that they can’t make a good meal because they’ve forgotten how to cook. If you’re in need of some home cooking inspiration, try our Mexican Paleo cookbook loaded with healthy recipes to get your cooking started!
- 4. Become a mindful eater
- When life gets busy it can be tempting to multitask during a meal. This eating behavior can lead to overeating. By becoming a more mindful eating, your brain learns to better recognize it’s own hunger and satiety cues to let you know when to start and stop eating. Mindful eating is a more thoughtful way of eating that helps individuals make healthier food choices and better understand hunger cues. As a result, it is a great tool for weight loss. Mindful eating includes focusing on the sight, smell, texture and taste of foods. During mindful eating, there are no distractions like TV. One must chew slowly when eating mindfully. There is a profound mind-gut connection and so when we employ mindful eating habits it helps the brain to register satiety (the feeling of fullness) and activates the Parasympathetic Nervous System (your “rest and digest” mode). Eat with others when possible.
- 5. Ditch the added sugar
- Sugar provides empty calories to the body. Empty calories are calories without nutrients. If you drink sweetened beverages, try replacing them with water or tea. In excess, sugar gets stored as fat on the body, contributing to weight gain. Eating too much sugar is associated with weight gain along with a host of chronic diseases like obesity, Type 2 Diabetes, and Heart Disease. Added sugar is vastly different than natural sugar (like that found in fruits and vegetables). Added or refined sugars are added to processed foods, juices and candies. It acts like a foreign ingredient and the body struggles to recognize and break down this type of sugar. If your New Year’s goal is to lose weight, then it’s time to kick your sugar habit.
- 6. Reduce alcoholic intake
- Alcohol is another source of empty calories that plays a huge role in weight. Alcohol provides a large number of calories but no nutrients. Anyone looking to shred stubborn pounds should skip that evening glass of wine. Alcohol is also unique in that the body will always give it first priority with regards to digestion. This means that, in excess, the body will break down alcohol first and since it contains calories it will use it as energy first. The result is that the protein, fat and carbohydrates you ate at dinner all get stored as fat. This further contributes to weight gain. Additionally, because alcohol is considered a toxin it causes high levels of inflammation and impacts key organs like the liver, both of which can have effects on weight. Lastly, alcohol can lead to increased food intake by triggering hunger signals in the brain. Skip the alcohol!
- 7. Move your body more
- Physical inactivity is a major factor in the development of weight gain. In fact, sitting is now labeled as the new smoking due to its detrimental effects on weight and health. Lack of exercise can lead to weight gain and obesity-related diseases like diabetes or hypertension. Low levels of physical activity are linked to increased visceral fat (fat around the organs) like abdominal fat. Regular aerobic exercise, also known as cardio, can help you to lose visceral fat. Aerobic activity (walking, hiking, biking) pair with a healthy Paleo diet is the best way to lose stubborn visceral fat and keep it off. Yoga and gardening are another of my favorites. Additionally, regular exercise can also undo heart damage (often linked to increased weight) so get moving!
- 8. Stop stressing
- It’s widely known that chronic stress makes you more likely to binge on unhealthy food like fast foods and processed ones. When stress causes you to eat more it exacerbates weight gain by increasing caloric intake. The stress hormone cortisol (released during times of stress) also triggers the storage of abdominal fat. Additionally, on top of all of this, new research has found that stress makes it harder for your body to break down stored fat2. This is because stress stimulates the production of a protein called betatrophin, which inhibits an enzyme that is needed for the breakdown of fat2. In the study, levels of betatrophin increased in mice that experienced both environmental and metabolic stressors2. Stress management is key for weight loss so find a relaxation technique that works for you.
- 9. Get better sleep
- Individuals who don’t get enough good quality sleep are more likely to gain weight. Not getting enough shuteye can have adverse effects not only on your health but your waistline. Sleep deficiency is linked to weight gain. Lack of sleep can dysregulate the hunger hormones in our bodies. This causes the brain to not receive the proper hunger and satiety signals. Therefore, appetite, weight control and energy metabolism all become impacted. Sleep deprivation also slows down your metabolism, leading to weight gain. Check out our tips for better sleep.
- 10. Heal your gut
- Your gut is home to trillions of bacteria. Leaky Gut Syndrome can lead to an imbalance of the good and bad bacteria, which can increase one’s risk for weight gain. Healing leaky gut syndrome and restoring the balance of good microbes in the gut is essential to protecting the gut barrier, lowering inflammation and preventing weight gain. One study found that when mice were given prebiotic fibers to increase Bifidobacteria then weight gain and insulin resistance both decreased3. Additionally, a review article published in Nature Reviews Endocrinology in 2017 revealed that gut microbial populations may have the potential to regulate appetite control in their hosts by affecting how much of each appetitive hormone (leptin, ghrelin, etc.) are produced4. Essentially, the microbes can influence how hungry or full you feel! In fact, research has shown that simply restoring gut bacteria by taking probiotics with multiple strains can aid in weight loss5.
- Zauner et al., 2000: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10837292
- Zhang et al., 2016: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1388198115001997
- Cani et al., 2007: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17823788
- Fetissov et al., 2017: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27616451/
- Zhang et al., 2015: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27149163