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Secrets to Staying Slim Past 40

By Brierley Wright, M.S., R.D., January/February 2008

How to outsmart age-related weight gain.


READER'S COMMENT:
"It would have been helpful to find out if these people were of slim/normal weights or overweight that they used for this, and what the average height/weight was. I'm petite, in my 40s and of normal weight in terms of BMI charts. I use...

As for that age-related decrease in metabolism, it’s probably most marked in one’s sixties and beyond. “We found—and so have other studies—that there is a decrease in muscle in your sixties, particularly in women,” says Tooze. Since muscle is a calorie-burning powerhouse, muscle loss equals fewer calories burned. In this study, daily caloric burn of women and men in their early fifties was 4 and 8 percent higher, respectively, than that of people in their late sixties. (Men in their sixties still burned about 2,700 calories; women, 2,200.)

Bottom line: While the aging metabolism situation isn’t as bleak as you might assume, you do need to be more vigilant to maintain your weight as you age. “You will lose muscle as you grow older, but with strengthening exercises you can preserve a lot of it,” says EatingWell advisor Miriam Nelson, Ph.D., director of Tufts University’s John Hancock Center for Physical Activity and Nutrition. Assess how accurate you are in estimating the calories you consume by gauging changes in your weight. “If you’re weight-stable, go with what you’re doing,” says Nelson.

If you’re gaining, start making changes. The EatingWell Diet, a 28-day menu plan and self-tracking program, helps you lose weight by balancing calories in with calories out. For tips from the book and worksheets to track your eating and activity, go to eatingwell.com/diet.



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