Diet and Strength Training After 50

A couple of days ago, I watched a game of soccer with my friends, and I heard the commentator remark, “you can’t keep scoring goals and expect to win the match.” You can perceive this as a metaphor for your training. 

You can’t keep tearing down what you are building and expect it to stand. A body divided against itself is a weak body. People often wish to live healthily and stay fit, they start many healthy practices to achieve their goals, but unfortunately, they hold on to unhealthy tendencies that draw them back three steps for every two steps they gain. If you acquire one bad habit to lose another, have you even made any changes?

It’s a commended step you’ve taken to train after 50. However, you need more than training to live that healthy and fit lifestyle; you need the proper diet. At this age, you cannot continue to get away with the bad eating habits you had in your younger years. 

For example, you could consume many calories as a young man in your 30s and still not have issues with excessive weight, but you cannot afford to do that now. Your immune system is not as durable as it used to be. You need to cover all bases when staying healthy and fit at this age. The proper nutrients are the key to this, and I will walk you through it. Let’s discuss the nutrients you need at this age.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Your body needs nutrients to stay active and grow; however, some nutrients will do your body more good at this stage in your life than others. Let’s take a look at some of the nutrients you need.

Calcium and Vitamin D

Calcium and vitamin D supplements reduce the risk of falling in older adults by improving muscle strength, muscle function, balance and reducing bone loss. Increasing food intake will enhance your muscle growth; it’s a step in the right direction.

Older men need more calcium and vitamin D to help them maintain strong and healthy bones. Foods that are rich in calcium include: Low-fat and free fat dairy products, like milk and yogurt. Fortified foods and beverages, such as some cereals.

Dark green leafy vegetables and canned fish are also sources of calcium. Fatty fish like salmon, eggs, and fortified foods and beverages are rich in vitamin D. It is advisable to have three servings of low-fat and free fat every day. If you take calcium supplements, then make sure to choose one with vitamin D.

Dietary Fiber

Fiber helps you maintain a normal bowel function and improve digestive health by the survival of good bacteria. Studies have shown that when you take more dietary fiber, it helps reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. 

Since foods rich in fiber take longer to digest, they can help you stay full longer, so you don’t get the temptation to snack. As a man over 50 years, you need at least 30 grams of dietary fiber every day. Whole grains, beans, fruits, vegetables, and lentils are good sources of fiber. 

Try making at least half of your grain intake whole grain. Good whole grain sources are pasta, oatmeal, whole-wheat bread, and whole-grain cereals. If you’re buying processed fiber food, make sure to check the label for nutritional facts, ensure it has at least 3 grams of dietary fiber per serving.

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is an essential vitamin and is not produced in the body. It can only be obtained from food or supplements.

The recommended daily intake for you is 2.4mcg (micrograms). Vitamin B helps with red blood cell formation, preventing anemia, supporting bone health, and preventing osteoporosis. If you combine this with your strength training, you will be well on your way to achieving strong, healthy bones. 

It can also reduce an eye disease that mainly affects your central vision, called macular degeneration, a disease often associated with advancement in age.

Potassium

Potassium is one of the major macro minerals. It plays a massive role in the function of the kidneys, heart, muscles, and transmission of messages through the nervous system. As a man over 50 years, you need about 3500mg consumption of potassium per day. 

Good sources of potassium include fruits and vegetables, such as bananas, sweet potatoes, spinach, and white beans.

Another benefit of taking potassium is it helps to prevent or manage high blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases. It also plays a role in bone health. Studies have shown that those who take lots of fruits and vegetables containing potassium may have higher bone mineral density. A diet that’s high in potassium may also help preserve muscle mass in older people.

Healthy Fats

At this age, most of the fats you should eat now should come from heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, found in fish, nuts, vegetable oils, avocados, and seeds. Saturated fats, which come from fatty meat and full-fat dairy, should be limited to help reduce the risk of heart disease.

Zinc

Zinc is an essential mineral. If your zinc levels are low, testosterone and insulin sensitivity can dip. (Fun fact), it also plays a role in reducing the duration of the common cold. We lose zinc through sweat, so it’s vital to keep an adequate intake. Food sources are lean meat, shellfish, legumes, seeds, nuts, eggs, whole grains, etc.

Omega-3 Fish Oil (EPA/DHA)

Omega-3 fatty acids are a class of polyunsaturated fatty acids. Three main types are essential within this class: DHA, EPA, and ALA. It’s imperative to consume EPA and DHA in your diet because your body can synthesize them. 

Fish is the primary food source, but if you can’t eat fish up to three times every week, you can get the nutrients needed in supplements. Fish oils benefit your health in many ways: they boost heart health by negating risk factors for heart disease like high cholesterol, triglyceride levels, and blood pressure. 

Additionally, they fight long-term inflammation and promote proper inflammatory responses and recovery. Finally, they help with joint health by improving the body’s range of motion and reducing morning stiffness.

Probiotics

Probiotics are living microorganisms that have health benefits when consumed. There are billions of living bacteria in our body that make up what we call the microbiome. There are good bacteria and bad ones that have several functions and effects on our health. 

Our microbiome changes from time to time and is unique to each individual based on how we relate to our environment, consume medication, and many other factors. With its effect on our body, consuming probiotic supplements regularly is very helpful to maintaining your microbiome.

Curcumin

Curcumin is the most powerful naturally occurring anti-inflammatory ingredient found in turmeric. Curcumin can help combat chronic inflammation that can be disruptive to healthy cellular processes.

Electrolytes

They are a group of minerals in our body with an electric charge. Hence the name. They have many functions that help to maintain homeostasis. Two of these include regulating fluid balance and muscle contractions.

This is why it’s among the best supplements for men who work out. Our kidneys do substantial work in maintaining fluid balance, and if we take appropriate and healthy diets, electrolyte supplements might not be needed.

Make Calories Count

You cannot eat the same way you did in your 20s and 30s while maintaining a healthy weight. Those days you burned more calories because your body was more active, but now, you don’t naturally burn as much. Your metabolism has slowed down, and you’ll need more activity to keep it up.

Despite the fact you need fewer calories, you need the same or possibly higher amounts of nutrients as you grow older. Ensure you include wholesome foods regularly, including fruits, vegetables, low-fat or fat- free dairy, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy plant-based fats, which will give you nutrients and help keep those calories in check.

Note: Nutrients that might not be readily available in food should be taken in supplements.

As I quoted at the beginning of this chapter, “you can’t keep scoring goals and expect to win the match.” We have discussed the nutrients you need at this age. However, there are some things you need to avoid as well. Let’s take a look at them:

Sodium

You don’t generally need to look for sodium because it will always find you. The key is avoiding it. Almost any unprocessed food like fruits, whole grain, nuts, vegetables, meat, and dairy foods is low in sodium.

And most of the salt in our diets is from foods commercially prepared. Notable sources of sodium in our diets include breads/rolls, savory snacks (chips, popcorn, pretzels, crackers), sandwiches, cold cuts/cured meats, soups, pizza, burritos, tacos, chicken, cheese, eggs, omelets.

Unfortunately, these are foods most of us don’t want to do without. Salt, also known as sodium chloride, is roughly 60% chloride and 40% sodium. It’s used to flavor food along with other things. It’s also used as a food preservative because bacteria can’t live in the presence of high amounts of salt. 

Although, the human body requires a small amount of sodium to contract and relax muscles, carry out nerve impulses, and maintain the proper balance of water and minerals. An estimated 500mg of sodium is needed for these vital functions every day. 

Too much sodium in your diet can then lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, and possibly even a stroke. It can also cause a loss of calcium. If you consume a teaspoon of salt every day, that’s about 2300mg of sodium, which is way far above what your body needs.

In many people, the kidneys have trouble keeping up with excess sodium in the blood. As sodium accumulates, the body needs water to dilute the sodium. This will cause an increase in the fluid surrounding the cells and the amount of blood in the bloodstream. 

When blood increases, the heart has to do more work, and there is more pressure on blood vessels, which leads to high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke. You’re also at risk of heart failure. 

These are extreme cases, so please refrain from throwing your salt shaker in the trash. Evidence has shown that too much salt can damage the aorta, heart, and kidneys, even without an increase in blood pressure, and it may be bad for the bones too.

Since salt tends to be a flavor we long for, here are some alternatives to flavoring your foods while avoiding too much salt intake: dill, cinnamon, basil, nutmeg, and rosemary. These are all very low in sodium.

Saturated fats

We are surrounded by lots of this, though, not like sodium. Saturated fat is a type of dietary fat found in animals mostly; some plants also contain them. Saturated fats are without a doubt unhealthy for you. Foods such as butter, red meat, palm oil, palm kernel oil, coconut oil, and cheese contain high concentrations of saturated fats.

Your body needs healthy fats for fuel and many other functions. Too much saturated fats can cause cholesterol to build up in your blood vessels. Saturated fat increases your LDL (bad) cholesterol. And high LDL cholesterol will increase your chances of heart disease and strokes.

Many high-fat foods such as baked foods, fried foods have lots of saturated fats. Overeating it can add extra calories to your diet and cause you to add excessive weight, and I’m sure you don’t want to add that excess weight at this time.

Processed Foods

Processed foods have been altered during preparation to make them more tasteful, flavorful, convenient, or improve shelf life. Some foods are more processed than others. For example, a box of macaroni and cheese is considered heavily processed because it’s chemically altered with artificial flavors, additives, and other ingredients. 

Most of the foods we eat have been processed to a lesser degree, but the immediate concern here is about ultra-processed foods such as cake mixes, jarred pasta sauces, crackers, and many more.

There are lots of potential health risks in consuming ultra-processed foods. So much processing deprives foods of their nutrients, which means you’ll only be consuming and not getting the expected benefits because the nutrients are stripped away in the process. You stand the temptation of overeating if you frequently indulge in processed foods.

This will always put you above your maximum calorie intake for a day. And what is worse – most ultra-processed foods are calorie-dense and are pretty addictive. Also, most processed foods digest quicker, and we burn about half as many calories digesting processed foods compared to unprocessed foods – if you combine this with the fact that these foods are calorie-dense, then it’s a straight road to weight gain. 

These foods are also filled with many artificial ingredients, most have not been tested by any other person other than the company using them, and these ingredients might be unsafe for your health. More so, too much-processed food may result in obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes because most of these foods contain too much sugar, sodium, and fat.

I realize it will be tough to do without processed foods 100% of the time, but you should understand it is a process, and progress is more important than perfection. Always check the label; a general rule of thumb is the longer the ingredient list, the more processed the food is.

And if you can’t pronounce most of the ingredients, that’s a hint that the food is ultra-processed. Start replacing them slowly, start by cooking more meals when you are at home. Everyone has to start somewhere.

Supplements

Supplements are not necessary for most people since a healthy, balanced diet provides all of the vitamins and minerals they need. In small amounts, minerals and vitamins such as iron, calcium, and vitamin C are essential to your body’s functioning.

There are many people who choose to take supplements, but taking them too much or for too long can cause problems.

However, it becomes harder for you to lose weight as you get older. If you don’t see any results after a few weeks, you might lose motivation. To give yourself a little extra help to shed pounds, you might consider trying natural supplements that support weight loss.

Certainly, a person cannot rely on a single food or supplement to burn fat. They should also decrease their calorie intake and increase physical activity. That said, when used as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle, natural fat burners may accelerate weight loss by either increasing metabolism or decreasing appetite.

Certainly, traditional approaches to weight loss cannot be substituted by natural supplements. But supplements may help people burn slightly more calories every day, gradually increasing weight loss.

Resurge is of the most popular weight loss supplements that promise to help you shed pounds and sleep better. Because studies have shown that sleep deprivation is associated with deficiencies of growth hormone and elevated levels of cortisol, both of which contribute to obesity.

While other supplements promote nutritional factors, meal replacement forms, appetite suppression, or similar effects, Resurge boosts your body’s metabolism by increasing your core temperature. However, before making any purchases, you might want to read some Resurge reviews because the supplement industry is rife with scams.

It should be noted that pills or supplements only work when combined with a healthy weight-loss diet. Supplements are ineffective on their own and are hardly a solution to obesity. 

Besides, it’s always best to talk with your doctor before you start taking a supplement, especially if you already take medications, have health concerns or are pregnant.

Lower Calories

The amount of calories you need per day depends on your age and activity level. The daily calories you need over 50 are approximately:

  • 2,000 to 2,200 calories if you are not active.
  • 2,200 to 2,400 calories if you are moderately active.
  • 2,400 to 2,800 calories if you are regularly active.

You might be wondering why you should avoid lower calories when earlier on, you were advised against higher calories – balance is the key; not too much, not too little. Just as eating more than your body needs causes you to gain weight, eating fewer than your body needs causes you to lose weight. Some effects of lower calories include:

It can lower your metabolism: Eating fewer calories than your body needs can cause your metabolism to slow down. And more than that, a slow metabolism can continue even after a person increases their calorie intake. 

Another way lower calories can affect your body is muscle loss, especially if your diet is low in protein and you fail to include any exercise in your life.

It can cause fatigue and nutrient deficiency: You stand the risk of getting fatigued frequently and facing challenges in meeting your daily nutrient needs. There is a lot of chance you’re not taking sufficient amounts of some nutrients if your calorie intake is lower than it should be. 

For instance, insufficient amounts of iron, folate, or vitamin B12 can lead to anaemia. An inadequate amount of protein intake can lead to muscle loss. An Insufficient amount of vitamin A can weaken your immune system and lead to permanent eye damage. The list goes on.

It can weaken your bones: Lower calorie intake can weaken your bones. This is because lower calories reduce hormone levels like testosterone and estrogen. Low levels of these hormones can cause a reduction in bone formation and increase bone breakdown, which results in weaker bones. 

Also, if you combine lower calorie intake with physical exercises, it can increase stress hormone levels, leading to bone loss. Bone loss is no joke; it’s irreversible and increases the risk of fractures. It may lower your immunity: You are at risk of infections and illnesses when you drop your calorie intake, and of course, this is not good for you. 

A study comparing athletes in sports focused on cutting weight, such as boxing, to those in sports less focused on body weight. The researchers found out that athletes in fields focused on weight control made more were almost twice as likely to become ill in the study period of three months.

Change is one of the hardest things we often face. Even though there are many benefits to changing a lifestyle, we find it difficult to do. It’s because change threatens us; puts more pressure on us; takes us out of our comfort zones; requires more than what we are used to. But it is something we must address. And not just change in any direction but in the right direction. Because without change, we won’t grow; in fact, we can’t grow.

I understand how difficult it will be to do without processed foods – the pizzas, cakes, cookies, and many more. That will mean being extra conscious of what you eat, especially anytime you are not home. It can be tedious trying to fill in the vitamins, calcium, magnesium into one’s daily meal, regardless of appetite for these foods or not. But these are sacrifices one must make – the ones who do reap the rewards.

The key to making this change without much inconvenience is doing it slowly. Many people try to stop a habit or an addiction abruptly, but only for a short time, and before long, they’re back. So, take it slowly.

You’re not in a competition. It’s OK to plan how you want to include the nutrients you need into your daily meal and how you want to avoid the things you don’t need. Slowly drop the negatives and add the positives. I bet you, before long, it becomes part of you.

Take your nutrition with as much care as you can muster. It’s crucial to your strength training goals, and more so, to your overall well-being.

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