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Myths of Weight Loss for Women Over 40, Part 1

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Learn why what worked in your 20s and 30s isn’t working anymore

For many women, what worked in our 20s and 30s doesn’t work for our bodies as we approach menopause, and it can be frustrating to do everything “right” and not lose weight.

Myth: Everyone can lose weight on a low carb/high protein diet

When we eat carbohydrates, we experience a rise in glucose in the body, along with a rise in insulin. Insulin is a hormone that takes glucose to the cells to be burned as fuel, or to fat cells for storage.

In the short term, if we eat a low carb diet, we reduce the carbohydrates available to the bloodstream and reduce insulin production. This will create insulin sensitivity and “turn on” the metabolism, meaning our body will take the glucose from the carbs we eat to the cells to be burned as fuel.

But the other side of the low carb/high protein diet also comes into play. Our bodies can only metabolize about 21-30 grams of protein at once. If we eat more than that, the liver converts the protein to glucose and stores it as fat in a process called gluconeogenesis.

If a woman consumes a low carb/high protein diet for a long time, it can stimulate the conversation of proteins into glucose to be stored as fat. As we near menopause, the activity of gluconeogenesis is amplified, so what worked for us in our 20s and 30s may have set us up for storing more fat as we get older.

Myth: All women will lose weight from high intensity interval training (HIIT)

Most people will see results of HIIT in the short term. However, as we hit age 40, we experience hormonal shifts that create metabolic changes in our bodies. Overdoing HIIT, either by doing too many intervals or doing them for too long, can cause the body to become catabolic and age more quickly.

Every woman’s genetics are different: some of us are designed to work well with high intensity, others with lower intensity workouts. If you are exercising at a level of intensity that your body can’t cope with, you may be driving a stress response that tears down muscle tissue and makes it impossible to burn fat. It’s important to work out at the right intensity for your body NOW, not what worked for you 10, 20 or 30 years ago.

Myth: All you need to do is count calories

This myth is incorrect, as it assumes that bodies are nothing more than bank accounts, looking at calories in and calories out to achieve the bottom line. Unfortunately, counting calories ignores the fact that our hormones control how much of what we eat gets used as fuel.

Macros refer to the macronutrients we consume: fat, carbohydrates and proteins. As we’ve already discussed, both carbohydrates and too much protein can raise insulin levels and promote the storage of fat in the body. In addition, there are many other hormones that affect your metabolism and how your body converts food to fuel. So counting calories alone will not help you lose weight.

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