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When the Six Pack of Your Youth Becomes a Keg

When the Six Pack of Your Youth Becomes a Keg
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Fifty is the New Fifty is proud to feature Michael Spitzer and his book, Fitness at 40, 50, 60 and Beyond (   This is not a typical diet and exercise book. It dispels the myth that fat can be eliminated through exercise alone. Instead Mr. Spitzer recommends a healthy balance between diet and specific exercises that can help you to lose 30 lbs. in just 16 weeks. In this article and his book, Mr. Spitzer explains the effects of aging on the body and our ability to lose weight. While many books have been written about diet and exercise, few address the specific needs of people in our age bracket. Mr. Spitzer’s book also offers a three part program to help you lose weight and give you that physique that you thought you lost forever back in your 30s.

What to do When the Six Pack of Your Youth Becomes a Keg 

By Michael Spitzer

A common question often asked by people who get interested in improving their fitness later in life is just how much improvement they can expect to achieve. This interest often leads to the question … “Is it possible to have a visible six-pack of abdominal muscles at any age over 40, much less over 50?”

The answer is yes. However to achieve this goal, the first thing that must be done is to eliminate the myths and other misconceptions people have about leaning and tightening their waistlines.

To set the record straight:

1) Lean, refined and visible abdominal muscles are born in the kitchen, not in the gym.

Many people go to the gym 5-6 days per week, perform thousands of crunches and other midsection exercises but complain they can’t get a tight looking abdominal region. The fact is the abdominals are probably very strong and conditioned but they are hidden by a blanket of fat that makes them invisible.
Performing 2000 sit-ups and leg raises every day of your life will NOT change this situation.

2) Very few people can exercise long enough or hard enough to “burn” enough fat to make their abdominal muscles visible.

There is a misconception that only extremely high intensity workouts, spinning, or 60 minute long cardio sessions will generate the fat loss needed to get a tight lean midsection. Yes, resistance weight training and cardio are important for fitness but not in the way people commonly think.

Weight resistance training stimulates the production of lean muscle fiber. Lean muscle fiber is directly tied to your Basal Metabolic Rate. After the age of 30, the human body tends to lose 0.5-1.0 % of lean muscle tissue per year unless action is taken to slow that natural process of aging. If a person remains sedentary between ages 30 and 50, it is possible by age 50 they could have 20% less healthy muscle tissue.

This loss of lean muscle mass will then result in a slower metabolism and the difficult weight loss so many people complain about as they age. Cardiovascular exercise does of course burn calories, but it is actually more beneficial for keeping the heart and lungs healthy.

The reality is it is far easier to clean up the diet than it is to try and perform enough exercise to make a substantial difference in calorie expenditure. Refer to the chart below, it shows the typical calories an average sized person will expend in one hour performing various activities.

Activity                        Calories Expended Per Hour

Climbing                                  400-900

Cycling                                    250-700

Dancing                                  200-400

Golf                                        300

Hi-Intensity Cardio                    600-1100

Running                                  800-1000 (depending on speed)

Sawing Wood Logs                  420

Skating                                   300-700

Skiing                                     600-700

Soccer                                    550

Swimming                               300-700 (depending on stroke)

Walking (slowly)                        115

Walking (briskly)                        565

Walking (treadmill)                    700-800 (with incline and brisk pace)

Weight Training                        600

Now consider this single example: A hamburger meal at one of the nation’s most popular fast food restaurants contains 1,130 calories. Most of those are unhealthy fats and carbohydrates (but that is a whole other topic in itself). Referring to the chart above, you can see it would require an average sized adult 10 hours of casually walking around the block or over 60 minutes of non-stop High Intensity cardio just to utilize the calories from this single fast food meal.

Bottom line – If the diet is not cleaned up first, it is almost impossible to perform enough physical activity alone to produce great results.

3) Fat is not spot reduced from the body.

There is a common myth that somehow prevails today that fat can be eliminated from the midsection by using ab-roller wheels or other fancy gimmicks sold on TV. No..No..No.

Exercise will strengthen the core, but those muscles will still be hidden by a blanket of fat if other factors such as diet are not also corrected. When a person loses body fat, they lose it all over the body.

Interestingly enough, fat also tends to be lost in the exact opposite manner from which it was added.
This means if you first gained weight around your waist and hips, and then later began to accumulate extra fat in your arms — when you begin to lose fat, you will most probably see your arms get lean first and the hips and waist will be the last place fat disappears. First place gained = last place lost.

We could delve much deeper into the science of this topic, and in fact I do so in my book FITNESS AT 40,50,60 AND BEYOND — however, for the interest of this article, the reader in probably asking …

“OK, So what do I really need to do to get results?”

The True Path for Getting Those Abs

1) The first step is to evaluate your diet and make an estimate of what you think your “perfect” body weight will be when you are lean, chiseled and showing that chiseled midsection. Why is this important?

You need to eat for the body you want – not the body you have. Keep in mind of course this weight may change as you begin making progress. After all, the scales are a LOUSY tool for weight loss. Scales tell you nothing about your body composition. The mirror is really the most important tool for measuring your fat loss goals, but we need the scales if for no other reason than to have a place to start.

2) For the sake of example, let’s assume you are currently 185 lbs. and think based on memories from your youth that you will have the look you desire at around 155 lbs. You would then structure a diet that was 110-150 grams of protein per day. Your fat intake would be approximately 40 grams per day. Your carbohydrates would be approximately 30-120 grams per day as a starting point.

Since protein is the second most abundant constituent of the human body after water, it is the most important for ongoing repair and maintenance. Fats are needed for a variety of functions, but are not needed in excess quantities. Even when trying to reduce body fat, these protein and fat intake values should never change much.

Carbohydrates are like the fuel we put in our cars. The more you drive, the more you need.
If you want to lose weight, you need to force your body to tap into its fat reserves for energy.
The body will not tap into its fat reserves as long as there are excess carbohydrates being fed into the system.

In fact, body fat (not to be confused with dietary fat) can be thought of as a storage bank for excess carbohydrates. You should aim to spread your macronutrient intake over 4-6 smaller meals each day and adjust ONLY the carbohydrates to meet your weight loss goals. An example of a low-carb fat shredding diet is shown below.

Ultra-Low Carb Weight Loss Meal Plan for 150lb Individual

8 10 (3) 5 I slice Low Carb Bread, 2 Bacon slices, 1 slice Cheese
14 8 (4) 17 1- Egg, 1 Slice Cheese,1 Oz Almonds
48 6 (4) 2 Low Carb Protein Shake-Large
32 10 (4) 12 Chicken Salad w/ Low-Carb Tortilla
24 3 (2) 1 Low Carb Protein Shake-Small
30 6 (3) 3 ½ Grilled Chicken Breast & ½ cup Broccoli

Protein-gr Carb-gr Fat-gr TOTAL
156 43 40 CALORIES
Protein-cal Carb-cal Fat-cal CONSUMED
624 172 360 1156
% of Cal. % of Cal. % of Cal.
53.98% 14.88% 31.14% 100.00%

Note- Net Carbohydrates are shown in parenthesis.

You can see this sample diet plan provides a near perfect “fat shredding” balance of lean protein, complex carbs, fiber and essential fats.

3) With the diet now optimized for weight loss, the next step for getting that 6 pack is exercise.

Dispelling another myth …. No more than 3-4 days of exercise training per week are required to get a surprising level of fitness and conditioning when it is done properly.

What is required is a carefully structured balance of weight training and cardio that works all the major body parts and the abdominal region 3 times per week.

One may ask the question … “What about special abdominal exercises?”

Again the truth leads to the most straightforward answer. There are certainly a vast number of exercises that can be utilized to exercise the whole core midsection, however many people over age 50 have a variety of lower back problems or other aches and pains that might make some of the movements endorsed in modern fitness classes uncomfortable – or- even potential harmful.

For all but the most serious hard-core athlete, excellent results can be achieved with ….


Leg Raises

Side Raises

Lower Back Hyperextensions

These 4 exercises are basic “old school” movements that work as good today as they did for Steve Reeves (Star of the 1950’s Hercules movies) many decades ago.









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