One of the biggest mistakes women make when they start to gain weight is to cut calories. Often dramatically!
Unfortunately, this approach can quickly backfire.
Significantly cutting calories will result in weight loss in the short-term, but often it’s at the expense of your muscle mass and metabolism. If you skimp on protein, you lose muscle mass. If you skimp on good carbs, you can lose both body fat and muscle. If you skimp on calories overall, cortisol levels rise which encourages more weight gain.
When you factor in the estrogen/progesterone imbalance that begins around age 40, it’s a recipe for pure frustration!
Here are a few tips to help you maintain muscle and keep your metabolic furnace burning:
No breakfast skipping! This is a hotly debated topic and some recent research shows that it might not be as important as once thought to eat within 30 minutes of getting up. You don’t necessarily need a big meal to start your day, but do try to include some protein. A smoothie or shake with protein works great if you can’t handle more food first thing in the morning or are crunched for time. Eating protein helps keep you away from the vending machines mid-morning!Aim for 20 gm of protein and 30 grams of good carbs.
Eat more frequent meals. I recommend that my clients eat at least two snacks daily with 15 gm of protein and a healthy amount of fiber in addition to their regular meals. High protein snack ideas include: Greek yogurt, almonds, smoked salmon, apples with almond butter, raw veggies with hummus. Protein bars can be a good solution for on-the-go eating; however some are loaded with added sugar. Look for brands that have less than 5 gm of sugar. Note: this approach may not be the best approach for people with elevated insulin levels.
Balance your carbs. Super-low carb diets are effective for weight loss in the short term, but are hard to sustain in the long run. Carbs are important for energy and keeping them balanced means you’re less likely to binge on the next sweet treat that comes your way.
Some studies also suggest that very low carb (VLC) diets (<20% of calories from carbs) may lower T3 levels (the active form of thyroid hormone) or decrease the conversion of T4 to T3. If you begin having thyroid symptoms while eating a VLC diet, consider adding more carbs.
I recommend getting carbs from low glycemic index, unprocessed sources like root vegetables, sweet potatoes, steel-cut oatmeal, quinoa, black beans and other complex sources.
Know your basal metabolic rate (the number of calories you need to live) and make sure you eat at least that on a daily basis. If you are active, you need more than this. Dropping below this number can decrease your metabolism, increase cortisol levels and cause your body to burn muscle as a fuel source. You can calculate your basal metabolic rate using the link below.
Add weight training into your exercise routine. Muscle burns more calories and this also helps maintain bone health. Two days a week is all you need to see the benefits.
No access to a gym? There are plenty of exercises you can do using your body weight. Go here to find a list of 50.
Want to turn your body into a fat-burning furnace? Check out my Lose Fat over 40 program! We’re starting again on June 12. Click here for all the details.
Visit Dr. Anna’s website at www.drannagarrett.com.
Dr. Anna Garrett is a menopause expert and Doctor of Pharmacy. She helps women who are struggling with symptoms of perimenopause and menopause find natural hormone balancing solutions so they can rock their mojo through midlife and beyond. Her clients would tell you that her real gift is helping them reclaim parts of themselves they thought were gone forever.
Find out more about working with her at http://www.drannagarrett.com/work-with-me/.