The Problem- We tend to get fat as we get old. Yes, the old metabolism does slow a little bit, as we get older. But not much. So we boomers need to look for a better excuse on why we get fat (and seem to stay that way). Mostly we just exercise less and eat more. That’s all. Although we tend to get problems such as diabetes as we get older that can influence weight loss or gain the main problem is what we take in exceeds what we put out.
The Solution- You have heard of all the dietary heroes and villains. There are evil carbs, unholy fats and hero proteins. It is as if by some medieval alchemy of magic food combinations we are promised to lose weight. You can sell your soul to whatever dietary religion you want. The bottom line is too much of anything is bad. We hear that water is good. People have taken hydration to such an extreme that they are keeling over from hyponatremia (low salt in the blood) which can cause fatal heart rhythms. A high protein diet is good but can precipitate renal failure in susceptible people. Yes if you eat enough carbs, you can spike your blood sugar. Ah, it is so boring but moderation really is the key to everything.
OK here is the plan- Let us say you weight is stable (not bouncing up or down). One pound of fat costs about 3500 calories. So if we are going to lose one to two pounds of fat a week we need to decrease our intake or increase our output by at least 3500 calories a week. Divide that by seven gives us about 500 calories a day. Since I like to eat, I only want to cut my food back by 250 calories a day. That means I will have to increase my exercise output by the same amount.
So practically it comes down to this. Give up 250 calories a day (about two beers or two glasses of wine a day) and burn 250 more calories a day (45-minute leisurely walk, 30-minute hike, 30-minute slow jog). You will lose weight.
There is one catch- The more weight you lose will require an increased exercise output or decreased calorie intake to continue weight loss. The reason is that your BMR (Basal metabolic rate) or how many calories you burn a day is dependent upon body weight. For example, a 170-pound man has a BMR of 2040 calories a day (male weight in pounds x 12, female weight in pounds x 11). If he loses 15 pounds, that requirement drops to 1860 calories a day. So he would have to eat 180 calories a day less to maintain his body weight. But hey, you will feel so much better that you will be ready to hit the trail and burn up some extra calories.
As I have said, there are many nutritional faiths out there. Let me just offer a few of my own divine inspirations for my five minute diet plan.
Fats- Bad right? Well not necessarily. The big issue with fats is that they pack a big caloric punch for such a little bite. Per gram fats have the most calories of any food. But our body and especially our brain needs fats. Some fats such as Omega 3 are probably down right good for you. So to lose weight you want fat but not too much and the right kind. Try to shoot for less than five grams per serving. Good fats come from cold-water fish such as tuna and salmon as well as olive oil.
Protein- Protein is good especially if you are working out. The problem is it often comes wrapped in skin and fat, which really kicks up the calories. Try to get high quality protein from lean sources such as skinless chicken breast, egg whites, fish, tofu and beans. Eat about 5 oz a meal (size of a pack of cigarettes).
Carbs- enough already with the carb mania. You have to have them. If you do any aerobic exercise at all, you have to have carbohydrates to replenish the glycogen stores in your muscles. But Carbs have calories too and it is really easy to pack them in. Try to get your carbs in unprocessed form such as brown rice, bulgur, and cracked wheat, which are absorbed more slowly and have more fiber. Eat about as much starch or maybe a little more than you do protein at each meal
Dairy- Dairy is a good source of protein. It also usually has lots of fats (and calories). Use low or no fat dairy products.
Liquid Calories- liquid calories in the form of alcoholic or soft drinks can really sock it to you. Most alcoholic and non-diet soft drinks have about 150 calories a serving. Yeah it adds up fast.
Veggies- Countless generations of Moms know you should eat your veggies. Load up on leafy greens, broccoli, peppers, carrots, tomatoes and basically what ever else you want. Look out for high fat salad dressings but otherwise knock yourself out.
Fried Foods- Not allowed. Enough said.