By the time you hit 30, filling out tax forms and taking care of other “grown up” stuff is a whole lot easier than it was in your 20’s. But if there’s one thing that seems to be harder with each passing year, it’s maintaining and losing weight.
No matter how hard you try to keep the weight off, the bone and muscle loss that comes with age slows metabolism, making it more of a challenge to maintain a trim physique. What’s worse, diet tricks that worked for you in the past may no longer help the pounds come off. To help you keep your fat-burning furnace humming, we asked a group of top nutritionists which diet tips you should kick to the curb after you’ve hit the big 3-0. Here, they reveal just that, plus slim down tricks to try instead. Read on to get in the know.
USE “DIET” FOODS TO LOSE WEIGHT
“While younger folks can get away with skipping breakfast or simply eating a starchy ‘weight loss’ cereal or bar, current research suggests that eating 20 to 30 grams of protein at each meal is ideal for satiety, metabolism and weight loss—especially as we age. To hit the nutritional mark at breakfast, consume two whole eggs, a glass of milk and a piece of fruit. Alternatively, you can enjoy a shake blended with almond milk, half a banana, a tablespoon of almond butter and a scoop of your favorite protein powder.” — Chris Mohr Ph.D., RD, nutrition expert and former sports nutritionist for the Cincinnati Bengals
“Diet shakes, bars and boxed meals are highly processed, filled with sugar, sodium and chemicals and provide little nutrition. Even so, many people in their teens and 20’s turn to these products to lose weight—and they often work in the short term. However, once we’re in our 30’s, insulin production is more sensitive to sugar and processed food, and our bodies tack those calories on as fat more readily. Stick with clean, healthy foods to keep your metabolism running strong and energy levels high.” — Kristin Reisinger, MS RD CSSD, founder and owner of IronPlate Studios
SKIP MEALS TO SAVE CALORIES
“In the past, skipping meals might have helped you reach your weight loss goal, but after a certain age, the body wises up. The more you try to restrict, the more your body will store calories as fat in case it needs to use them. It’s important for health, energy and metabolism to eat every four to five hours.” — Lisa Moskovitz, R.D., founder of The NY Nutrition Group
“Skipping meals not only zaps energy and makes you feel deprived, but also makes it more difficult to consume the nutrients needed for total health and weight maintenance. Although emerging research suggests caloric restriction or having fewer daily meals can promote weight loss and promote longevity, the findings aren’t strong enough to change longstanding recommendations. It’s prudent to eat meals or snacks at least three or four times daily—especially in the morning and afternoon while you’re expending physical and mental energy. Consume low-calorie, filling foods (like vegetables, fruits and lean proteins) to promote a slow, steady weight loss.” — Elisa Zied, MS, RDN, CDN
“Many people who are trying to lose weight will restrict their eating to just one daily meal. This may work for teens and those in their 20’s, but for most it doesn’t work long term. When you skip meals, it can slow metabolism over time and lead to overeating. The trick is to eat consistently. Aim for three daily meals and one or two snacks throughout the day to keep blood sugar balanced and metabolism going strong.” — Isabel Smith MS, RD, CDN, registered dietitian and founder of Isabel Smith Nutrition
WORKOUT TO “UNDO” DIET INDULGENCES
“As we age, lean muscle mass naturally decreases, and our metabolism slows down. Exercise is important to help maintain a lean body composition, but it doesn’t give us the freedom to eat a ton of excess calories. The calories burned from exercise generally don’t offset the calories consumed in food. Exercise for your health, but don’t rely on it to undo your dietary indulgences.” — Sarah Koszyk, MA, RDN, owner Family. Food. Fiesta.
“When we’re younger, eating healthier seemed pointless when you could just go to the gym 24/7 to lose weight. Unfortunately, as the body ages, exercise still has plenty of positive benefits, but weight loss is often not one of them. When it comes to dropping pounds, a healthy diet and moderate exercise—both weight training and cardio—are key. Since metabolism slows as we age, you need to focus on both aspects of wellness to stay on track. ” — Lisa Moskovitz, R.D., founder of The NY Nutrition Group
SAVE FOOD CALORIES FOR ALCOHOL
“It’s common for college coeds to eat less food so they can drink alcohol that evening without taking in excess calories. Doing so is a bad idea at any age, but especially after 30. After you turn 30, you’ll likely have more responsibilities, and you need to be focused almost every day of the week. If you’re not eating healthy calories—in the form of lean proteins, whole grains and fresh produce—your energy will plummet, your skin will look awful and you’re likely to over-consume alcoholic beverages and gain weight.” — Christine M. Palumbo, MBA, RDN, FAND, a Chicago-area registered dietitian and nutrition communications consultant
DRINK IN MODERATION
“Yes, drinking in moderation is better than downing an entire bottle yourself, but any amount of alcohol is bound to catch up with you. As we age, the body doesn’t metabolize alcohol as efficiently, and drunk junk food cravings become harder to ignore. It’s also increasingly difficult to get a good night’s rest with alcohol in your system. While you may have been able to get away with minimal sleep in your 20’s, that’s not the case in your 30’s and beyond. Sleepless nights lead to carb and sugar cravings the next day, which can contribute to further weight gain.” — Martha McKittrick, RD, CDE, a New York City-based registered dietitian
ELIMINATE “BAD” FOOD GROUPS
“Axing carbs or dairy may help you cut calories, but it can also set you up for lower nutrient intake, which is increasingly hard on the body as it ages. If weight loss is your primary motivator for eliminating food groups, focus on reducing portions and eating nutrient dense versions of shunned foods instead. Rather than eliminating carbs, for example, keep portions small and stick with whole grains over refined varieties.” — Elisa Zied, MS, RDN, CDN
GO ON A LOW-CAL DIET
“When you were younger, you may have been able to starve yourself to drop a quick ten pounds before bikini season, but this is almost impossible once the age ‘odometer’ turns to 30. Not to mention, it’s really unhealthy. Little by little, the metabolism slows down, and it’s tougher to drop weight quickly. Also, when you’re young, you can bounce back physically from a quick weight loss, but it will take its toll and can cause skin problems, hair loss and diminished energy when you try it after 30.” — Christine M. Palumbo, MBA, RDN, FAND, a Chicago-area registered dietitian and nutrition communications consultant
WEIGH YOURSELF REGULARLY
“While stepping on the scale can be a good measure of weight maintenance in your teens and 20’s, once you’re older things aren’t as simple. As we age we tend to lose muscle and store fat, but numbers on a scale won’t necessarily reflect that right away. To catch on to body composition changes, use a pair of your favorite jeans instead of a scale. Snug jeans are an indication that you should watch your diet and incorporate strength training into your fitness routine. This will help your body hold on to more muscle mass and keep your metabolic rate from plummeting.” — Marisa Moore, MBA, RDN, LD, owner,Marisa Moore Nutrition
Those are some things to think about. What do you think?