In the good ole days, if you were up a few pounds, all you needed to do was cut calories and, voila, the weight would come off. This method worked every time. Then, one day it stopped working. HOW COME? 

Well, let’s just add this to the list of the “cons of aging”. I’m seeing this happen more and more with my clients over fifty, where cutting calories no longer promotes weight loss. This leads to A LOT of frustration. The solution?  Instead of cutting calories, you need to reduce your intake of refined carbohydrates and sugar and add healthy fat.

As you age, you can become more sensitive to carbohydrates. This sensitivity starts a domino effect: Too much sugar leads to chronic inflammation; chronic inflammation can lead to becoming insulin resistant; both of these factors prevent you from losing weight because you become much more efficient at storing fat.

Here’s something fascinating: When I encourage my clients to add more healthy fat to their diets, most of them BLANCH at the idea. I can even see the fear and panic through their masks! This is probably because we came of age in the “low-fat era”. We were told that fat was bad.  Product after product proudly displayed “low-fat” or “fat-free” disclaimers. To make lower fat foods taste good, food companies had to add sugar for palatability. In spite of the low-fat craze, Americans got fatter. Even though we now understand that sugar is the real culprit, we still carry that emotional fear of fat.

Healthy fats are unsaturated. Unsaturated fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids), come from plant sources, and stay liquid at room temperature. They are not only an essential part of your diet, but have more than 2x the calories compared to protein and carbohydrates. That’s why fat is filling! This means that a little bit of fat goes a long way. Unsaturated fats can be found in in nuts, nut butter, avocados, olive oil, and fatty fish. These are the fats that I want you to eat. AND, I don’t want you to be afraid to eat them.

I want to give you a couple of examples of what I’m taking about.

Example 1: Let’s say you love to eat 2 slices of whole wheat toast for breakfast with ¼ of an avocado. I would much prefer, 1 slice of toast and ½ of an avocado.

Example 2: Your favorite breakfast is ¾ cup of oats for oatmeal served with 1 cup of blueberries and sprinkled with brown sugar. I would prefer, ½ cup of oats, ½ cup of blueberries, ¼ cup of chopped nuts and sprinkled with chia seeds.

Notice–in both of these examples, I cut down the carbs and added healthy fat. Often, when I make these suggestions, the first question I hear is, “Isn’t this just too fattening?” The answer is no. If you are trying to lose weight and are stuck, you need to reduce those carbs. Adding healthy fat will increase satiety and satisfaction.

I am not suggesting for you to have a fat “free for all”. Remember—fat is calorically dense so you must watch your portions. If you’re used to using a “shmear” of peanut butter on a slice of toast, but feel hungry soon after, do an experiment:  try using a portion size, which is 2 tablespoons. You might be surprised at how this fills you up. In addition, the protein and the fat in the peanut butter will slow down the absorption of the carbs in the bread.

We all know that eating carbs leads to eating more carbs and wanting more. That’s why fat is so fabulous—fat doesn’t cause a rise in the hormone, insulin.

One last detour: I want to mention Weight Watchers, because most women I know (including me) have been on Weight Watchers at some point in their lives. Weight Watchers, in essence, counts calories via points. I know it has morphed over the years, but I think Weight Watchers has contributed to the “fear of fat”.  I still hear, “That’s just too many points”, when I suggest getting an extremely high-quality olive oil and using more than a teaspoon on a salad.  Many of my clients over fifty find that Weight Watchers no longer works for them. Again, it’s not a calorie issue, it’s what those calories are made out of.

So, between the low-fat era, and Weight Watchers we are paralyzed to add fat. I say, let’s stop the madness!  If you are stuck and unable to lose weight, try an experiment: Cut the processed carbs. Add some healthy fat. Initially, measure a serving size of fat so you understand how much you’re eating. You might be very surprised at the results!

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