You’ve eaten your way from Thanksgiving to New Year’s again this year and you have another couple pounds on the scale to show for it. But as you age, you’re finding it more and more difficult to shed those extra holiday pounds. While the basic rules of weight loss are the same, there are a few important things you should know about as you get older.
Your muscle mass naturally decreases with age (at 50 you have 20 percent less muscle than you had at 20 and so on and so on). Correspondingly, less muscle means a slower metabolism and fewer calories burned. You can counteract this natural progression by incorporating weights into your exercise regimen (with your doctor’s supervision of course) and eating more lean protein, which not only helps build muscle but also fills you up more nutritiously than fats and carbs.
When you are well-hydrated, you burn calories faster. However, you’re probably reaching for the water bottle less often these days because, as you age, you actually start to lose your sense of thirst. It’s also easy to mistake thirst for hunger and grab a snack rather than a glass. Instead of relying on your body to tell you to wet your whistle, keep a pitcher of water in the fridge and fill up your glass at regular intervals throughout the day. You can also get water through foods like cucumbers and tomatoes. (If your urine is pale yellow, you’ll know you’re drinking enough.)
Because your metabolism naturally slows down as you age, you’ll probably need to eat less. But conversely, cutting back too much and letting more than three hours elapse between meals could kick your metabolism into starvation mode and cause you to burn even fewer calories. The key is to eat a lot of small meals or snacks throughout the day. (Consult your physician about the total number of calories that’s right for you.)
Just as so many things have changed since you were 25, the speed at which you drop pounds is no exception. That’s because you’re generally not walking/running as far, lifting as much weight, maybe even doing as many repetitions as you used to. In other words, you’re not able to push yourself as hard, and accordingly, you’re not burning as many calories. But don’t get frustrated. With diligence and a good attitude, the weight will come off, slowly but surely. Then your challenge becomes not putting it back on next year!
Share how you plan to lose those holiday pounds this year.