Your 40s and 50s can be a great time in your life. The challenges of starting a family and establishing a career are typically behind us when we reach middle age, so we have more opportunity to enjoy life’s many pleasures. However, a lot of us also begin to notice that we’ve added a few extra pounds along the way. This happens, in part, because our metabolism slows down and our bodies are more likely to store fat, according to the journal Nature Medicine. Now here’s the good news: you can start losing weight after 40 and get back to feeling your best! We’ve put together this list of simple strategies to help.
Here are 10 tips for losing weight in your 40s and 50s:
1. Fill up on soluble fiber for healthy weight loss.
Foods that are high in fiber, such as non-starchy vegetables, fruits and whole grains, are often lower in calories and help you feel full for hours after you finish eating. Middle-aged people who simply increased their fiber intake shaved off about five pounds over an eight-week period and maintained that healthy weight loss for a year, says a research report, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
2. Lean on protein.
Muscle burns calories even when you’re at rest. However, we gradually lose muscle mass as we get older. Protein is the building block of muscle, so it’s essential to give your body a steady supply. Many types of protein come with loads of saturated fat, so you want to be sure you choose lean protein options, such as chicken or turkey breast, tuna and other PowerFuels.
3. Exercise: Strength Training.
Another key to maintaining muscle is regular strength training. You don’t need to lift heavy weights at the gym, if that’s not your thing. You can lift and curl large food cans at home. Or, you can use your body weight to do exercises such push-ups or planks and squats. Whatever suits you best, try to devote two or three days a week to strength training, along with daily cardiovascular activities such as walking, riding a bike or even dancing. Mixing up cardio and strength training will help increase your endurance, as well as build muscle. Best of all, regular activity keeps your metabolism burning calories, even while you are at rest.
4. Stock up on calcium.
Your body requires plenty of calcium to keep your metabolism cooking calories, too. Adults who increased the amount of calcium in their diets lost 22 percent more weight and 61 percent more body fat than those who just reduced their caloric intake, according to a report from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. Fat-free milk and yogurt are healthy sources of calcium that don’t load you up with extra calories.
5. Get to sleep.
As we age, our sleep cycles are more likely to be disrupted and we are asleep for shorter periods of time overall, says a research report, published in the journal Neuron. This is compounded by our busy lives, as we are rising early for work or staying up late to watch TV or scroll through social media. Many studies have found that chronic lack of sleep interferes with our metabolism and significantly increases our risk of obesity. Build the habit of turning off or reducing screen time before you go to bed each night and maintaining a regular bedtime to ensure you get the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep daily.
6. Go green.
Plain black coffee is calorie-free so it can be a part of your weight loss diet. However, if you drink too many cups during the day—especially when you’re tired—the caffeine content can further disrupt your sleep patterns. You also want to skip added sugar or sweet flavorings or high-fat creamers, which come with lots of extra calories. Even better, try drinking green tea, hot or cold. According to Healthline, “Compounds in green tea increase levels of hormones that tell fat cells to break down fat. This releases fat into the bloodstream and makes it available as energy.”
7. Squeeze a lemon.
Lemons, oranges and grapefruit all contain a healthy dose of vitamin C, which helps strengthen your immune system and protect you from illnesses. Plus, these juicy fruits also contain polyphenols, micronutrients that “suppressed body weight gain and body fat accumulation,” according to a study of laboratory animals, published in the Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition. This works, the researchers theorize, by causing their bodies to release an enzyme that burns fat. To enjoy these potential benefits yourself, you can enjoy the whole fruit or add the juice to sodium-free seltzer for a refreshing, low-calorie drink.
8. Mindful Eating Habits: Turn off the tube.
People who watch television while they eat consume 10 percent more per sitting than those who focus on their food, says a report, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Mealtimes are ideal for talking with others in your household and sharing your daily experiences. If you do snack while catching up on your favorite shows, pick your favorite items from the Nutrisystem snack menu, which offers you lots of sweet or salty options in just the right portion size.
9. Pass on the kids’ plates.
Wasting food feels wrong to many of us, so we may feel obligated to finish what’s left on our kids’ plates after they finish eating. But this practice can add lots of extra calories to our own diets without much thought about it. Instead, discard the excess and begin teaching your children about choosing the right portions for their appetites, a habit that will help them stay healthy when they become adults.
10. Get personalized.
When we reach middle age, we are different in many ways than when we were young adults. We hope to be wiser and to better understand that the choices we make may affect how we look and feel for the rest of our lives. If we have put on excess weight, we need an eating plan that suits our specific needs. That’s why the all-new personalized programs from Nutrisystem take into account age, as well as body type, gender, food preferences and more. Your personalized plan is the perfect way to shed extra pounds and feel better. And the right time to start is now. In just a couple weeks, you’ll notice a difference. And you’ll reap the benefits for years to come.