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Battling Mid-Life Weight Gain

You’re not a teenager anymore, but that doesn’t mean you can’t rev up that metabolism and drop pounds.

November 4th, 2011

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Battling Mid-Life Weight Gain

Many readers are struggling with the same issues, and I frequently get asked similar versions of the same questions.

The following question is from one of our readers, and I thought the response might be helpful to many of you.

Q: I would love some advice on workouts and diet. I am 50 and, yep, that metabolism is starting to slow down. I am trying to do my 1250 calories and I keep track on my iPhone, but the scale stays exactly the same. I usually do my elliptical for 30 minutes a few times a week and/or a 30 minute walk. No gym membership at this time.

Does this sound familiar to you? I get this question a lot from people in their 40s or older, when their metabolism starts naturally slowing down.

QUIZ: Are You Getting the Right Nutrients?

The reader has it right: Metabolism, metabolism, metabolism. In my last article, I outlined a simple plan to maintain metabolism and lose weight. Based on the information in that article, along with a few new specifics, here is my breakdown of the issue and my advice:

Concern #1: Your calorie intake is too low. 

If you truly are only consuming 1250 calories a day, you’ve got to consider the likelihood that you are losing calorie-burning lean tissue, such as muscle, especially given the fact that strength training isn’t currently part of your routine. A decrease in muscle mass brings with it a decreased metabolism. The unchanging scale, or weight loss plateau, tells you that you are now eating as many calories as you are burning. Given that fact, your typical options for additional weight loss would be to decrease calories further, or increase the number of calories you burn through exercise or the thermic effect of food. In your case, you do not want to cut your calorie intake more than you already have. It is already low, and maybe too low to promote a high metabolism. Gradually, we want to bring your calorie consumption back up a bit. But not right away.  For now, try a trick that has mainly anecdotal rather than empirical evidence of effectiveness. It’s called calorie cycling, and the goal is to get your metabolism off of steady-state calorie-sparing mode.

COLUMN: The Deal on Calorie-Counting, by Dr. Oz & Dr. Roizen

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