Why has my Weight-loss Stalled?
This is a common concern for post-menopausal women. There are many areas that can be addressed when it comes to stagnant weight-loss or an increase in body-fat accumulation.
1. While this may seem counter-intuitive, you need to EAT to LOSE. Yes, that's right. When you consistently under-consume food for your activity level, your body will resist weight-loss. Essentially, the body is going into starvation mode where it CONSERVES body fat. While this mechanism may have been helpful during our hunter-gatherer days, it is less helpful now. In general, you want to make sure you are consuming enough calories to meet the demands of your body. This is different for everyone. It might be helpful for you to look up your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) estimate to get a ball-park of where your target calories should be. It's important to note, that exercise increases the total energy requirements and this must be added to the equation. Once you have a ball-park idea, you can review your daily food journal to see how you measure up. You may find that you need to consume more each day. (Side note: I am not a big fan of tracking calories; however, I do think that having a range is beneficial for general knowledge and when addressing weight changes.)
2. Women become more sensitive to carbohydrates as we age. This DOES NOT MEAN that you need to be low-carb. What it DOES mean is that your body's response to high-glycemic foods like sweets, breads, pasta can become impaired. Insulin may creep up (this is a storage hormone) and can result in changes in your ability to manage consistent blood sugar levels. How do you work around this? You can do so by favoring lower glycemic carbohydrates in your diet like leafy greens, broccoli, colorful lettuces & cabbages, sweet potatoes, squash, brown rice, quinoa, etc. These foods are all packed with nutrients including b-vitamins, vitamin k, beta-carotene & other carotenoids, and fiber among others. Their complex structure actually requires more time to digest and result in a more gradual shift in blood sugar.
3. Lift heavy weights a minimum of 3x's per week. This is going to help you build lean body mass (which increases your resting metabolic rate i.e. let's you burn more at rest), strengthen your bones, promote strength through motion, and can increase balance. What does heavy look like? You want to be lifting in rep ranges of 8-12 with a weight that makes it challenging to finish your last 2-3 reps while maintaining good form. Many women load their workouts with HIIT training and cardio. Neither are bad options; however, they do not provide the optimal stimulus needed for hypertrophy (building muscle). Therefore, I often recommend that individuals lift weights 3 x's per week, HIIT 1-2 x's per week, and have an active recovery day (light walking, hiking, yoga). Make sure that you build in at least 1 rest day into your week as well.
The above mentioned tactics are where I would recommend women start if they are experiencing stagnant weight-loss or an accumulation of body fat. It may be necessary to use more specific nutrition and fitness guidelines for different individuals and health conditions. Please don't hesitate to reach out with questions.
xxx - katie