The more a woman ages, it’s less likely that there’s just “one” thing that will make everything magically fall into place when it comes to losing fat. Each decade (and the decisions made during it) adds it’s own unique piece to the fat loss puzzle. It’s important to know how it’s ALL been compounding in order to decide exactly how much time (if any) we want to dedicate to “fixing” perceived problems.
Let’s breakdown the common fat loss struggles that women face at every age and discuss practical tips and advice for overcoming them. Whether you’re in your 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, or beyond, we will cover the unique challenges that each decade brings and provide strategies to help you achieve your weight loss goals.
(for more detail, watch full video below)
The 20s: Navigating a Changing Lifestyle
During your 20s, transitioning from the active lifestyle of your teenage years to the demands of work, school, and social commitments can lead to weight gain. The combination of decreased physical activity, stress, and poor dietary choices can impact your ability to maintain a healthy weight.
Tips for Weight Loss in Your 20s:
Establish an exercise habit, begin strength training.
Opt for whole, nutrient-dense foods over processed options.
Manage stress through relaxation techniques like yoga and meditation.
The 30s: Hormonal Changes and Work-Life Balance
In your 30s, hormonal changes related to pregnancy, perimenopause, or menopause can make weight loss more challenging. Additionally, busy schedules and increased responsibilities can result in a sedentary lifestyle.
Focus on a balanced diet rich in lean proteins, whole grains, and vegetables.
Prioritize sleep to support metabolism and hormone balance.
The 40s: Combating Muscle Loss and Hormonal Shifts
Muscle mass that has been slowly declining since your mid 20s, becomes a drastically noticeable hit to your metabolism by mid 40s. Hormonal shifts during this decade can further complicate weight loss efforts, which is why this is the decade that many women suddenly wonder why weight loss gets harder with age…
Tips for Weight Loss in Your 40s:
Increase protein-rich foods in your diet to support muscle preservation.
Prioritize strength training to maintain muscle mass and metabolism.
Stay hydrated to support metabolic processes.
The 50s and Beyond: Hormonal Challenges and Health Factors
Entering your 50s and beyond can bring about hormonal changes associated with menopause, leading to weight gain, especially around the abdomen. Health issues and medications can also contribute to challenges in weight management.
Tips for Weight Loss in Your 50s and Beyond:
Prioritize a well-balanced (high protein, high fiber) diet that meets your calorie needs.
Consult your healthcare provider to discuss hormonal changes and medication effects.
Conclusion: Embracing a Lifelong Health Journey
No matter your age, weight loss is achievable with the right strategies and mindset. Embrace a holistic approach that includes regular physical activity, a balanced diet, stress management, and sufficient sleep. Remember, the journey to health is a marathon, not a sprint, and small, sustainable changes can lead to significant improvements in your well-being.
By understanding the unique weight loss struggles that accompany each decade, you’re better equipped to navigate challenges and make informed choices that support your health and happiness throughout your life.
If you listen to the media, fat loss can sound pretty complicated. High carb, low carb, nutrient timing, intermittent fasting, carb cycling, ketogenic diets, carb backloading, juicing, green smoothies, magical supplements…
It can be challenging to keep a level head and avoid all the latest trends, wondering if a tweak (or two) might be a way to break out of a plateau or to get better results. There are definitely times to include a tweak, but generally speaking, its best that you save these for times that you really need them.
So how do you know if its time to include a tweak?
At EM2WL, we encourage you to take a very no-nonsense, simplified approach to fat loss with minimal rules. Instead of spinning your wheels to figure out which diet is best — take a moment to strip away the “nonsense” from various diet plans that are often just minute variations on the basics. There are a few best practices that we believe to be critical to your success. It’s best to make sure that these elements are firmly in place before tweaking anything.
Think about building a successful fat loss program like building a house. When building a house, you wouldn’t want to try putting up walls before the basic foundation has been laid. Without a firm foundation to build upon, everything else is pretty useless.
What makes up the foundation of a successful fat loss program? We believe there are four key components that are critical to have well established before incorporating any other “tweaks.” We recommend looking over your current fat loss plan and evaluating whether you have a good handle on the following four elements before making any additional changes. How do you measure up?
1. Sufficient calorie intake
If you’ve been following EM2WL for some time, you know that we firmly believe that eating enough is a key component of a successful fat loss plan. The standard “eat less, exercise more” model of weight loss can lead to more muscle than fat loss, lowering your metabolic rate over the long term. Without eating enough calories, you run the risk of causing metabolic damage which does more harm than good. If you’ve been dieting for a very long time and are not seeing the results that you desire, it is very likely that you would benefit from doing a metabolic reset. If you are still struggling to get in an appropriate number of calories daily, it is highly recommended that you become consistent there before incorporating any additional changes. If you’re curious about how many calories is considered sufficient, check out our calorie calculator.
Not only do most women typically not take in enough calories, but tend to be lacking in the protein department as well. This macronutrient can be one of your biggest weapons in winning the fat loss game! Generally, we recommend taking in about 0.8 to 1.0 grams of protein per pound of body weight. A number of studies have shown numerous benefits to high-protein diets. Since protein takes longer for the body to break down and digest, it promotes a feeling of fullness, making it easier for you to stick to your plan. Protein also is essential in sustaining your lean mass, helping you to recover from workouts, and maintaining healthy skin, nails and organs. Protein also has been reported to improve brain function, lower blood pressure and improve sleep quantity.
It can be very challenging to get in all that protein! Give yourself time to get acclimated to a higher protein diet by setting reasonable goals and increasing them weekly. For instance, if your goal is to eat 150 grams of protein, but you’re currently averaging around 75 grams daily, you might start by trying to get in just 100 grams daily and increase slowly. Divide your protein among your meals, and it will likely seem a bit more manageable. Focus on making sure to hit your protein target daily, and then allocate the remaining calories to carbohydrates and fats.
Most Americans only average about 15 grams of fiber daily, while most people should be taking in anywhere from 20 to 30 grams of fiber daily. Foods high in fiber are more filling and generally take longer to eat than foods low in fiber. They are a great way to “stretch out” your meals, thereby eating a high volume of food without adding many calories. In addition, including fiber in your diet will slow the digestion of carbohydrates and absorption of sugars, keeping blood sugar stable. High fiber foods also promote digestive health and prevent problems like constipation, hemorrhoids, IBS, and other digestive complaints. High fiber diets also promote heart health by moving fats and bile salts out of the body, lowering cholesterol in the process.
Tip: Keep an eye out for snacks like Quest Bars which can provide 20g of protein, and 17g of fiber per serving. They can be helpful to reach your goals in a pinch, or if you’re newer to tracking these macros, but be sure to try getting as much protein and fiber from whole food sources as possible.
4. Heavy Resistance Training
Heavy resistance training should be a key component of any fitness program when the goal is fat loss. Heavy resistance training has a number of metabolic benefits that will pay off in the fat loss department. Unlike cardio, the metabolic benefits of this type of training last for 24-48 hours after completing your workout as your body must work harder to rebuild its oxygen stores. This effect, commonly referred to as the afterburn effect or EPOC (post-exercise oxygen consumption) has a number of metabolic and athletic benefits that will improve your body composition as well as your gym performance! If you don’t know where to start, there are a number of strength training programs to get you started on your journey to a leaner, stronger, healthier you!
If your current fitness program does not currently involve heavy resistance training at least 2-3 times a week, it is highly recommended that you start here before adding in cardio or other forms of exercise to accomplish your goals. You will be amazed at the way your body transforms when you consistently hit the weights!
If you feel that you have a good handle on these four elements, there is absolutely nothing wrong with making a small change or two to see how your body responds. We emphasize that it is usually best to change one thing at a time and give your body a chance to respond before changing another variable, however. As you make adaptations to your plan, you will want to make sure you are listening to your body! Pay attention to how you look and feel, how you are performing in the gym and your energy level any time you make a change. Often times, just a very small change can lead to some great results, but if you change too many things at once you will never know what that missing part of the puzzle was!
Photo credit: Apolonia, hin255 of www.freedigitalphotos.net
Contrary to my personal anti-treadmill stance, cardio can absolutely play a role in fat loss. But just like everything else in life, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.
Although our motto here at EM2WL is “cardio for fun, weights to transform,” we DO recognize the value that cardio can add to a goal-specific workout plan (and that fact that some of you REALLY actually…umm…love it). So it’s understandable that cardio lovers in the Fam, striving to heal their metabolisms and finally lose fat tend to panic a bit when they hear anything about doing “too much” cardio!
When it comes to cardio, it seems that people either love it or hate it. Whether you’re a group instructor, runner, or despise cardio, your workouts should work for you, not against you. In order for this to happen, you must understand the purpose behind each type of workout, how it pertains to your goals, and apply it accordingly.
THE PURPOSE OF CARDIO
Cardio is endurance exercise. The more you do, the better your body adapts, and builds up the ability to be able to withstand the same circumstances next time.
This adaptation is great if the goal is to cover a certain distance in increasingly quicker amounts of time (think: training for a marathon), or simply last longer in Zumba class.
As far as general heart-health is concerned, this is usually the goal.
Your new level of efficiency is usually noticeable during workouts when you’re suddenly able to do more cardio than you initially were physically capable of doing just weeks/months before. For example: you may have originally broken a sweat doing ten minutes of cardio before, but now you have to do fifteen minutes to get to the same level.
If you were formally breathless chasing the kids, or climbing a flight of stairs – this type of adaptation is an amazing/healthy feeling. However, when the goal is fat loss, this adaptation means you now have to do more work to achieve the same results you initially were achieving with your cardio-only workouts.
Adaptation = doing the same work for lesser results.
When it comes to adaptation, strength training is no exception. If you lift the same weight day in and out, your body eventually adapts and that weight just won’t cut it. You’ll have to introduce new stimuli to keep getting results, or risk hitting the infamous plateau.
But there’s good news when it comes to weight lifting adaptation: all you have to do to bust past that plateau is to lift heavier weights! The duration of your weight lifting sessions will never have to change (like your cardio has to) so long as you’re increasing your weights. This allows you to still be efficient without putting in extra time. Weight lifting gives you the most bang for your buck.
In other words: endurance exercise improves your endurance, but doesn’t necessarily contribute to fat loss beyond the initial newbie phase.
Lifting improves your strength, endurance, lean body mass (muscle!) and assists in fat loss.
So how do you know that you’ve entered the “adaptation zone?”
In addition to monitoring your performance during the workout, you can turn to your heart rate monitor (HRM) for clues. Using a HRM – or other wearable fitness device that monitors HR (like Fitbit) will allow you to see when your body gets to a point where it becomes more efficient at cardio.
As endurance improves, your HRM will subsequently show that your calorie burn is lessening for common cardio activities. When you notice that you’re burning less cals boing the same amount of work, your body has adapted. At that point you must either increase time, or change up your workout style to continue getting results.
If, for instance, you’re training for a race or are focused on increasing endurance, remember increased efficiency is in fact a good thing. When that calorie adaptation occurs, you’ve just shortened your race time. Increasing the time of the workout is actually the goal in that case.
On the flip side, when it comes to fat loss, inefficiency is key.
WHAT IS “TOO MUCH” FOR YOU?
Doing the same workouts, but burning less cals, would mean that over time you’d be eating too much (even on a diet) – and eventually start GAINING weight.
That is what we’re trying to prevent when we provide warnings about “too much cardio” during your reset or early stages of fat loss. It’s not about removing something that you love, but rather understanding the roles that workout style plays in your fat loss journey.
There is no magic, universal number for how much cardio is too much. By using the tips above, your best answer is to listen to your body and evaluate often to see where your efficiency levels are at and if they’re conducive to the physique goals you’re trying to achieve.
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Can muscle turn into fat (or vice versa)? Technically…no. But it can sometimes look like it. This illusion is precisely why most women spend less than 5% of their weight loss efforts trying to build muscle, and over 95% (spinning their wheels!) trying to tone it. Today, we’re setting the record straight about why this simply isn’t possible and how having outdated beliefs about muscle and fat being interchangeable ends up causing more problems for 40+ women than it provides solutions… (full video below)
Understanding Body Composition
Before we dive into the myth, let’s take a moment to understand the characteristics of muscle and fat. Muscle tissue is composed of protein filaments and is responsible for movement, strength, and endurance. On the other hand, fat tissue serves as an energy storage depot, storing excess calories in the form of triglycerides.
The Distinct Nature of Each
Each cell is distinct in their composition and function. Muscle cells contract to produce force, allowing movement, while fat cells store energy as triglycerides. These two tissues have different structures, purposes, and metabolic activities, making it impossible for muscle to transform into fat or vice versa.
Weight Loss and Changes in Body Composition
During weight loss, it’s common to experience changes in muscle mass and fat stores. However, it’s crucial to understand that these processes are separate and not interconvertible. A calorie deficit can lead to overall weight loss, but if not managed properly, it can result in loss of muscle and potential gain in bodyfat. Proper nutrition, exercise, and a balanced approach to weight loss are key to preserving lean body mass while reducing fat.
Factors Influencing Muscle Loss and Bodyfat Gain
Several factors can contribute to muscle loss and fat gain. Inadequate protein intake, lack of strength training exercises, and prolonged calorie deficits can lead to muscle breakdown. On the other hand, excess calorie intake, reduced physical activity, and an imbalanced diet can contribute to fat gain. By addressing these factors, we can maintain muscle mass and promote a healthier body composition.
Preserving Muscle and Reducing Bodyfat
To preserve lean body mass and reduce bodyfat effectively, it’s important to adopt specific strategies. Engaging in regular strength training exercises helps to maintain and build muscle mass. Consuming an adequate amount of protein is crucial for muscle growth and repair. It’s also essential to create a moderate calorie deficit that supports fat loss while minimizing muscle loss. Finding a sustainable approach to nutrition and exercise is key to achieving long-term success.
Conclusion: Muscle cannot turn into fat, and fat cannot turn into muscle. They are distinct tissues with different structures and functions. By debunking this myth, we aim to empower individuals to make informed decisions about their fat loss journey. Remember, preserving muscle mass, reducing bodyfat, and achieving a balanced body composition require a combination of proper nutrition, regular exercise, and a sustainable approach.
When it comes to weight loss, it’s important to remember that losing weight doesn’t always mean losing fat. In fact, if you’re not careful, you may end up losing muscle instead. Losing muscle mass can slow down your metabolism and make it more difficult to maintain your weight loss over time. In this post, we’ll explore five signs that you may be losing muscle instead of fat, and provide tips to help you preserve muscle mass and achieve your fitness goals.
#1 You’re Losing Weight Too Quickly
Losing weight too quickly can be a sign that you’re losing muscle mass. When you lose weight too quickly, your body may start breaking down muscle tissue for energy, which can slow down your metabolism and make it more difficult to maintain your weight loss over time. Aim to lose no more than one to two pounds per week to ensure that you’re losing fat, not muscle.
Key Takeaway: While losing weight quickly may seem like a good thing, it could be a sign that you’re losing muscle instead of fat. Slow and steady wins the race when it comes to weight loss!
#2 You’re Not Engaging in Strength Training
If you’re not engaging in strength training exercises, you may be losing muscle mass. Strength training exercises help to build and preserve muscle mass, so it’s important to incorporate them into your workout routine. Aim to strength train at least two to three times per week to help preserve muscle mass and maintain strength.
Key Takeaway: If you’re not strength training, you may be missing out on an important component of weight loss. Incorporating strength training exercises into your routine can help preserve muscle mass and maintain strength.
#3 Your Diet is Too Restrictive
If you’re following a very restrictive diet, you may be losing muscle mass. Restrictive diets can be low in calories and protein, which are both important for preserving muscle mass. It’s important to consume enough protein and calories to support muscle growth and repair.
Key Takeaway: While following a restrictive diet may seem like a good way to lose weight quickly, it could be causing you to lose muscle mass instead of fat. Don’t forget to consume enough protein and calories to support muscle growth and repair.
#4 You’re Feeling Weaker
If you’re feeling weaker than usual, it may be a sign that you’re losing muscle mass. Muscle mass is directly tied to strength, so if you’re losing muscle mass, you may also be losing strength. This is usually amplified with #2 and #3 are out of whack. Yet another reason why it’s so important to keep calories as high as possible and continue to strength train even when dieting.
Key Takeaway: Feeling weaker than usual could be a sign that you’re losing muscle mass. Don’t let your strength suffer – make sure you’re eating enough calories to sustain the level of activity that you are engaging in while incorporating a periodized strength training routine to help preserve muscle mass and maintain strength.
#5 Your Body Composition Isn’t Changing
Finally, if your body composition isn’t changing, it could be a sign that you’re losing muscle mass. While you may be losing weight overall, you may not be losing fat in the right places. Losing muscle mass can cause your body to lose shape and become less toned.
Key Takeaway: If you’re not seeing changes in your body composition, it could be a sign that you’re losing muscle mass. Don’t let your hard work go to waste – make sure you’re preserving muscle mass and losing fat in the right places.
If you’re trying to lose weight, it’s important to make sure you’re losing fat, not muscle. By paying attention to these five signs and incorporating strength training exercises into your routine, you can help preserve muscle mass and achieve your weight loss goals in a healthy and sustainable way.