Losing weight after 50 is not easy, many people tell you. If you press them, they’ll even tell you that it’s easier to gain weight and harder to lose it after 50 than when you’re younger. Sadly, they’re right. But folks who’ve tried to lose weight after 50 — and failed — didn’t know about the setpoint diet.
The setpoint diet makes losing weight after 50 a breeze. Yes, REALLY. But before we share the amazing, scientifically proven news with you about how the setpoint diet is the only way to lose weight long term, we need to first discuss why traditional diets fail more than 95% of the time. We need to discuss why traditional dieting is difficult at ANY age, and why, despite your best efforts, the weight you lose always comes back.
People try strength training, monitor their body composition, attempt intermittent fasting, track their amount of protein, measure overall health waist circumference, forget their mental health, almost give up on weight management, then hire a personal trainer.
It sounds exhausting!
The Problem Losing Weight with Traditional Diets
Gaining weight after 50 is a common occurrence. If you didn’t have a problem with your weight until after 50, congratulations. Though your newly acquired girth may be frustrating and though it stubbornly hangs on no matter what type of diet or exercise program you’ve tried, you’ll find the answers you need with the setpoint diet. So…don’t believe everything you’ve heard about the futility of staying slim after 50. (More about this shortly.)
But it’s possible — in fact, highly likely — that your weight problem didn’t start after 50. The majority of people today struggle with weight issues. According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 70% of U.S. adults are overweight or obese. (Obesity is a medical condition in which a person’s excess body fat has accumulated to the extent that it impacts their health and significantly increases the risk of health problems.)
So, if you’re like the majority of Americans, you have struggled with your weight your entire adulthood — or even your childhood. What does “struggling with your weight” look like? For most people, it “looks like” dozens of failed fad diets. (Famous fad diets: Grapefruit Diet, Cabbage Soup Diet, SlimFast Diet, The Cookie Diet, Medifast.) It “looks like” Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, Nutrisystem. It “looks like” prescription and non-prescription diet pills, such as Herbalife, Green Coffee Bean Extract, Alli, Hydroxycut.
Ultimately, struggling with your weight “looks like” frustration, depression, shame, weight gain — and yo-yo dieting.
Why Traditional Dieting Fails
What went wrong? Why have you never been able to keep the weight off, no matter how many diets you tried and how hard you worked at shedding those pounds?
Well…the short answer is this:
YOU DID NOTHING WRONG. THOSE DIETS WERE WRONG, NOT YOU!
Most diets have a proven failure rate of about 95.4%. This is why the average dieter in the U.S. makes 3-4 weight loss attempts per year. This is why the estimated 45 million U.S. adults who go on diets each year — every year — have not lost enough weight to impact the spiraling rates of overweight and obesity in America.
Still…these individuals, like you, keep trying different diets, thinking they did something wrong. Each time they start a new diet, they think that this time, they’ll get it right. Sadly, there is no “getting right” something that was created from incorrect information. The most harmful piece of advice that has ever been developed concerning weight loss is that creating a calorie deficit is the most important aspect of losing weight.
The Calorie-Deficit Theory: True or False?
It’s not that the calorie-deficit theory of weight loss is entirely wrong; it is just incomplete. It is true that your body needs a calorie deficit to drop pounds. But it is not true that you have to count those calories. When you count calories, you are treating every calorie the same, which is in agreement with the calorie-deficit theory of weight loss. As long as you stay within a designated number of calories, this theory states, you can eat anything and lose weight.
But modern science shows that all calories are not the same. Calories have different effects on your body and on your metabolism depending upon the foods from which they come.
The Differing Effect of Calories
For instance, eating 300 calories of high-quality protein fills you up and keeps you full for hours. This prevents you from overeating in the moment and reduces the chances you will eat more food in the few hours.
Protein also takes more calories to digest than carbohydrates and fats, meaning that no matter how many total calories you write down for that meal, your net calorie intake is actually lower when you eat more protein. Also, it is almost impossible for your body to store protein as fat, so if you want to avoid weight gain, increasing your intake of protein is an excellent idea.
Compare this to what happens when you eat a 300 calorie piece of cake (refined carbs). Because there is no fiber to slow it down, the cake is digested quickly, turned into glucose, and then dumped into your bloodstream. This causes a huge spike in blood glucose levels.
The pancreas releases insulin to clear the excess glucose from your bloodstream. Normally, insulin takes the glucose to your cells to be used as energy or stored for later use. But due to the huge amount of glucose from the cake, insulin is overwhelmed. It has only a short time to clear glucose from your bloodstream before it builds to a lethal level. So, insulin takes most of it to your fat cells.
You feel an energy surge immediately after eating the cake due to the spike in blood glucose levels. Within about 2 hours after eating that piece of cake, however, your energy levels plummet. You also feel hungry again, so you help yourself to another piece of cake or some other type of refined carb. The cycle continues.
The Fatal Flaw in the Calorie-Deficit Theory of Weight Loss
Do you see how differently your body handles protein from how it handles refined carbohydrates? Do you see why consuming protein is a better choice than consuming refined carbohydrates?
The metabolism, you see, is not like a scale. It is like a thermostat in your home. You set the thermostat for how warm or cool you want the temperature inside your house to be. The thermostat then “tells” the HVAC system the temperature it “thinks” your home should be at based on its monitoring of the temperature outside. The HVAC responds by switching on (or shutting off) at regular intervals to keep the inside temperature of your home within a certain set range.
Similarly, your body responds to how much body fat your internal thermostat (your setpoint weight) “thinks” you should store. To keep you within range of your setpoint weight, the body can stimulate or suppress your appetite or raise or lower your metabolism. It can also adjust the metabolic burn of many internal systems — all to keep you near your setpoint weight.
So, what is setpoint weight and why is it more important than the calorie-deficit theory of weight loss?
Importance of Setpoint Weight
Your brain, digestive system, and hormones all work together through a highly coordinated system to help stabilize your body weight — the same way they automatically stabilize your body temperature and blood pressure.
How do they stabilize your body weight? Well…the body is an amazingly complex biological machine. Your brain, digestive system, and hormones continually communicate with each other through various feedback loops to synchronize the activities that automatically maintain body fat at a specific level. This is your setpoint weight.
Your setpoint weight is an evolutionary system, and if you try to circumvent it through starvation dieting, you’ll be fighting millions of years of metabolic evolution. Though it does require a calorie-deficit to lose weight, if you try to slash calories while eating the same low-calorie foods, the body fights back.
It knows immediately when you’re not eating enough calories, and it sets off a metabolic alarm. The hypothalamus in the brain releases or increases hormones that make you shaky, hungry, and irritable — all in an effort to make you eat more food. It releases hormones that make you tired so that you won’t feel like being too active. This conserves energy. The hypothalamus also slows the metabolism so that you’ll burn fewer calories, and it will send most of the calories you consume to your fat stores. For energy, it will direct your body to burn muscle.
Though you might lose 20-30 pounds on a starvation diet, little of it comes from your fat stores. Plus, starvation dieting itself raises your setpoint weight, which is why you start gaining the weight back as soon as you start eating normally again. But if your body is supposed to regulate your weight around your setpoint weight, how did your setpoint weight become elevated in the first place? Good question!
Factors that Determine Setpoint Weight
There are three factors that determine setpoint weight: the brain, the gut, and the hormones. We’ll discuss each of them.
The hypothalamus in the brain is in charge of balancing calories in with calories out so that ideally you’ll never become too fat or too thin. It is regulated largely by the hormones leptin and insulin, which “tells” it how much fat you have and how much fat you need.
If they “tell” the hypothalamus that your fat stores are getting low, the hypothalamus increases levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin to try to get you to eat more food. It also releases or tweaks levels of other hormones to conserve your fat stores, slow your metabolism, and anything else that is needed to slow and reverse your weight loss. If they “tell” the hypothalamus your fat stores are too high, just the opposite occurs — the hypothalamus represses levels of ghrelin so you don’t eat as much as you normally do, and it releases hormones that make you fidgety so you’ll unconsciously burn off excess calories.
The hypothalamus and hormones perfectly regulate your weight, keeping you within 10-15 pounds of your setpoint weight. It always works — unless the hypothalamus becomes inflamed. When this happens, the hypothalamus can no longer receive or correctly interpret signals sent by leptin and insulin. It doesn’t know how much fat you have or need, so it decides to give you more fat to ensure your survival. (Having enough body fat is key to survival.)
Your body is composed of an estimated 100 trillion cells, which is an indication of how complex the body is. But did you know 90 trillion of these cells are bacteria, most of which live in your gastrointestinal tract? It’s true.
Collectively known as gut microbiota, they were once thought to just facilitate digestion. My, how times have changed. Research shows gut bacteria is responsible for much, much more. Bacteria living in your gut and digestive tract exert a major influence on your setpoint weight. One of the biggest ways they affect setpoint weight is that they can determine how many calories you actually digest from the foods you eat.
In humans, two types of bacteria dominate the gut: Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes. Research shows obese individuals tend to have more Firmicutes in their intestines, and normal weight people tend to have more Bacteroidetes. Researchers believe the extra Firmicutes bacteria lead to highly efficient metabolization of food. Because these bacteria are so good at breaking down food, more of the calories you consume are digested rather than excreted as waste. If unused, these calories turn into fat.
Gut microbiota help extract calories from the food you eat, and they store these calories for later use as body fat. Some of these microbes can even help cause or heal neurological inflammation, a major factor in an elevated setpoint weight.
Having a proper balance of “good” and “bad” gut bacteria is necessary for weight regulation. An imbalance of these bacteria, a condition called “gut dysbiosis,” elevates setpoint weight.
Produced by the endocrine glands, hormones are chemical messengers that travel through the bloodstream, ordering your cells to take certain actions. They control most major bodily functions. With respect to your weight, they control your hunger, your metabolism, the rate at which your body burns fat, and so much more.
Here are just a few of the hormones that regulate your weight:
- Leptin: Produced by fat cells, this hormone signals your brain when it has had enough food.
- Ghrelin: Produced by cells in the stomach and pancreas, this hormone makes you feel hungry.
- Insulin: Produced by the pancreas, this hormone regulates the amount of fat in storage.
- Cortisol: Produced by the endocrine glands, this hormone causes belly fat accumulation when levels are chronically high.
These and other hormones work together to keep your weight in balance…unless they are clogged. Most people who have trouble losing weight and keeping it off suffer from a hormonal clog. When the hormones are clogged, they can no longer send or receive proper messages about your level of body fat. This results in an elevated setpoint weight.
The Hormonal Clog and Setpoint Weight
An easy way to understand how this hormonal clog elevates your setpoint weight is to think about your body as functioning like a sink. When a sink is unclogged, you don’t have to worry about pouring water into it. Any water you pour in automatically drains out. Even if the water level temporarily rises, the sink quickly takes care of it. You can say, then, that this sink is balancing water in and water out at a low level. It has a low setpoint.
When your hormones are unlogged, they work the same way, doing their best to automatically prevent excess body fat from accumulating. When you eat more calories, you’ll burn more calories. And when you eat less calories, you’ll burn less calories. Your hormones are balancing your calories in and calorie out at a low level. Your body has a low setpoint weight.
The only reason water build up in sinks and fat builds up in bodies is because they have become clogged by low-quality things being put into them. In a sink, those low-quality things might be hair. In a body, those low-quality things are heavily processed foods, sugar, and starchy carbs.
The best way to deal with a clog — in sinks or in bodies — is to remove the clog. Sinks and bodies will then naturally balance water or fat in and out at a low level. So, do you want to guess the best way — the only way — to lose weight permanently regardless of your age? That’s right. Lower your setpoint weight with the setpoint diet.
The Setpoint Diet Solution: More Than an Eating Plan
The foods on the setpoint diet plan are scientifically proven to fill you up fast and keep you full longer, which keeps you from overeating. They also heal your hormones so that they can send correct signals to the hypothalamus, trigger fat-burning hormones, and heal neurological inflammation.
Though the eating plan is a major aspect of the setpoint diet, it is not the only important feature. Rather, the setpoint diet strives to improve the quality of all aspects of your life, particularly the ones that have the biggest impact on setpoint weight, such as diet, stress, and sleep deprivation.
The Problem with Losing Weight After 5 decades
It is absolutely true that many changes happen to the body after 50, and many of these changes do impact weight. Here are 4 common changes that happen to your body after 50, and some easy setpoint diet solutions.
1. Slower Metabolism
It is a fact that the metabolism changes over time, slowing down as we age. There are two main reasons for this: hormonal changes and age-related muscle loss (sarcopenia).
Though you may not think about it, you are burning calories just sitting around the house. You burn calories through respiration, heartbeat, digestion, cell repair, and other processes. The amount of calories you burn while at rest is called your basal metabolic rate (BMR). The BMR is different for everyone one and is calculated based on weight, height, age, and gender. It is the bare minimum number of calories your body needs to survive if you were completely bedridden.
Though the number of calories you burn each day can vary considerably depending upon your activity level, the BMR stays fairly consistent — and it is regulated by hormones. Age does cause hormonal changes which in turn affects the BMR. This is one of the main reasons people tend to gain weight as they get older.
Those over 50 tend to experience the weight-related effects of these hormonal shifts more than the younger crowd, especially women in menopause.
A key hormone that contributes to weight gain in women in their 50s is estrogen. As estrogen levels fall in menopause, it can cause insulin resistance leading to weight gain. Declining estrogen levels also cause an accumulation of dangerous belly fat. Progesterone and testosterone are two other hormones that can become dysregulated with age, and both of them affect fat storage.
Age-Related Muscle Loss
Age-related muscle loss (sarcopenia) is one of the most common causes of functional decline in older adults, and it often leads to a loss of independence. Though there may be many complex causes of sarcopenia, the mechanism is one in which muscle breaks down faster than it can be rebuilt.
You see, your muscles are involved in a constant process of breakdown (catabolism) and rebuilding (anabolism). Up to 2% of your total muscle mass is broken down and rebuilt each day. When you’re in your 20s, the rebuilding process is faster than the breakdown process. This is why peak muscle mass occurs between the ages of 20 to 30.
After the age of 30, the breakdown process typically exceeds the rebuilding process, resulting in a loss of muscle mass — and this is true even if you are physically active. However, physically inactive people are at the biggest risk of age-related muscle loss. Research shows physically inactive people can lose 3% to 5% muscle mass each decade after the age of 30.
A loss of muscle inevitably affects metabolism. Because muscle is highly metabolically active, it takes more calories to maintain itself. Less muscle mass lowers your BMR, meaning your body burns fewer calories while at rest.
The Setpoint Diet Solution for a Slowed Metabolism
Hormonal Changes: Foods on the setpoint diet have been scientifically proven to heal the hormones, regulating them so that they can keep the metabolism running at top-notch speed.
Age-Related Muscle Loss: The setpoint diet includes plenty of high-quality protein. Research shows consuming at least 30 grams of protein at a meal triggers muscle protein synthesis, helping to rebuild your muscle. This can help keep age-related muscle loss at bay. Eating plenty of protein, especially when combined with the setpoint diet’s eccentric exercise, is double insurance against muscle loss. (By the way…you burn more calories digesting protein than any other macronutrients, which means that increasing your intake of protein also increases your metabolism!)
2. Sedentary Lifestyle
The lack of regular physical activity is an important factor in the obesity epidemic, regardless of one’s age. Research shows that in 1960, a year in which obesity was rare, 50% of the jobs in the U.S. workforce required moderate activity. Today, just 20% of jobs require moderate activity — and the remaining 80% aren’t heavy/intense activity jobs, either. Rather, researchers found that 80% of jobs in the U.S. workforce are either sedentary, or they require only light activity.
Studies show both regular exercise and increased muscle mass increases insulin sensitivity. This reduces your risk for weight gain, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. So, being physically active is very important in keeping your weight in check.
The fact that many people have — or still have — sedentary or light activity jobs after 50, combined with age-related hormonal changes and muscle loss, is still another reason why many people gain weight during this time.
The Setpoint Diet Solution for a Sedentary Lifestyle
While you’re eating the delicious, setpoint-lowering, SANE foods on the setpoint diet, we encourage you to become more physically active. And incorporating physical activity into your busy lifestyle is easier than you may think it is. There is no need to kill yourself with high-impact aerobic exercise. Start out with a moderate walking program. Walk for a few minutes at first, and then gradually extend walking time. You can also enjoy leisurely biking, hiking, swimming, yoga, TaiChi.
3. Higher Stress Levels
When you were younger, you may have thought your life would calm down after 50, but that is seldom the case. In fact, those in their 50s are often highly stressed. The majority of people in their 50s are still in the workforce, so they struggle with work and financial responsibilities. They also often have aged parents, adult children, and/or grandchildren that place added demands on their time.
The resulting stress causes a release of the stress hormone cortisol that triggers a release of insulin. Both of these contribute to weight gain. Cortisol has even been shown to cause an accumulation of dangerous visceral belly fat.
The Setpoint Diet Solution for Higher Stress Levels
To keep stress levels in check and prevent weight gain after 50, it is important that you take time to de-stress every day. Find a few relaxing activities that you enjoy doing, and do at least one of them every day. Some great de-stressing activities are meditation, breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, leisurely walking, golfing.
4. Sleep Deprivation
Probably because of stress, it is often difficult after 50 to get the amount of quality sleep your body needs. Sleep is essential to your health because your body repairs and rejuvenates itself during sleep. Studies also indicate sleep deprivation eventually slows metabolism and causes insulin resistance, so getting an adequate amount of uninterrupted sleep is essential for your weight loss or weight maintenance goals.
The Setpoint Diet Solution for Sleep Deprivation
Try to get 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. You can do this by going to bed at the same time each night and arising at the same time each morning, turning your devices off an hour before bedtime (the blue light emitted from the screen interferes with the production of melatonin), and turn down the heat in your bedroom as studies show people sleep best in a cooler environment.
Next Step: Learn How with SANE
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