Why am I gaining weight when I haven’t changed my eating or exercise? It’s a question women over age 50 frequently ask their doctors. As we grow older, we lose lean muscle mass, which slows our metabolism. We also tend to decrease our physical activities and burn fewer calories, which eventually leads to weight gain. It is a common problem and it is gradual. Normally women tend to notice the creeping weight gain at age 40 to 50.
Though it is not obvious, men’s metabolism slows as they age too and they lose muscle as well. But they don’t have the same hormonal changes that aging women undergo. During menopause, the lack of estrogen leads to a shift of fat to the midsection, in the belly area. This abdominal fat increases the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes because the fat is surrounding these vital organs.
So for you to avoid these several chronic diseases, you need to lose extra abdominal fat by increasing your metabolic rate.
We listed down several effective and safe ways that you can do to increase your metabolism, lose extra weight, avoid chronic complications and live longer.
1. Count Your Caloric Intake
If simply cutting back calories isn’t budging the scale, it’s helpful to know how many calories you need each day to maintain your weight. Then, to lose pounds, you can subtract from that maintenance number. Since a woman’s metabolic rate falls roughly 2% to 3% each decade, this number goes down with age. A moderately active woman in her 20s requires a daily average of 2,000 to 2,200 calories to maintain her weight. In her 30s and 40s, it drops a little to just about 2,000. After 50, it falls to 1,800 calories.
For example, a 50-year-old woman who is 5’4″, 158 pounds, and moderately active will maintain her weight on 1,800 calories a day. To lose 1 to 2 pounds a week, she will need to consume 500 fewer calories each day and will need to drop her caloric intake to 1,300 calories.
As much as you want faster weight loss don’t be tempted to subtract too many calories. As counterintuitive as it may seem, eating too little can slow your metabolism by as much as 20%. “If your body thinks you’re trying to starve it, it fights back by burning fewer calories,” says Domenica Rubino, M.D., an endocrinologist and a spokesperson for the Obesity Society.
We suggest that you make use of free calorie counting apps available online, or better yet download free calorie counting apps on your phone so you can input your calorie intake every time you eat, wherever you are.
2. Eat A Healthy Amount Of Protein
Consume more good protein, you need it to build muscles the “metabolic powerhouses” in your body. A 2012 review from the Netherlands found that eating a healthy amount of protein helps you drop pounds and keep them off. The study authors suggest 1.2 grams of protein for each kilogram you weigh. So our 158-pound (72-kilogram) woman might eat 86 grams of protein a day. That’s one egg at breakfast (6 grams), a tuna salad sandwich at lunch (16 grams), 4 ounces of fat-free cottage cheese for a snack (12 grams), and a 6-ounce chicken breast at dinner (52 grams).
According to a new study of overweight women, if a 50-year-old woman starts by loading up healthy protein at breakfast, she will feel more satisfied throughout the day and will also snack less at night. But please keep in mind that “Protein doesn’t have any superpowers,” says Felicia D. Stoler, D.C.N., a doctor of clinical nutrition and an exercise physiologist. “Excess calories from protein will just get stored as fat,” she added.
We suggest eating healthy proteins in moderation. There are several varieties of healthy proteins such as unprocessed meats, legumes, and fish.
3. Add Yogurt To Your Diet
Yogurt has been associated with the maintenance of a healthy weight. Now researchers believe this may be because of yogurt’s probiotic bacteria. “Scientists have found that obese people have more of a certain type of bacteria that is more efficient at extracting energy from food,” says Gerard Mullin, M.D., a gastroenterologist at Johns Hopkins Hospital. “It’s possible that the ‘good’ bacteria in yogurt help counter these ‘bad,’ weight-gain-causing bacteria.”
We suggest consuming yogurt daily for better energy absorption and digestion. Greek yogurt has gained popularity among people who want to lose weight because of its efficacy and yummy taste.
4. Try Cardio Exercises
Aerobic exercise can help you burn calories while working out and because your metabolic rate stays elevated, you will continue to burn extra calories even while resting. Researchers found that about five sessions of moderate cardio per week, each lasting between 20 and 45 minutes increases daily metabolism by an average of 109 calories in women. So even on the days, the women weren’t exercising, they enjoyed an afterburn of calories.
In recent research studies from the University of Kansas, overweight women doing moderate cardio five days a week dropped 5% of their body weight in 10 months without changing a thing about their diets.
Try to get your workout to 30 minutes a day and see the results. In a Danish study, previously sedentary volunteers instructed to exercise for 30 minutes lost just as much weight as those who worked out for an hour. The researchers speculate that 30 minutes likely felt so doable and rewarding to those participants that they went on to do more physical activity in other ways not connected to the study.
5. Try High-Intensity Interval Training
High-intensity interval training or HIIT has become popular for a very good reason: Sprinkling just five 30-second extra-hard intervals into your normal cardio routine can torch as many as 200 additional calories in your workout. Or you can alternate intensities, going faster for one minute and then slower for the next minute. “There’s an unexpected perk to this approach,” says Wayne L. Westcott, Ph.D., a professor of exercise science at Quincy College in Quincy. “The recovery minute feels so good to people, that time becomes their friend for that minute. It becomes more like a game and less like a workout,” he added. Another research study from Liverpool John Moores University reports that recreational exercisers who ran using HIIT found it significantly more fun than just slogging along.
This would be very helpful for women over 50 since it requires less time but delivers the metabolism-boosting effects. It is enjoyable as well so you might likely continue doing this as part of your lifestyle.
6. Increase Your Muscle Mass
At around age 30, we start to lose about 5% of our muscle mass per decade. But maintaining and building muscle increases our metabolism. Even a simple weight-training program of three 25-minute sessions a week can keep your muscles be toned and burn 100 calories per session.
You don’t need to go to the gym to develop your muscles. Exercises that rely on body weight, such as push-ups, tricep dips, wall sits, squats, and lunges, can be just as effective as those that use weights or machines.
7. Move More
If you make phone calls for one hour at your desk, you’ll burn 15 calories, but if you do it while standing up and pacing around the room, you’ll burn 100 calories. It’s called NEAT or Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. The ongoing research at the Mayo Clinic has found that we can burn up to an additional 800 calories a day simply by getting off our keisters and moving around more. Not only does NEAT help drop the extra weight, but it also may have a greater impact on longevity than standard exercise. A large study from the American Cancer Society found that women who sat for more than 6 hours a day were 37% more likely to die during the course of the 14 years of research than those who were sedentary fewer than 3 hours a day.
Some of the ways to add more activity into your day are well known like taking the stairs instead of elevators and walking to colleagues’ desks rather than e-mailing them. But you can also seed mini-workouts into your daily life like doing squats or lunges while waiting for the copier to warm up.
8. Manage Your Stress Level
Stress can cause an increase in cortisol levels, which slows down the metabolism. In a just-completed study, researchers found that a woman caring for a loved one with dementia had a bigger waistline than her less stressed counterpart, although both were eating the same huge amounts of high-fat, high-sugar unhealthy comfort foods.
It’s the stress hormones and peptides at play here, which become higher when we’re under pressure. But several studies have shown that practicing yoga can tame anxiety and also lower levels of these chemicals.
9. Add Spices To Your Diet
Spices like ginseng, cayenne pepper, black pepper, oregano, cinnamon, cumin, turmeric, cardamom, and chili pepper can help you maintain a healthy weight by boosting metabolism and suppressing your appetite. These spices increase the thermogenesis process in your body. It means that your body burns fat to create heat, which also helps to boost metabolism and reduce fat storage in your body. In addition to their ability to help burn fat and balance blood sugar levels, these spices are some of your best sources of antioxidants which is beneficial for overall health.
10. Practice Mindfulness
A study in which women practiced mindfulness techniques like meditation for four months, found out that those who showed the biggest improvement in awareness of thoughts and feelings reduced their abdominal fat the most.
Practicing mindfulness will not only benefit you in weight loss but it can improve your overall health since you are going to be in the present moment and you will likely make mindful choices and decisions.
Though losing weight for women after 50 is not easy, it is still possible as long as you make an effort to do things that will boost your metabolism. Women over 50 should consider these ways to increase their metabolism not only to lose weight but also to avoid chronic diseases and increase their longevity. We hope that the tips we mentioned above helped you. If you enjoyed and learned from this article please share it with other women who want to increase their metabolism to lose weight and have a healthier life. Thank you and we wish you good health!