Here are 7 tips to reverse weight gain as you get older. For many people, weight gain with age is inevitable. And, to some degree, that might be true. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to turn back the clock on those extra inches that crept in around your waistline – regardless of how old you are.
First of all, accept that your 30, 40, 50, 60+ something body is not the same as what it was when you were 20. Your metabolism, skin’s elasticity and the ability for your body to develop muscle the way it once did all changes. The optimal word is change. This doesn’t mean that you’re not hotter, sexier or more vivacious that you’ve ever been before. All of that comes from within. But just because you’re a few years older doesn’t give you license to willingly accept weight gain either. You might be able to afford a few extra pounds, but when that two or three pounds turns to 20 or 30, you’ve got a problem.
I’ve worked with both men and women, most of whom are over the age of 30. One of the top requests is to decrease weight that started to appear in recent years. Slowly but surely, lifestyles, habits and attitudes change. Most of those changes we can control with a little work. The physiological changes that happen can be minimized, too. Here are a few things you can do today that can make a big change tomorrow.
1) Start High Intensity Interval Training
Whoa! High intensity is tough and you’re a beginner at this whole thing, so you can’t do it, right? Yes, yes you can. High intensity interval training (HIIT) is a great form of training because you work to your fitness level. You don’t have to run a 4-minute mile or squat 300 pounds, but you do have to challenge yourself. HIIT is simply pushing yourself hard for a short period of time, then easing off for a short period of time. Cycle through a series of these hard/easy interval for 30 minutes, and you’ve just done a workout that will give you more bang for your buck than any “slow and steady” cardio workout on the elliptical or treadmill ever could!
I can’t stress how important HIIT is to your body’s ability to reverse weight gain. Around the age of 20, our body’s ability to produce human growth hormone drops. And when I say drop, I mean it does a swan dive. By the time we reach 30, we operate at very little naturally produced human growth hormone. Human growth hormone is what helps our body stay toned and lean, feeding muscle development. This is where HIIT comes it. HIIT actually increases your body’s human growth hormone. You don’t need to do these workouts every day, and they don’t need to be long, but they do need to be done right. Here is a sample HIIT workout for you to try. Subscribe to my newsletter for more workouts.
2) Intermittent Fasting
When it comes to weight loss, intermittent fasting flies in the face of eating small meals throughout the day, however, research has shown a lot of promise (and results) in people who fast intermittently. If you’ve never heard of intermittent fasting, it’s not as daunting as you’d think. For practical purposes, it’s really eating healthy, normal-size meals for eight hours a day, then pushing the plate away for the remainder of the day. Still sounds tough? Think of it like this, let’s say you finish dinner at 6:30pm. After dinner you don’t eat again until 10:30am the next morning. Call it a late breakfast, followed by a light lunch later in the afternoon, then a healthy dinner. That’s it.
Why is intermittent fasting so important? Intermittent fasting does a great job regulating insulin. In this case, think of insulin as your fat-storage hormone. When our insulin levels are out of whack, or when we become less sensitive to insulin, fat storage is almost inevitable. Human growth hormone is also affected by intermittent fasting. In fact, according to an Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute study, women who fasted for 24 hours increased human growth hormone levels by 1300%!
3) Cut back on grains and refined sugar
I highlight this not to suggest you start following a paleo-type diet, but because most people I work with are absolutely hooked on breads, pastas and refined sugar. When it comes to aging, the connection is important. When insulin levels are thrown off, the amount of human growth hormone released, especially if we eat closer to bedtime, is reduced. Later in the article you’ll see why sleep is so important to managing weight, but tied to that is grains and sugar. I’m not just talking about lollipops and ice cream, but I’m also talking about pretzels, bread and pastas. If you want to increase the amount of human growth hormone, you need to keep your nutrition in check.
A first step I usually recommend to my clients is to cut starchy carbohydrates to one meal a day. Bread, pasta, oats, rice, potatoes, wraps, bagels, etc., should be curbed to one meal every day – that’s it. After that, I urge clients to consider cutting out all refined sugar (read candy, cookies, brownies, ice cream) for a prolonged period. The goal is not to cut out carbs completely, rather control insulin levels that, if left unruly, can throw of myriad of hormones that play a role in increased body fat, particularly as we age.
Collagen is a big buzz word in anti-aging these days. Our body is always busy producing collagen, but as we get older, that amount decreases significantly. The processed form of collagen is gelatin. If you’ve ever eaten pudding or Jell-O, you’ve had gelatin! No, I’m not suggesting you go out and eat a bunch of Jell-O or pudding (please don’t). But if you’re not a strict vegetarian, consider adding a high quality grass fed gelatin to your diet every now and then. I add a teaspoon of gelatin to my morning shake. Gelatin is odorless and tasteless and easily added to foods. My preference would be hot cereal, like oatmeal, in the morning, or smoothies. This is the gelatin I use.
Gelatin is made up of all the amino acids our body needs. Since amino acids are the building blocks of protein, it makes perfect sense that an gelatin works to help manage weight as well! in fact, gelatin is well known for better managing fat metabolism and regulating cortisol levels.
A few benefits of gelatin include:
- Improves the elasticity of skin
- Reduces joint pain, and improves joint and bone health
- Improves strength and quality of hair and nails
- Regulates fat metabolism
5) Watch the caffeine
Caffeine isn’t necessarily the worst thing in the world, but it’s a trigger for cortisol, our body’s stress hormone. Everyone – from babies to the elderly produce cortisol. We need it. But we don’t need too much. When we’re young, we rebound back from stress much faster. After a stressful incident, such as an argument or a scary movie, a younger person’s level of cortisol increases, but then drops back down to normal shortly thereafter. As we get older, cortisol levels increase, but don’t return to that pleasant low. When we consume caffeine, our body’s cortisol levels increase. Perpetual levels of elevated circulating cortisol:
- wreak havoc on our immune system, increasing the likelihood that we’ll get sick
- thin the skin, creating wrinkles
- decrease our body’s ability to develop existing muscle tissue, increasing body fat
If you think you can’t live without coffee, you’re addicted – and that’s not good. What’s more, people generally only get the benefit (the “kick”) from caffeine with inconsistent use, that is drinking it every second day, for instance. Cut back on caffeine and think of ways to eliminate as many stressors from your life. Getting cortisol under control is something you can do easily and benefits you in more ways than you realize.
6) Add more high quality fat
Pretend that low and fat-free diets were ever a thing. Imagine a world where you can eat a good amount of really good, healthy fats and not get fat. That world is a reality. Millions of people still refuse to believe it, but it’s the truth. Without dietary fat, we put our body on the fast track to:
- premature aging: skin wrinkles faster
- increased visceral (belly) fat: we throw off our cortisol and insulin, thereby increasing belly fat
- decreased brain function: dietary fats protect our brains neurons and help with cognitive function
- nutrient deficiency: dietary fat helps absorb nutrients, like vitamins A, D, K and E
Before you throw that piece of fried chicken on your plate in lieu of the chicken breast, know this: the quality of fat you eat will make or break your body. Eating too much corn, canola and soybean oils will put you at greater risk for disease and increase free radicals (read: cannonballs of destruction) in your body.
High quality fats include: avocado, fatty fish, coconut oil, eggs, nuts, olive oil and butter (for some). You don’t need to over think it, just swap out the bad fats for the good fats and you’ll be in great shape.
Not everyone has the life where they can get a full eight hours of sleep, especially all those new moms out there! Nonetheless, it’s important that you make sleep a priority. Sleep is king of hormone regulation. Since hormones are the chemical messengers that tell our body when and where to store body fat or increase muscle tone, it’s pretty important we yield to some good shut eye.
As we sleep, our body should go through about 5 sleep cycles, each lasting between 90 and 110 minutes. At the deepest point in that sleep cycle, our brains secrete human growth hormone. Now that we know how important human growth hormone is, waking up ever hour or depriving our body of 5 full cycles naturally diminishing the ability for our body to take advantage of all that badly-needed human growth hormone.
A recent study conducted at the University of Chicago looked at two groups of people, both on a low-calorie diet. One group slept 5.5 hours a night, and another group slept 8.5 hours a night. Interestingly enough, both groups lost the same amount of weight (7 pounds), but the sleep-deprived group lost mostly muscle in comparison to the rested group that lost mostly fat. <—-This study was only conducted over a two week period! Bottom line: if you want to have a leaner, less fat body, get a full night of sleep.
Traci is a nationally-recognized health and fitness coach, and the current coach working with Steve Harvey’s Bridal Bootcamp. Traci has also been featured on Dr. Oz, The TODAY Show, in SHAPE, SELF and local news programs. Her specialty is weight loss through clean eating and interval-style training. Traci is available for private coaching and corporate consulting. To contact Traci, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.