The post-50 fitness formula
Express News Service
Fifty is the psychological barrier in fitness. Losing weight at that age is a challenge. Age catches up with the waistline first, where stubborn fat accumulates, unlike in our 30s and 40s when it is easier to work it off. The reason is decrease in muscle mass.
Hormones can play havoc with women in their 50s, resulting in lard accumulating around the waist -oestrogen and progesterone hormones go off-kilter during menopause, which causes more fat accumulation around the mid section.
“Water retention and sluggish metabolism follow suit. This increases the risk of a cardiovascular event, in addition to type 2 diabetes most commonly,” says Bengaluru-based nutritional therapist Ritika Bhasin. But there is hope yet.
DUMP THE DIET
Data shows 97 percent of diets fail. The principle is the same for all—restrict calories. Many diets have harmful side-effects like loss of muscle mass, slowing the metabolic rate and trapping you in the starve and binge-eat vicious cycle. So east sensibly.
BE ON THE MOVE
Physical inactivity is a weight gainer in the 50s. Be on the move even at home. Consistently burning calories is the best way to lose weight. Choose the activity that works the best for you – cycling, swimming, jogging or walking. High-intensity workout is excellent. “It prevents muscular decline in seniors, improves respiratory function, and lowers glucose levels,” says Bhasin.
RESIST AND CONQUER
Any exercise where you lift or pull weights against resistance accelerates calorie burning. The levels of testosterone in both men and women decline as they cross fifties resulting in loss of muscle mass, bone density and strength.
Researchers have found that even short session of resistance training led to a temporary rise in testosterone production even in 60-year-olds. This boosts strength and libido. No need for a gym membership buy a set of good resistance bands and adjustable dumbbells to workout at home.
KEEP THE CARDIO SHORT
If you believe long hours of cardio works for fat loss in middle age, you are wrong. It can instead put stress on the central nervous system. Cardio sparks a rise in the stress hormone cortisol, which makes us pile up fat on the belly, the hip and the thigh.
Cortisol will leave your body desiring high energy foods; as a result you will overeat. Trainers recommend regular 20-minute sessions to accelerate fat loss, improve fitness and the heart’s functions. Shorter workouts mean more time for rest and recovery.
MORE PROTEIN LESS WEIGHT
Your food must be 40-45 percent of protein to beat the hunger pangs. “As we age, we become susceptible to sarcopenia or loss of muscle mass. Protein has key amino acids that build muscle health, keeping them mobile and alert,” says Delhi-based endocrinologist Manpreet Sood.
THE RIGHT CARBS ARE GOOD
Include 40-45 percent of carbs in your diet. Keep away from processed ones such as bread, cakes and pasta. Eat more carbs in the first half of the day and less at night. Experts advise lowering alcohol intake since booze contains empty calories. A little-known fact is that the body prioritises flushing out alcohol, and hence a lot of the food you’ve had will be stored as fat.
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