Hitting 50 is a huge milestone and one that should be celebrated. It’s also a time many people take to reflect on their past and look forward to the future. For women, it marks the start of an important phase in their life, the menopause. This can bring out many physical changes, one of which being unwanted abdominal fat and weight gain, the reasons for which we will explore later.
Staying in control of your weight is a struggle many women experience through life. In fact, an American study by Runfola et al., 2013 found a staggering 80% of women were unhappy with their body and wanted to lose weight.
Unfortunately, as we age, weight loss doesn’t get any easier. Not only does our metabolism naturally slow down but we also lose 3-8% of our muscle mass per decade after 30 years old, with an increased rate of decline after the age of 60 (Melton LJ et al., 2000).
This is detrimental to the weight loss process as muscle mass is a very metabolically active cell that acts as a natural calorie burner.
Although it may seem like the cards are stacked against you, they aren’t! There a two key lifestyle changes you have at your disposal to fight back, diet and exercise! This guide is designed to make the weight loss process easier than you thought.
X Boom Fitness was founded with the goal of creating a resource for those of us who are well past the early years of our lives. Over 50's fitness is heavily focused on this site.
In this article you will learn some easy to implement diet and exercise tips that will lead you down a path to a younger and healthier you. Females over 50 there is hope!
Over 50 Diet Advice For Women
It's not all about aerobic exercise physical activity and the latest HIIT workouts. Losing weight on paper is simple, all we need to do is consume fewer calories than we expend, which puts us in what is known as a ‘calorie deficit’.
Of course, we must avoid the opposite of consuming more calories than we expend (calorie surplus), which is when weight gain occurs.
So how many calories do you need and how big a deficit do you need to be in? This varies from person to person depending on your height and weight. As a general rule of thumb, multiplying your body weight in pounds by 15 will give you a rough estimate of your maintenance calories.
Example: A 54yo woman who weighs 150lbs would have an estimated maintenance of 2,250.
For a more accurate estimate, try one of the many maintenance calorie calculators online.
Once your activity level has been considered, a deficit of 500 calories will result in a healthy and sustainable weight loss of 1lb per week. Of course, putting it into practice is the tricky part! So how do we reach our 500 calorie deficit goal? Here are a few dietary tips you can try for yourself!
Reduce Portion Sizes – Perhaps the easiest starting point on your weight loss journey is to simply cut portion sizes. Cutting each meal by just 10% can do a long way to cutting those calories!
Plenty of Protein – Protein plays a huge role when it comes to weight loss. Not only does it help maintain muscle mass (which is linked to a naturally higher metabolism) but research has shown it to also cut cravings and suppress your appetite throughout the day (Department of Human Biology, Maastricht University 2008).
Try Intermittent Fasting – Shortening the period of time you eat during the day will naturally reduce the number of calories you consume. Try skipping breakfast and pushing your first meal to lunch so you end up eating from 12 pm, and have your final meal at 8 pm.
Kelsey et al., 2018, found that 8-hour time-restricted feeding reduced calorie intake 341±51 a day and resulted in a 2.6% ± 0.5 drop in body weight over a 12-week period.
Drink plenty of water – Last but certainly not least is your water intake. Drinking water before a meal will reduce hunger, ultimately leading you to consume fewer calories (Davy, BM et al., 2008). Research has also found just 500ml of water to increase metabolic rate by 30%, with a total thermogenic response of around 100 calories (Boschmann, M et al., 2003).
Many women may notice weight gain during the menopause. This is due to a number of natural factors, including; Hormonal Changes: During the menopause, the female hormone oestrogen rises and falls causing an increase in storage of fat (Lizcano & Guzman, 2014).
Increased Insulin Resistance: When we consume sugar, our bodies release insulin. When we consume excess sugar, excess insulin is produced which is then stored in our fat, muscle and liver cells. Once our bodies capacity is reached, the excess sugar begins to convert to fat as future energy storage.
The menopause has been found to increase our resistance to insulin, therefore leading to an increase in fat storage. (Proudler AJ, Felton, CV & Stevenson JC, 1992).
Both during and after the menopause, resting energy expenditure declines. This can make weight loss even trickier, but not impossible! Along with eating in a calorie deficit try to incorporate some exercise into your daily routine.
Over Fifties Workout Tips
To lose weight most effectively, we must design our workouts accordingly. To do this we need to focus on full body exercises that involve the use of multiple muscle groups. This can be done in both your cardiovascular and resistance training sessions. To start, let’s explore some cardio workouts.
Cardiovascular Training Tips for Weight Loss: I am sure you are familiar with the traditional steady state method of cardio and although it’s a solid option that is tried and tested it can be rather time consuming and boring. Instead, why not try some high-intensity interval training.
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): HIIT provides a number of added benefits such as its ability to burn 25 – 30% more calories during the same amount of time as traditional cardio Falcone et al. (2015).
It is also one of the most effective ways to improve heart health by reducing resting heart rate and blood pressure (Batacan et al., 2016). Here are 3 HIIT sessions of increasing difficulty for you to try for yourself.
Session 1 - 20 seconds on / 40 seconds off x 10, total time 10 minutes
Session 2 - 60 seconds on / 90 seconds off x 8, total time 20 minutes
Session 2 - 60 seconds on / 90 seconds off x 8, total time 20 minutes
Exercise selection is only limited to your imagination. If you are at home, some burpees or jumping jacks will do the job. If you are at the gym, try some weighted movements such as kettlebell swings or dumbbell lunges.
For more information, take a look at our HIIT workout article by clicking here.
Resistance Training Tips for Weight Loss: Although cardio training is great for burning calories, that doesn’t mean it is the only form of training you should be doing! Resistance training or strength training is important for stimulating protein synthesis which leads to an increase in muscle mass, and as we know, carrying more muscle mass increases your resting metabolic rate. Also, who doesn’t want to look good once all that unwanted fat has been shed!
So which resistance exercises are optimal for weight loss?
Workout 1 (Lower)
Barbell Back Squat (3 sets x 10 reps): Place your feet a little wider than shoulder width and walk up to the bar (preferably on a squat rack or stands) - place the bar horizontally across the upper back. Take in a depth breath and simultaneously break at the hips and knees. Lower until your legs reach a 90-degree angle at the knee and then drive up through your midfoot.
Deadlift (3 sets x 10 reps): Walk up to a loaded barbell with your shins 1 – 2 inches from the bar. With your feet under your hips bend down and grab the barbell at shoulder width. Bracing your core while keeping your back flat and hips down pull the bar off the floor to lockout.
Lunges (3 sets x 12 – 15 reps each leg): This can be performed with a dumbbell, barbell or just with your body weight. Simply step forward with your left leg, keeping your left knee aligned with your left foot. Tap your right knee on the ground and stand back up.
Workout 2 (Upper)
Dumbbell Bench Press (3 sets of 12 reps): Laying flat on a bench with a dumbbell in each hand, lower them to your chest then back up to a fully locked out position.
Bent over Rows (3 sets of 12 reps): Holding a dumbbell in each hand, hinge at your hips while keeping a slight bend in your knees. Row the dumbbell towards your chest and back down.
Dumbbell Shoulder Press (3 sets of 12 reps): Standing up with a dumbbell in each hand, bring them to your shoulders and press towards the ceiling.
Whether its cutting down the size of your meals, or throwing in a few workouts per week, it all helps towards your weight loss goal!