Extra inches can easily creep on once we’ve hit 50. It’s the dreaded ‘middle aged spread’ we’ve all heard about. Losing weight after 50 can be tough for all sorts of non-negotiable reasons.
We talked in this post about the mistakes that we typically make after 50, but trying to lose weight isn’t one of them. Keeping your weight under control can ensure better health as we age, ensuring a better quality of life.
Our metabolisms slow down which means all the lovely food we’re consuming isn’t getting burned off as easily as it was a couple of decades ago. Factor in hormonal changes and we can soon feel like the battle to shift those stubborn excess pounds is a pointless one.
Maybe we just need to sign up for an expensive gym membership and sweat it off?
Exercise is a key component in boosting well-being as we age, but it isn’t the only aspect to consider if we want to lose weight.
To Zumba or not to Zumba?
One of the biggest misconceptions surrounding weight loss is the fact that to lose it, all we need to do is hire a personal trainer to make every part of us hurt three times a week.
The hard truth is that people can go running for miles daily or spend hours every week in spin classes and they still won’t see the weight coming off. It just won’t. Not in isolation and with no other changes to their lifestyle.
You may have even seen it for yourself. The same middle-aged lady jogging every day at the same park for months on end but she’s still as – ahem- ‘robust’ as the first time you noticed her. Guess what? She’s not alone. There are multitudes of dedicated exercisers out there just like her.
Is it worth the pain?
Now, of course, some exercise is better than no exercise as it’s been proven to help us enjoy a better, pain-free middle age. The dedication to regularly getting up to move our bodies after 50 is always a good thing. By doing so you’ll feel and look better than you would if you’d opted to stay at home on the couch enjoying a binge-watch or two. But we’re here to talk about weight loss and so only hard, cold results matter.
So we’ve established an important fact: exercise alone is not enough to lose weight.
Which brings me to this important point: weight loss is not the be all and end all. It’s not the magic factor that brings everlasting happiness and contentment. But it can give you a much-needed boost in confidence and often that can be the one thing you need to push you on to achieve your next goal.
There is another crucial factor involved in weight loss, and that is our diet.
The importance of what we eat when trying to lose weight cannot be overestimated. In fact, many people will say successful weight loss is 70% diet and 30% exercise. In bodybuilding, there’s a saying, ‘abs are made in the kitchen’. This is so true. What we eat is reflected in our bodies.
Diet won’t just affect your weight loss results; it will also impact your physical and emotional wellness along with the exercise you’re doing.
Let’s take a closer look to find out why.
Calories in, calories out.
One hour of intensive cardio work may burn between 400 and 500 calories. That’s an hour of hard work. Sweating, struggling and wishing for most of it that you were anywhere else but there.
Eating a large burger with fries from a well-known fast food establishment will amount to almost 600 calories [source]. This is a meal you can eat in less than 20 minutes. It’s enjoyable and, for most of us, infinitely preferable to sweating our bits off on a treadmill.
So in one swift and easy move we wipe out a one hour-plus workout in 20 mins. It’s very easy to consume thousands of calories in a day but it’s impossible to burn thousands of calories every day. You might want to try but you’d be exhausted and burnt out within a few days, especially if those calories come from junk foods with lesser nutritional value.
Therefore, we do need to watch what we eat if we want to lose weight. Exercise and training must be fuelled by what we eat and not left to chance. Avoiding sugary foods, white bread, pasta, white rice, and alcohol is advisable. Consuming good quality protein (lean chicken, fish, tofu and lentils for example) with every meal will boost your weight loss and eating ‘good’ fats (avocados, oliver oil, salmon) will have additional positive effects on your body.
Calculate how many calories a day you need to lose weight. This can be easily done by using an online calorie calculator such as this one.
Once you know how many calories you need, make 20% of those calories come from carbs and the rest from a balance of protein and fats. Contrary to popular belief, eating fat will not make you fat. Eating an excess of carbohydrates, i.e. a greater calorific value than you burn, causes you to gain weight more easily than eating fat. So, it is a great idea to monitor your carbohydrates and when you do eat them, make sure they’re nutritionally superior, such as whole grains, brown rice, and wholemeal bread.
Get The Balance Right...
Once you’re following a balanced and controlled diet plan, eating the right foods in the right proportions, you’ll be able to calculate how much exercise you need to do to burn fat.
Typically to lose one pound of fat you must burn 3500 calories, so a daily calorie deficit of 500 will mean that you lose one pound of fat per week (which is a healthy and sensible rate to lose weight)
So, once armed with this info, if you plan your exercise to burn 3500 calories per week you should see one pound of fat come off. You’ll will lose weight if you follow this rule of thumb.
One side note: please do not be tempted to put yourself through a crash diet to see quicker results. It isn’t healthy nor is it sensible; your body deserves better.
Treat it with respect and love, and it will love you right back!