Here are some expert-approved tips that will help you change your diet, lose weight, and set you up for better health in your 50’s and beyond. Stay tuned next week for tips 4-7.
Tip No. 1: Focus on fat loss, not weight loss.
Forget about stepping on the scale. As you age, you cannot afford to lose muscle, organ tissue, or bone mass, which means focusing on the number on the scale is especially inappropriate. Instead simply measure your waist size. The general rule of thumb is that your waist size should be no more than half your height. So, a woman who's 5' 4" (or 64 inches) should have a waist size no larger than 32 inches; a man who's 5' 9" (or 69 inches) should have a waist no larger than 34.5 inches.
Tip No. 2: Drink plenty of water.
This is a tip for anyone trying to lose weight and boost overall health, but it's especially important as we get older. That's because as we age, the hypothalamus (which controls our hunger and thirst) becomes desensitized, dulling our thirst signals.
Plus, many older people avoid drinking water so they can avoid running to the bathroom constantly. This is especially true for men with prostate issues and women with bladder limitations.
Since water is key for digestion and metabolism—and our bodies can easily mistake thirst for hunger, which causes us to eat more than we actually need—it's important to make sure you're getting enough. You might set an alarm on your phone at regular intervals so you're reminded to keep sipping throughout the day.
Tip No. 3: Add strength training to your routine.
Muscle mass decreases with age. (At age 50, you've got about 20% less muscle mass than you did when you were 20, and unfortunately it only goes downhill from there.) You also know that muscle loss equals a slower metabolism, which explains why you're more likely to put on (and hold on to) those extra pounds that seem to creep up with every birthday. But there is something you can do about it: lift weights.
Of course, if you don't have a consistent weight training regimen, you'll want to start slowly and lift light weights; this will give your body time to adapt without placing too much strain on your muscles or joints and help you avoid injury.
However, don't get too comfortable with an easy resistance-training program. It is important to aim to gradually increase the amount of weight you lift. It's critical that significant resistance exercise be incorporated into any fat loss plan over age 60.
You know you're lifting the right amount of weight if you can just barely make it to the end of your repetitions before needing to rest.
Next week, see our blog for tips 4-7!