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Combating Midlife Weight Gain

Combating Midlife Weight Gain
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BY JORDANA LANDRES

Age may sometimes bring wisdom, but unfortunately weight gain and excess fat often come along for the ride.

Once you turn 40, your metabolism slows by 5% every decade. Metabolism is defined as the process by which your body converts food into fuel. Age, gender, lifestyle, emotional state and muscle to fat ratio are significant determinants in individual metabolism.

Are You In This Situation?

You’re no longer burning off calories the way you once could and you’re gaining weight even though you’re eating the same amount. Muscle mass also begins to decline after 40, twice as quickly in women as in men. All these factors converge into a perfect storm for fat accumulation and all its associated risks. Additionally, as estrogen levels drop, insulin levels rise, increasing your hunger as your thyroid levels dip. Visceral fat can begin to accumulate in your belly as your elevated insulin level begins spurring you to eat more and expend fewer calories.  Also known as omentum fat, its presence close to your vital organs raises your risk for developing heart disease, diabetes, and other serious health problems.

It can feel like pure unadulterated cosmic cruelty-like your body is conspiring to punish you for an innocent life pleasure—eating. The AC/DC song “Highway To Hell” comes to mind to describe the situation but it also presents an opportunity to pave a highway to health. You can fight back.

Put Your Food To Work

At this stage of your life, the quality, composition, and nutritive clout and efficacy of the foods you eat takes on a more intense significance than ever before.  So does how much physical work it takes to eat them. Refined/processed foods such as chocolate bars and muffins require no energy to digest and have little to no nutritional value–inert calories. They don’t burn- they get stored inside the body’s tissues.  Think of them as the toxic slackers of the faux-food kingdom.  Fibrous and protein-rich foods (vegetables, lean cuts of meat, and whole grains) are active calories. Your body has to work harder to process them during digestion because you have to chew them more. In short, your body burns them as you’re eating them, the chewing itself providing the octane to burn 30 % more calories. You can read more about active calories and this approach to weight control in The Active Calorie Diet by Leslie Bonci, RD.

Cutting your regular intake by 100 calories per day can help to halt weight gain brought on by changes in your mitochondria—structures inside cells that change fat to energy. Foods that are rich in soluble fiber (raspberries, beans and brown rice and steel-cut oatmeal) fill you up quickly, satisfy and are among the most powerful weapons you can have in your visceral and subcutaneous fat-fighting arsenal. Ironic, isn’t it- the same foods that “stick to your ribs” are instrumental in allowing those same ribs to emerge from the fat covering them.

Compounds in warming foods, spices, and teas stimulate metabolism by raising the body’s temperature and boosting calorie burn. Examples of these include chili peppers, cayenne pepper, Korean hot sauce, cinnamon, and ginger.  The first three contain capsaicin, a compound that gives chili peppers their heat and can help control your appetite.  The polyphenol compounds in teas can also be very helpful, in particular match green tea and oolong tea.

Weapons Of Mass Fat Cell Reduction (if not destruction):

The power of resistance training to burn fat combined with cardiovascular exercise can’t be overemphasized. You can’t eliminate fat cells—once present, they’re here to stay—but you can reduce their size very effectively.

Replacing fat with muscle is a critical component in maintaining or returning to a healthy weight. Muscle, even at rest, burns three times as many calories as fat. Your fat-burning capacity is also elevated by up to 25% as long as 15 hours after a workout session. For a workout that maximizes metabolism by combining strength moved with bursts of cardio go to http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/workout/lose-weight/metabolism/get-it-now-a-supercharged-metabolism/.

How you exercise also plays a part in maximizing your metabolism. The lowering or eccentric phase of an exercise when prolonged helps stoke metabolic fires. For a workout that maximizes metabolism by combining strength moved with bursts of cardio go to http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/workout/lose-weight/metabolism/get-it-now-a-supercharged-metabolism/.

By applying corrective nutritional and movement strategies, you can harness the power of  healing food to reverse the havoc the wrong food, a less than ideally active lifestyle and the body’s natural aging process can wreak.

 

 

 

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