If you’re over 50 and want to lose weight, here are the keys to doing it the healthy way
There is no age limit when it comes to looking better, improving your health and losing body fat. And therefore 50 should not be an excuse. Normally there are many people who excuse their age by saying that after X years it is very difficult and impossible to get the body they want, but that’s because they have not known how to do things right.
During this age it is very important to maintain muscle mass as you lose weight.
Not to reach the limit
As the years go by, our muscle mass becomes less tolerant to strength training (this does not mean that it is bad, but that it is necessary to measure the workouts better). One of the mistakes many people make is to go to the limit in their workouts, causing the body to use a lot of energy to repair the damage done and not generate new muscle mass.
In people who are 50, it is important not to reach physical exhaustion or, if it is reached, it should be in monoarticular exercises such as a biceps curl or triceps extension. In multi-joint exercises such as squats, deadlifts, bench presses, etc., it is best to stay within two or three repetitions of our possibilities.
Increasing daily physical activity
When it comes to creating a caloric deficit, it is not enough to simply reduce food intake and that’s it, we need to increase physical activity through strength training and increase low-impact movement such as walking. Let’s take two scenarios:
One person ingests 1,800 kcal and expends 2,200 kcal, generating a deficit of 400 kcal.
Another person ingests 2,200 kcal and expends 2,600 kcal, also generating a deficit of 400 kcal.
We have both people who are generating a caloric deficit of 400 kcal, but it will be case 2 that maintains more muscle mass and loses more body fat.
This is due to the fact that by introducing a greater amount of nutrients, even though the same deficit is being made, the body understands that there is plenty of food and does not generate a stress high enough to cause the loss of muscle mass.
This is something that should be done at all ages because of the benefits it provides. In addition, as time goes by, muscle mass is more difficult to maintain and can even diminish, generating serious health problems such as sarcopenia.
In addition, in the case of wanting to lose weight, strength training becomes more important because in a caloric deficit some muscle mass will be lost, and what we intend to do with this training is to lose as little as possible.
Limited caloric deficit
Without a caloric deficit there can be no loss of body fat. As we mentioned before, during caloric deficit it is easier to lose muscle mass, so it is important that when it comes to losing body fat we do not make a very aggressive deficit.
Normally, people usually make a deficit of up to 1,000 kcal at the beginning of a stage of body fat loss (although such an exaggerated deficit cannot be maintained). What we suggest with people over 50 years of age is that the deficit should not exceed 300-400 kcal because this will greatly reduce the chances of losing muscle mass and there will be a large enough deficit for the loss of body fat to progress.
Increasing the consumption of fruits and vegetables
Although it is vital to introduce fruits and vegetables for optimal health maintenance, at this age it becomes more important. Fruits and vegetables are foods that have large amounts of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients beneficial to the body that have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, etc. effects.
This population group is less efficient at using the antioxidants and anti-inflammatories that we have endogenously, causing part of their energy to also be directed to reduce these oxidants and inflammatory agents and not to lose body fat or maintain muscle mass.
Therefore, introducing it exogenously as with fruits and vegetables or any other type of plant-based food will be vital to achieve the goal of losing weight in a healthy way.
Introducing more protein
The proteins we include in our diet are necessary for the maintenance of muscle mass. After a certain age, what is called anabolic resistance starts to appear. This is not a disorder or disease. Simply, as we get older, our body is less efficient at using protein to build muscle tissue, so it is vital that a minimum amount of 1.6 grams per kilogram of body weight is introduced.