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Nutrition in Midlife: Why Extreme Dieting is Not the Answer

When it comes to managing your well-being during midlife, understanding the seismic shifts occurring in your body is crucial. As hormone levels fluctuate, you might find yourself on an energy rollercoaster, with mood swings waiting around every bend. It’s tempting to cling to the dieting tactics of your 20's like extreme dieting (diets that put you on calories of 800-1200 a day), but it's time to reconsider how sensible that is.





orange and tape measure



Why is extreme Dieting not the Answer?

Extreme dieting — specifically, the diets that have you on about 1200-calorie (or less) *— could be doing more harm than good. Here’s why:

  • Metabolic Mayhem: At midlife, your metabolic rate often slows down. A drastic cut in calories can cause your body to conserve energy, not expend it, leading to a sluggish metabolism.

  • Hormonal Havoc: Your hormones are already on a wild ride. Extreme dieting can exacerbate hormonal imbalances, worsening mood swings and energy dips.

  • Nutrient Necessities: Your nutritional needs are heightened. Cutting calories dramatically can lead to deficiencies, affecting everything from bone density to skin health.

The science is clear of course you will lose weight if you are in an energy deficit, but you are making it so much more difficult for yourself with super low calorie diets: sustainability is key. Focusing on a balanced diet that is rich in nutrients can help stabilise your hormones and maintain your energy levels, mood and adherence.


Ultimately no diet is going to work if you ditch in a week or two and revert to your old habits, so whatever you choose to do has to be a change for the long term. Often the more extreme diets fail to deliver because they include so much restriction that they are incredibly difficult to stick to over the long term or they just are not practical to fit into your everyday life, eating out with firends and family etc.

*If you are very petite person then the 1200 number might be ok for you, but proceed with caution.


So, what's the game plan?

  • 🥦 Varied Vegetables: Rich in fibre and essential vitamins, they help manage weight and support hormone health.

  • 🐟 Quality Proteins: Essential for muscle maintenance, they also help keep you feeling full longer.

  • 💧 Hydration Heaven: Water is crucial for every cellular function — don’t skimp on it!

  • ⚖️ Sensible Calories: Aim for a daily intake of 1600-1800 calories to support your midlife metabolism without compromising vitality. This isn't a one-size-fits-all number but a starting point to be tailored to your individual lifestyle and activity levels. It’s about nourishing, not just feeding, ensuring every calorie counts towards your wellbeing.

Vegetables

A rainbow on your plate does more than just please the eye. Varied vegetables bring a plethora of phytonutrients, essential vitamins, and minerals that are vital for health in midlife. Each colour represents a different suite of nutrients — red bell peppers are loaded with vitamin C, dark leafy greens are rich in calcium and iron, and sweet potatoes are bursting with vitamin A. These nutrients are not merely supporting actors; they're leading players in maintaining hormonal balance and supporting your immune system. The fibre in these vegetables is also a boon for digestive health, which can often become sluggish during midlife. By inviting a diverse array of vegetables into your diet, you’re not just decorating your dish; you’re fortifying your body's defences against the ebbs and flows of midlife changes.

Protein

Protein deserves its own spotlight. As we age, muscle mass naturally declines in a process known as sarcopenia. This loss can slow down your metabolism, making weight management more challenging and potentially affecting your mobility and strength. The right amount of high-quality protein acts like a skilled weaver, repairing and maintaining lean muscle tissue, and supporting metabolic rate. It’s not just about quantity, though; it’s the quality that matters. Incorporating a variety of proteins—from lean meats, fish, and eggs to plant-based stars like beans and lentils—ensures a symphony of amino acids that your body needs to perform its daily ballet of activities. Embrace protein as your ally, and you’ll be setting the stage for a stronger, more resilient body that’s well-equipped to handle the changes of midlife with grace.

Hydration

Water — it's the essence of life and the unsung hero of midlife health. Hydration is key to keeping the body's performance tuned like a grand piano. In midlife, the importance of hydration is amplified as the body's thirst response diminishes, making dehydration a silent stowaway. Adequate water intake supports every cell and function, from flushing toxins to facilitating nutrient absorption. It also plays a crucial role in maintaining skin elasticity and combating the appearance of ageing. But it's not just about skin deep; staying hydrated helps with cognitive function, keeping those mood swings at bay and the mind sharp as a tack. Think of water as your personal health concierge, catering to your body's needs from the inside out.

Sensible Calories

While hydration is your vitality's vessel, pairing it with the right energy intake is equally crucial. For most women in midlife, a daily calorie range of 1600-1800 is considered sensible. This isn't about restricting; it's about fuelling your body efficiently. This range supports active metabolism and caters to your body's nuanced needs, taking into account the gentle shift in energy expenditure as we age. It’s the sweet spot where nutrition meets life’s demands, allowing for a diet that's rich in all food groups and satisfying to the soul. Tailor this range to your activity level and listen to your body — it's the wisest consultant you’ll ever hire.


I hope you have found this post helpful and helped you understand why extreme dieting is not the answer to all your problems, it might even have shed light on why you have been struggling to succeed on one of those diets? Let me know in the comments😉


Remember, midlife is not a crisis; it's a chapter for change. You're not chasing a number on the scale; you're after a life brimming with energy where you can enjoy good times. It's about crafting a lifestyle and diet that's as sustainable as it is enjoyable for you — one that your future self will thank you for.


Follow for science-backed advice on fitness and nutrition to help you live your best mid-life. If you have any questions or need help, please feel free to DM me.

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