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Avoiding a midlife kilo creep


According to Sydney women’s personal trainer, Susie Miller, middle-age spread is an option you don’t have to take.

“In middle age a couple of things happen: the muscle to fat ratio shifts so there is a higher ratio of fat to lean muscle which then results in postural issues causing that stooped look, but you can definitely counteract this,” Ms Miller said.

“You can fight that menopausal muscle loss with strength training which will increase the muscle fibres and the utility of the muscles so they are stronger and more effective. And  if you are working your muscles, especially in the upper back, then you are working on keeping an open posture which not only makes you look younger but research shows good posture can boost mood and self-esteem.”

Acknowledging that some women are loathe to actively build muscle due to a misguided concern that they will turn into a female body builder, Ms Miller explained that women don’t produce enough of the male hormone testosterone which means developing an Incredible Hulk physique is highly unlikely.

“Strength-training can sculpt your body but it’s unlikely to add bulk,” she said.  â€œThe typical rear view of a 50-plus woman is a flat butt and a fat waist, and we know that abdominal fat is dangerous in terms of heart health so what we need to do is to engage all the muscles through strength training which will ultimately help you burn calories. Working on the gluteal muscles will give you a better looking behind and working on abdominal muscles can re-shape waist and the whole look of your body.”

Regular exercise isn’t the only key to preventing mid-life kilogram creep. Eating well and cutting portion sizes at this time of life will help keep the weight in check, according to Julie Gilbert, spokesperson for the Dietitians Association of Australia.

‘I think the most important thing that women need to understand as they get older is that they are nowhere near as active as they were before so even though you may be eating really good food, you need to be careful to eat smaller portions. At the end of the day people put on weight not because they are eating carbohydates but because they are eating too many kilojoules so the key is to cut down your portion sizes.’

The calcium needs of women in the 45-plus age range are also a big consideration when trying to keep weight down and maintain health, Ms Gilbert said.  She advises that women look for calcium-fortified, low-fat options and to aim for three servings of calcium a day.

Adopting a healthy eating plan will ensure your nutritional requirements are met within an appropriate energy intake.

Don’t be afraid to seek advise from a dietician or professional if needed.


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