Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Embrace Your Range-Over 40 Female Fitness & Nutrition

I attended the 2011 American College of Sports Medicine Health & Fitness Summit this spring in Anaheim.  I was fortunate to hear Dr. Liz Applegate, Director of Sports Nutrition at UC Davis present again on nutrition. She is one of the top sport nutritionist in the country. She had some great updates specifically for women 40+ that I'd like to pass along. She will likely be sharing some more formalized reports on her study with this age group, but this is a nice preview for now. I have followed her work for years. She is an excellent reference--heck of an athlete too! The following is based on a pilot group she worked with in Davis, CA plus decades of experience working with all categories of women.

General Observations & Recommendations: Women are very social and respond better to weight loss when they have a social support structure whether it be routine personal group meetings, blogs, e-mails, or other modes of contact and support. In Western culture, women are dissatistified with body shape as they age. Her position is for the 40+ woman to "embrace her range" meaning that there is not "one" ideal body weight for every woman of a specific height and that "health" should be the focus rather than weight alone. There are natural and genetic shifts with fat distribution as a woman ages--rather than fight--embrace and work to age healthfully. 

Controlling Abdominal Fat: These are researched-based recommendations for controlling fat specifically in the abdominal areas of women over forty.

Exercise & Abdominal Fat: Fat cells have been shown to shrink with about 60 minutes of regular exercise per day. An important exercise message repeated throughout the conference was the benefit of consistency over time when it comes to not only weight management, but also health in general. There are certain types of exercise that have more fat burning effects than others, but I will be getting more into those with future posts as Dr. Applegate's presentation focused more on the nutritional management of abdominal fat. More and more research is pointing towards the benefits of strength training for weight management and optimizing metabolism. Ideally if a woman wants to control abdominal fat after forty efficiently with exercise as one option, she needs to be getting 2-3x strength sessions per week (higher rep and lighter weight fine for beginners), higher heart rate training sessions, and doing about 60-90 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise per day. *There are some interval protocols that can cut down the time to under 60 minutes total workout time, so look for future posts on these updates.

Eating Plan for Controlling Abdominal Fat: In addition to the main four points below, caution was given about alcohol consumption in this age group which can exceed 2-3 servings per day. Alcohol creates specific abdominal fat gain issues as it promotes fat production especially around the waist...just something you should be aware of regarding alcohol.
  1. Protein @ Every Meal: (70-90 gm/day) To optimize weight loss, 20-25% of your calories per day should be from protein. Think about 25% of your plate at every meal--or 15 minutes of a clock.
  2. Eat Whole Grains ALWAYS! At least 3 servings per day. Whole grains are more than just whole wheat! There are many very healthy alternative grains like quinoa, freekeh, amaranth, black rice, and more.
  3. Eat 3 Cups Veggies & 3 Pieces of Fruit DAILY: Fruit consumption (normal not excessive) has been shown to decrease weight gain over time. Beans were really underscored as a very healthy fruit that women should be eating to reduce abdominal fat. Get at least 3 different colors per day of fruit and veggies.
  4. Daily Dairy + Probiotics: Yogurt has been shown to block some calorie absorption. There are some healthier yogurt options like Greek and Kefir. 1 out of 2 women will suffer from osteo/bone problems, and women can lose 2-6" of height over 30 years!
So these were the basic recommendations for women 40+ at this specific presentation. Get some social support for your weight management and exercise. Be careful of excessive alcohol because it directly contributes to belly fat. Pump up your exercise--be regular over time. Be sure to strength train. Get your heart rates up too! Get enough protein, whole grains, fruits/veggies and take care of bone health with dairy and probiotics...and don't forget to "Embrace Your Range" too!

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