Discover how to lose weight when you’re over 40 and never gain it back.
Your body can’t help but gain fat as you age, but there are three things you can do to keep it from getting fat
Innocent of you, who thought you would get rid… But no. In the end, it has happened to you like (almost) everyone: it has been reaching 40 and realizing that experience is not the only thing you accumulate.
It is clear that you add a few extra kilos and, worst of all, you have no idea where they came from. Much less how sacártelos off. And it’s not that you look bad — neither you nor anyone else — but by now you’ve heard a thousand times that accumulating fat increases the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and that it can also have metabolic consequences.
Nor is it the best way to keep your body agile and fit, which is also healthy… The good news is that there are three things you can do to lose weight and, incidentally, avoid regaining lost kilos.
The weight gain that becomes noticeable in your 40s is the result of a process that begins around the age of 30. And it doesn’t stop anymore. From then on, muscle mass begins to be lost, at a rate of 8% every 10 years, and that “gives rise to the famous change in metabolism, where the loss of tissue also reduces the body’s water,” says the dietician-nutritionist Néstor Benítez, head of the Clinical Nutrition Specialization Group of the Spanish Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics The less muscle mass, the less energy the body needs to function but, as the body does not warn that it has opposed this process, one follows eating the same as before.
That is the energy that you used to ingest and was adequate now causes a caloric surplus without you realizing it. In the end, all that is left will end up converted into fat, the densest energy reserve that the body has. “In sedentary people, it will usually tend to accumulate in the belly in men, and in the hips and thighs in women,” adds the expert. Hence, making a caloric adjustment is the first step to losing weight in adulthood.
If you’re looking for a number, 300 calories may be what you need. According to a study from Duke University, eliminating this energy from the usual daily intake significantly reduces the risk of cardiovascular problems and high blood pressure, as well as developing insulin resistance and obesity.
Even slim people can benefit from this trim, which, considering the natural tendency to lose muscle mass with age, is worth considering from the age of 40. But care must be taken when choosing which foods go into the diet. shopping basket and which ones stay on the supermarket shelves.
María Sanchidrián, dietitian-nutritionist and promoter of the VIDA camps for weight loss, strongly advises against looking only at the energy value of a product, since there is a whole melting pot of foods that, “although they appear to contain a lot of energy, are beneficial for all the nutrients they provide” (olive oil and nuts are two examples). Faced with this, she proposes to start by first eliminating the things that should not be there because they have high energy content and provide little or no nutrients.
And the first to fall is alcohol. “A gram of alcohol has 7.5 calories, that is, almost as much energy as a gram of fat, which gives 9 calories, compared to the 4 that we find for each gram of carbohydrate and protein, respectively,” lists the expert. “Its journey practically ends in the liver and there it turns into fat,” she sums up.
Taking into account that we live in a society in which alcohol is closely linked to celebrations, reducing its consumption to zero can be almost impossible ( it is not necessary to be so strict when what one wants is to lose weight, another thing is that it is about a toxic substance…).
But Sanchidrián points out that drinks with a lower alcohol content will always be less caloric. In other words, it is better to stay with beer than with wine, for example. The most consistent recommendation at the moment is “the less alcohol, the better,” because it is very difficult to convince a regular consumer to stop drinking altogether, says Benítez.
In search of reasons that justify that alcohol remains in the nutritional pyramid
The second element to reduce is sugar, which nutritionally does not contribute anything to the body beyond energy. “Furthermore, it will cause insulin to shoot up for its metabolism and, probably, it will end up being transformed into fat”, points out the dietitian-nutritionist, who also recalls that “in the average diet of a Spaniard, quite a lot of simple sugars are already consumed, for which reason it is considered You need to reduce your consumption.
The ultra-processed must also be crossed off the shopping list. “They are foods that, lacking fiber, do not fill you up, but they are hypercaloric and very tasty… It is very difficult to control their intake and they do not have nutrients,” summarizes Sanchidrián.
Once we have removed these three basic things, one can stop subtracting and start adding ingredients… for a hypocaloric diet, which is about losing weight. For example, “two pieces of fruit a day —ideally watery, such as watermelon or melon, because the concentration of sugar in one piece will be half that of, say, a banana— and three pieces of vegetables —lettuce salads, arugula or spinach are highly recommended for their satiating effect—”, lists Sanchidrián.
Once you’ve reached a healthier weight, you don’t have to stray too far from this line so you don’t gain it back. In general, Benítez maintains that the diet should be based on products of plant origin such as vegetables, fruit, nuts, whole grains, and legumes (the hypocaloric diet should include three to four servings of legumes during the week -due to its composition, Sanchidrián recommends the nutritional content of chickpeas, although remember that it is important to vary—). In addition, it is convenient to incorporate fish (both white and blue) and try to reduce the consumption of meat, especially red.
If to maintain a healthy weight you have to stop the loss of muscle mass, it is obvious that doing exercise that generates muscles (apart from burning fat) will help. It is the second objective of the plan, and the strategy is to divide the training between cardio and strength. Nothing they haven’t already told you.
But if you haven’t stepped foot in a gym for years, physiotherapist and personal trainer Adrián Prieto is clear: “You have to go out for a walk every day and manage to reach 10,000 steps, and if you fall short, increase the duration to an hour a day at a rate between 115 and 140 beats per minute.
There are works ( this is one ) that indicate that this type of exercise, known as LISS (exercises of low intensity and long duration, for its acronym in English), ” increase the metabolism of fats at that rate after 60 minutes to be used as a source of energy,” says the coach. Of course, not everyone has an hour a day for this…
The alternative is interval training, the famous HIIT, which is done in sessions of no more than 20 minutes in which high-intensity exercises are interspersed with breaks. “This type of training burns the same as an hour’s walk,” explains London-based trainer Maria Laitinen, who has just launched Fit in Fifteen, an initiative to encourage beginners to try this system at home. To see results, it is recommended to start with two or three sessions per week, at an intensity where talking is impossible.
As for strength training, Prieto advises starting with those that use different joints and involve the use of many different muscles to gain muscle mass, for 45 minutes, 2 to 3 times a week. The trainer, who is used to working with middle-aged people, points out that squats are especially useful, with three series of between 12 and 15 repetitions —or an amount such that, if you did two more, you would not be able to move—, and leaving a rest one minute between them.
He also recommends planks: “The idea is to do a minute and rest for more than 40 seconds,” says Prieto, “and repeat the exercise six or seven times.” In addition, he recommends that they be in front of the mirror “to control that we do not sink and keep our back straight.”
Climbing steps two at a time is also okay, taking care that “the knee stays at 90 degrees, hence the two steps,” explains Prieto. The idea is to climb with one side and then with the other until you reach almost so many steps that, if you climbed two more, you wouldn’t be able to move (yes, finishing for dragging is a constant…).
Then he proposes resting between two and three and a half minutes, and doing three to four series, avoiding the back going too far forward at all times to reduce the probability of injury. In fourth place, the specialist highlights the funds, with which the shoulder, pectoral, and triceps are exercised. “If you have just started, it is convenient that you do them from an elevated surface, one meter high, to avoid sinking when doing it, that is, you can go up and down without a problem.” Again,
However, do not expect to see immediate results: in various studies focused on studying the reduction of abdominal fat, it has been determined that it does not disappear until at least week 12 of physical training. But the effects are long-lasting, and the habit of exercising is crucial to avoid gaining weight in the long run. Be patient. And rest wisely.
The third objective that must be taken into account to lose the kilos that age has been putting on us is rest since at 40 the body begins to give it worse to recover strength. The reason is that as we get older, we lose the ability to sleep soundly, which leads to more wakefulness at night.
This also affects our weight, as it has been shown that short sleep duration is also associated with a reduction in leptin (a hormone that inhibits the desire to eat) and an increase in ghrelin (another hormone that arouses the feeling of appetite ). That means that the next day we spend the day hungrier, and we tend to eat more than necessary.
To make matters worse, a serious lack of sleep also reduces the ability to create muscle mass. Therefore, a good rest is essential to losing weight. Since age is not on our side when it comes to sleeping better, we can at least start by banishing certain bad habits so that they do not worsen rest even more.
One of them is to leave the phone screens well away before going to sleep since they seem to be the enemy of a good rest because they may prevent the secretion of serotonin during the night, a hormone that influences circadian rhythms and regulates the dream. It can be difficult in an era where it seems that the custom of being always available is imposed, but isn’t it worth gaining health by ironing your ear? Well, that.
This post was last modified on September 13, 2022 2:40 am
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