Weight Control becomes much more of a challenge as you get older. If you eat the same way you did in your teens and don't increase your physical activity, you'll steadily gain weight. There are several factors that work against you, such as decreased metabolically active muscle tissue, as well as high levels of stress that contribute to mindless eating and snacking on comfort foods.
As you get older, the decline in testosterone and estrogen makes it harder to avoid those extra pounds of body fat. At age 30, you begin to slowly lose muscle mass each year. You might also begin to feel hungrier, which complicates matters further. Studies show that the hormone leptin, which helps control appetite, begins to slowly decrease with age. This may cause you crave more than you need, and lead to overconsumption.
The good news? Lifestyle plays a key role in how much weight you gain. Let's look at 7 habits that will help you avoid age-related weight gain.
Embrace Strength Training
While all physical activity burns calories and promotes health, strength training will increase your metabolism. Adding muscle to your frame can modestly increase the number of calories you burn at rest. This gives you a weight control advantage. Exercises that are aerobic are beneficial for heart health, so include them in your weight-loss arsenal too. Aim for 30 minutes of aerobic exercise, like brisk walking or cycling, 3 days per week, and strength train at least 2. If you don't have weight, invest in resistance bands or do bodyweight exercises, like push-ups. Don't assume that walking is enough; you need strength training too.
Boost Your Protein Intake
Researchers found that including more protein in the diet helps control appetite, reduce sugar cravings, and aid in weight loss. It makes sense because protein keeps you full longer after a meal since it is the most satiating macronutrient. Increasing your protein intake also helps you maintain and build muscle mass as you strength train, which improves your metabolism. Instead of a high-carbohydrate bagel for breakfast, go for an omelet with vegetables instead. Make sure you eat a high-quality protein source with every meal.
Eat Less at Night
Some studies show that consuming more calories at dinner, as opposed to lunch and breakfast, increases the risk of metabolic syndrome and weight gain. Insulin sensitivity is higher earlier in the day, so your body can better process glucose and the calories you eat are less likely to be stored as fat. Make breakfast and lunch your big meals and eat a light dinner. Avoid snacking after dinner. Enjoy a cup of herbal tea instead. Get into a pattern of eating like this and it will give you a weight-loss advantage, regardless of age.
Reduce Sugar in Your Diet
Eating a diet high in sugar increases the risk of weight gain and insulin resistance. Plus, studies show a diet high in sugar, particularly sweet beverages, is linked with a greater risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
How can you trim the sugar from your diet? Start by switching sugar-sweetened beverages for unsweetened green tea. The catechins in green tea give your metabolism a subtle boost that you won't get from other beverages. Then start cutting sugary packaged foods and processed snacks out of your daily diet. The more you stay away from sugar, the less you'll crave it. Your tastes really can change if you're patient. Slowly cut back on sugar and give your brain and taste buds a chance to adapt to less of the sweet stuff. Be patient and your cravings will become less frequent.
Improve Your Sleep Quality
Sleep, or lack of it, affects your appetite and body weight too. When you skimp on sleep, the appetite hormone ghrelin goes up and you feel hungrier. Studies show that people who sleep less than 5 hours per night are 4 times more likely to be obese relative to those who sleep for at least 7 hours. Work on optimizing sleep hygiene by:
Sleeping in a cool room (temperature no higher than 70 degrees F.)
Avoiding electronic devices within 2 hours of bedtime
Avoid caffeine after noon.
Take a warm bath before bedtime.
Sleep in a dark room.
Make your sleeping environment comfortable - comfy sheets, pillowcases, and mattress
Find Ways to Better Manage Stress
Chronic stress boosts levels of the stress hormone cortisol, leading to an increase in hunger and sugar cravings. Cortisol also causes fat storage to shift to your mid-section, the dreaded belly fat! Plus, if you have a high level of stress, you're more likely to snack on high-calorie comfort foods. There are many ways to manage stress. Some of these include:
• Nature walk
• Deep breathing
• Talking to a friend or a counselor
• Adopting a pet
• Engaging in a hobby you love
Mindfulness meditation is one of the best approaches since it also teaches you to be more mindful and engaged with how and what you eat. With mindful eating, you tune into the sights, texture, and aroma of each bit so that you're satisfied with less. It also teaches you to make smarter food choices.
Eat More Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are jam-packed with nutrients and fiber, yet they're low in calories. A study of more than 26,000 middle-aged and older women and men found those who ate more produce had a lower body weight, a lower body fat percentage, and a smaller waist size. Plus, adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet means you can eat a lot more food, making cutting back on calories painless. Switch starchy sources of carbohydrates, like white rice, pasta, and potatoes, for non-starchy vegetables, and watch your waistline narrow.
The Bottom Line
It's easy to put on weight over the years if you don't adjust your lifestyle habits. Start out with slow changes and build from there. Experts agree that lifestyle is a major factor in how much weight you put on over the years.
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