Home > Nutrition, Preventive Medicine, Weight Loss > Maintain Your Weight Throughout Your 40s and 50s

Maintain Your Weight Throughout Your 40s and 50s

ImageWe’ve all heard the saying ‘you are what you eat’ – this is especially true for women who are approaching their golden years. A 2010 study in the International Journal of Obesity found women gain an average of 12 pounds within eight years after menopause. The drop in estrogen decreases fat burning by 32 percent, the study notes. In the absence of estrogen, the hormone that is lost with menopause, women whose excess pounds once settled on their thighs or hips (in the form of subcutaneous fat) find the weight shifting to the belly as visceral fat wrapping dangerously around the body’s organs.

But there are preventive measures women can take to stay healthy when aging. Once women enter their 50s, they need about 1/4 to 1/3 fewer calories than in their 20s and 30s to maintain their weight, but you need the same amount of protein. So it becomes this challenge of doing more with less, and trying to pack more quality into fewer calories. This is because your metabolism, or the rate at which your body burns calories, slows down as you age.

Meridan Zerner, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, Registered Dietitian at Cooper Clinic, offers a plan to compensate for the changes in metabolism.

  • Don’t skip breakfast. It wakes up your metabolism – incorporate some lean protein such as eggs or egg whites. This is the time to have smart carbohydrates such as oatmeal or wholegrains.
  • Instead of three big meals, have several small meals to keep your energy up and reduce hunger and cravings.
  • Choose lean protein throughout the day.
  • Snack on fresh fruits and vegetables – they keep you feeling full and supply nutrients, antioxidants and fiber.
  • Drink lots of water (and have some tea) to stay hydrated.
  • Add extra fiber to help keep you feeling full.
  • Get some shut-eye. If you don’t get enough rest, it’s hard to lose body fat. Aim for 7-8 hours.

The other good news is that you can increase your metabolism rate by increasing lean muscle mass through strength training and aerobic activity. Your metabolism can also be affected by how frequently you exercise – the more physically active you are, the more you can boost your metabolism.

Meridan recommends the following:

  • Include resistance training two to three times a week to help boost weight loss and build bone density. Without it, women tend to lose bone density after menopause.
  • Commit to cardio! Do aerobic exercises at least thirty minutes four or five times per week, as the American College of Sports Medicine recommends. That can mean walking, jogging, biking, Zumba or any continuous movement. If you want more fat reduction, talk with your doctor about increasing the intensity or duration of your exercise.

For more health tips, sign up for our free e-newsletter, The Cooperized.

  1. Robin
    May 17, 2013 at 9:16 am

    You make it sound so easy. Eating less when you love to eat and have been eating the same way for years is so difficult. Luckily, I’m an exerciser, but that is not stopping weight gain.

    • May 17, 2013 at 9:41 am

      Hi Robin, It’s definitely not easy! It’s great that you like to exercise, as it is so important for your health. As for eating healthy, we like to say it’s about moderation, not deprivation. In other words, try to eat healthy 80% of the time and have that cookie (or other indulgence) the other 20% of the time. The first step is eating more fruits and vegetables – we recommend five to nine servings daily. If you’re not getting five servings in a day, start there, and work your way to nine.

      Also, consider how a registered dietitian can help you. Losing weight is most successful for the long term when treating it as a lifestyle, not a diet. Registered dietitians are the experts on this and can help make a plan that fits your lifestyle. Read more about how they can help from one of our Cooper Clinic registered dietitians, Elana Zimelman: https://cooperaerobics.wordpress.com/2013/01/25/healthy-weight-loss-with-a-dietitian/

  2. Jeanne Johnson
    May 21, 2013 at 1:08 pm

    My frustration is that vegtables do not taste good. I need some simple recipe’s to add taste to vegtables, but not the calories. I find recipes, but they are too complicated and ask for ingrediants that I am not even aware where to find.

    I have gone to nutritionists, but they give simple directions like, put a little lemon juice on the vegatable. (I don’t care for lemon!) I need somewhere to find good recipes so that I can eat more and keep eating them. Any suggestions?

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