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Science-Backed Way to Battle the Bulge at Midlife and Beyond

Here’s what to do if you’re looking to lose weight or prevent pounds from creeping on:

Focus on healthy foods. In general, increase your vegetable and low-glycemic fruit intake and decrease the amount of fast food, processed foods, and sugar you take in. You also want to prioritize whole foods — vegetables, beans, nuts, and fruit — that are full of fill-you-up fiber. It will make it easier to control calories as these are high-volume foods — they take up more room in the stomach — while contributing less calories to your daily intake.

Downsize your portions. Learning to adjust your diet to your body’s lower calorie needs is a gradual process. We suggest that you start by trimming 100 to 200 calories from your daily diet and adjust as needed from there. You’d be surprised to see what a big difference such a small change can make.

Stay well hydrated. It’s easy to confuse the sensation of thirst for hunger. Staying hydrated with water (rather than with calorie-rich beverages, such as sodas and fruit juices) also ramps up metabolism, increasing the breakdown of fat, suggests a review of several animal studies published in June 10, 2016, in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition.

Chill out. For many people, stress leads to stress eating. Do what you need to do to relax, whether it’s with a twice-weekly yoga class or short five-minute meditations throughout the day.

Give your major muscle groups a workout. That loss of muscle mass you read about earlier? Fight back by adding strength training to your exercise routine. You want to preserve muscle mass as much as possible. With more muscle, you burn calories more efficiently and you’re going to be more active because you have better balance and you have more stamina. A good place to start is with the National Institute on Aging’s easy at-home strengthening Go4Life exercise program.

Move more. Try to incorporate a half hour a day of aerobic exercise — which is anything that gets your heart rate up, such as jogging, walking, biking, or swimming — into each day. Can’t find the time to fit in 30 minutes all at once? Break it up by doing, say, three brisk 10-minute walks, throughout the day. Short bursts of activity have a cumulative effect and count toward a daily exercise goal.

Get a good night’s sleep. If you don’t wake up feeling energized, you’ll be less active during the day and will burn fewer calories as a result. Primack says to try to log somewhere between seven and nine hours of sleep per night.

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© 2020 by Lindsey Faucette, DO