Weight loss: Doctor shares ‘important’ lifestyle changes & ‘food swaps’ for women over 50
GP talks about the impact of the menopause on weight gain
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Dr Clare Morrison from MedExpress has over 25 years experience with the NHS and specisalises in nutrition and obesity. She spoke to Express.co.uk about ways women over 50 can lose weight.
Dr Morrison explained how it is more likely for women over 50 to have health risks, as well as put on weight.
She said: “Many diseases become more common with age, particularly if a woman doesn’t follow a healthy lifestyle.
“These include heart disease, cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis, and joint disorders, to name but a few.
“Women over 50 are more likely to put on weight because of low levels of oestrogen and testosterone and the effects of ageing, leading to loss of muscle, and hence a lower metabolic rate.”
So, how can women going through menopause do to begin to lose weight?
Dr Morrison stressed that middle-aged women “need to pay attention to both diet and physical activity”.
She continued: “It’s important not to eat more calories than are used, and to limit intake of refined carbohydrate, which is sugar and starch.
“Exercise should include both cardio, such as brisk walking, running, sports or swimming, as well as resistance, such as weights, rowing, or push-ups.”
Women can slowly incorporate healthy foods into their diet by “altering the relative proportions of foods you already eat, such as increasing the amount of vegetables, whilst decreasing the starchy component, such as bread, pasta, and rice”, Dr Morrison said.
She added: “Swap some unhealthy snacks such as sweets and crisps, for healthier alternatives such as nuts, seeds, and raw vegetables.
“Swap white bread and sugary cereals for high fibre alternatives, such as oats, muesli, or wholegrains.
“Add more protein, in the form of eggs, fish, chicken, and pulses.
“Replace sandwiches with salads. Add healthy fats such as olive oil, which can be drizzled directly onto foods, used to cook with, or made into salad dressing.
“Also increase intake of vegetables and fruit.”
Dr Morrison went on to recommend a meal plan for those wanting to lose weight, saying: “For breakfast, start with a high-protein food, such as boiled or scrambled eggs, with a small piece of wholemeal toast.
“For lunch, have a salad with lettuce, cold meat, fish, or plant-based protein, chopped apple, and salad dressing, followed by fruit.
“For the evening meal consider a soup or casserole with chicken for example, and plenty of mixed vegetables, and not too much starch.”
As for reducing belly fat, which is common in even the slimmest of people, Dr Morrison recommended reducing the amount of refined carbohydrates in your diet – this is because “belly fat is strongly linked with eating too much refined carbohydrate”.
Exercise is “very important”, according to Dr Morrison, even though “diet has a greater influence in weight”.
The nutrition expert added: “This is because exercise uses up calories, and increases muscle mass, which is metabolically more active than the rest of the body.
“Exercise also builds up fitness, which helps protect against heart disease and stroke.
“The ideal amount of exercise is 30 minutes of brisk walking, on five days a week, or more.”
Dr Morrison also stressed that “the best exercise is one you enjoy, that fits into your schedule, so you are more likely to keep at it”.
“For example walking to work regularly, or playing sports with friends, or a useful activity such as gardening,” she said.
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