Are you finding as you get a little older that you are doing all the things that have always worked for you in the past but you can’t lost weight? In fact it even seems to be creeping on around the middle?
There are a few obstacles that can affect you as you get older that make it harder to lose weight. One of the biggest roadblocks is nutrient deficiency and there are three areas that are critical;
- Key minerals for metabolism like chromium and iodine.
- Protein in adequate quantities.
- Kilojoules at an appropriate level.
Chromium is a key mineral for blood sugar balance and low levels are often associated with cravings for sugar and carbohydrates (to give you the quick sugar fix). While its found in a range of foods, such as meat, grains, green beans and fruits, levels can be impacted by a diet high in refined foods and simple sugars.
Iodine is an important nutrient for glands and in particular the thyroid gland, which controls growth and metabolism. There aren’t a wide range of food options with iodine, which may explain why deficiency is fairly common. Good food sources include seafood, seaweed, organic eggs and celtic sea salt. Some products such as salt can be fortified with iodine.
A deficiency of iodine is harder to detect as quite often symptoms are sub-clinical, however one of the most common symptoms is weight gain. In more significant deficiency you see signs of fatigue, hair loss and chilliness. Another symptom that often appears for women is fibrocystic or “lumpy” breasts.
A combination of chromium and iodine deficiency results in a significant block for metabolism and makes it very difficult to lose weight.
Inadequate amounts of protein in the diet can also make it hard to lose weight. Many women often find they tend to crave carbohydrates as they provide quick and easy energy. Protein has the same kilijoules per gram but also provides balanced blood sugar for a longer period. Including an adequate amount of protein at each meal keeps your blood sugar balanced and reduces cravings. What is an adequate amount of protein? Generally for weight maintence you are looking at 0.8g per kilo and for weight loss between 1-1.2g per kilo.
Translated that means for a women who is 80kg she needs to be eating 64g of protein a day to maintain weight and between 80-96g to lose weight. You also need to be aware that typically the protein content of animal meats is usually about 20-25% whereas for vegetarian proteins its typically 10-15%. A typical day could include 2 eggs (12g of protein), a small can of tuna (24g) and a chicken breast fillet (50g).
Under eating is also a significant problem for many people. Years of yoyo dieting and keeping kilijoules low can reduce your metabolism and make it difficult to lose weight. An historical study in Minnesota with prisoners looked at the impacts of prolonged starvation with calories reduced so that participants lost 25% of body weight. The study showed a reduction in the bodies metabolism, as well as an increase in depression and emotional distress.
Eating inadequate kilijoules can cause your metabolism to slow down, meaning you won’t burn as much fat off when you engage in physical activity. Your body requires energy when you walk, work out, think, breathe, just about everything!When you deprive your body of the fuel it needs to burn calories, it will begin to store food and enter a sort of “survival mode.” So even when you exercise, your body will protect the fat that it has stored, and you may not be able to lose the weight you want to lose.
To recover from long periods of yoyo dieting you may need to work on increasing your metabolism as a priority. Gently increasing exercise plus using hormetic stressors is a useful way to approach the problem. Heat and cold, stressors which boost energy and slow ageing has a good summary of some approaches which may be helpful.
Christine Pope is a naturopath and nutritionist based at Elemental Health, St Ives. You can make appointments online or by calling on (02) 8084 0081. Christine is also the author of the Ageing Outrageously program and there is more information on the website here.