Why do Women Over-50 Struggle to Lose Fat?
If you answered “hormones not calories” . . . You would be correct!
Hormones rule fat burning & storage. In fact, if hormones are not balanced you can store fat even with a calorie deficit.
Working with hormones requires:
- A focus on food type and timing of consumption.
- Matching symptoms and signs of imbalance with the hormone responsible.
What’s the connection between stress, sleep, and fat weight?
I know you’ve heard about cortisol before and how it can get in the way of results. As well as some fat storage in the belly.
Things to look for:
- Not sleeping causes cortisol to go up and impacts weight loss.
- Afternoon cravings caused by elevated cortisol, hormone ghrelin, and insulin released in response to satisfying cravings.
- Cortisol brings on feelings of being rushed or worried.
- Signs and sources of stress:
- eating when not hungry?
- stressful day at work?
- restless night?
- change in workout intensity?
Our Strategy when “eating healthy and exercising are not working” . . . back to the basics:
- food journal
- focus on quality
- focus on timing
Put them down and “back away from the calories”.
- Increase activities that you enjoy.
- Sleep more. (Seeing a pattern?)
- Make a plan to deal with stress.
- Look for food intolerances and sensitivities i.e. grains, dairy etc.
- Avoid the “quick fix” i.e. dieting, starvation, deprivation.
- Visual filling half plate with vegetables
- Limiting fruits that are higher in sugar.
- Increase Omega-3 fats to reduce inflammation.
Want to go running, kick boxing, high intensity training, or workout out 2-3 times a day for 3-4 hours? That’s normal. But ignore those impulses and switch to lower intensity exercise.
Yes, you heard me correctly.
✔ Try yoga burn fewer calories, reduce fatigue, and cortisol.
✖ Avoid the treadmill or boot camp.
out of balance =
Physically and emotionally stressed, beyond frustrated – need:
- less exercise (temporarily – don’t freak out).
- balance hormones before more exercise.
- portion control if eating processed and packaged food.
Trainers and doctors tell you:
- “You’re getting older.”
- “It will get better after menopause.”
- “What do you expect at your age?”
- “Crazy” facts about brain fog, belly fat, and hot flashes.
Something to remember: Hormone Imbalance is Misunderstood!
What else you say? Well according to PN common prescription medications can hurt your fitness, & body fat progress, gaining muscle, and/or improving athletic performance.
Medications are powerful things. They can actually change your
body’s response to a nutrition and exercise program.
- living longer and generally better.
- no longer killed or debilitated by common, curable diseases or nutritional deficiencies.
- alleviate many every day complaints, such as aches and pains, upset stomach, or allergies.
- take a lot of medications to do this.
Because women take more hormones (especially for birth control)
and take medication for autoimmune diseases, migraines, anxiety, and depression, 10 or more medications are some times taken simultaneously.
Why does medication use matter?
Well as stated, they might be affecting or hampering your progress.
PN researched medications its clients took and the potential side effects produced.
First, 3 important cautions that Precision Nutrition cites:
“1. We do NOT recommend that you simply quit taking any
suspect medications. Always discuss any changes in medication
with your doctor and/or pharmacist.”
“2. We’re NOT saying ‘medications always bad, pharma-free
living always good’. We know that for many folks, medications can mean the difference between a good — or functional — day and a horrible day. If you’re on medications, you probably have some well-founded concerns about your health. We’re simply offering some information that you may not have considered in making your decisions about whether to take a particular drug.”
“3. We do NOT cover all the potential side effects of a given
medication. These side effects are just those relevant to people
who are looking to lose fat, gain muscle, and/or improve their
**I agree with PN on that. Changes you make should match your GP’s recommendations.**
What medication types did they look at?
Compiled from thousands of PN client intake forms some of the most common medication types taken regularly or occasionally:
- Birth control
- Allergy/asthma – antihistamine
- Allergy/asthma – corticosteroid
- Stomach – PPI
- Allergy/asthma – beta agonist
- Hormones (progesterone)
- Hormones (estrogen)
- Insulin/glucose management
- Opioid painkiller
- Sleep aid
- Beta blocker
Any of these or several of these sound familiar?
Side effects found:
A sampler of possible side effects, PN divided into a few categories:
- Gastrointestinal: liver function, nausea/vomiting, diarrhea/constipation, and changes in appetite or hunger.
- Nervous system: pain, dizziness, and neurologic muscle weakness.
- Metabolic: glucose and lipid (fat) processing, metabolic syndrome/Type 2 diabetes, and weight gain.
- Circulatory/cardiovascular: cardiovascular complications (i.e. heart rhythm disturbances), electrolyte regulation (i.e. sodium/potassium levels), fluid (i.e. water retention), hypertension, or blood clots.
- Mental-emotional: mood, focus, sleep, and perceived energy levels. As well as, memory & cognition (these affect ability to recall information (such as nutritional advice), follow instructions, focus on a plan, or make smart decisions.
- Hormonal: adrenal, thyroid, and sex hormones, which in turn affect metabolism and body composition.
- Musculoskeletal: muscle pain and weakness, cramping, or bone and soft tissue damage.
- Nutrient interactions: medication blocking vitamin, or mineral absorption, or nutrient deficiencies presenting as other health problems (i.e. anemia or insomnia).
- Other: Miscellaneous side effects like increased or decreased sweating or poor body temperature regulation; FDA warnings about lactation; and ominous-sounding stuff like “purple toe syndrome” (yep, that’s a thing — who knew?).
PN was “astonished by how much even relatively ‘safe’ medications can impact body composition, metabolic health, and athletic performance”.
Some of these side effects are due to:
- the actions of the drugs themselves.
- nutrient changes or depletions (alterations in the way our bodies process minerals or electrolytes).
If you would like to find out side effects or benefits to consider, based on PN’s list of common medications, let me know. [email address] It’s a very long document, so I’ll send you only the information you want.
- Allergy: Antihistamines
- Allergy: Beta agonists
- Allergy: Corticosteriods
- Anti-depressant/antianxiety drugs
- Beta blocker
- Birth control drugs
- Insulin/Glucose management drugs
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDS)
- Stomach: proton pump inhibitors (PPIs)
- Thyroid drugs
What to do?
- Be a careful consumer and an informed patient. Research all medication choices carefully. Your pharmacist and General Practitioner can be great resources.
- If you take medication – even occasionally – “double-check all of the side effects. MerckManual.com and RxList.com are helpful resources.”
- “Treat over-the-counter medications as carefully as prescription medications.”
- “Double check interactions between medications and all supplements. (Check with your GP, pharmacist and educate yourself.)”
- “Many common medications impair proper digestion and GI function as well as nutrient uptake and use.”
- Combining some medications & supplements could have negative effects. “For instance, combining an allergy/asthma beta-agonist with a “fat burner” (which has stimulant effects) could be bad for cardiac safety.”
If you’re struggling to get results with a solid health and fitness program, underlying health conditions and medication use might be playing a role.
Whatever the outcome, keep doing the healthy behaviors that truly matter. The benefits:
- fewer medications you’ll need to take.
- reduce medication intake by improving
your nutrition and exercise habits.
A good coach (under the guidance of your GP) “can help work with your current medications to help you get the best possible results for your body, no matter what you’re working with.”
When my DH decided to switch to clean eating, it was recommended that he use a spray-type B12. I’ve been using the spray a couple times a week and the last time I went to my GP he told me I needed to cut my medication in half because I was taking too much. He said “I don’t know what you’ve done in the last year, but you thyroid function has gotten better.” Go figure. That never happens. Usually it’s the opposite. 🙂
Here’s a link to the B-12 spray we use…
Of course, everyone is different, so, once again, consult your GP before taking any supplements.
Body Type Nutrition