What’s so special about 45?! Many people reach ‘middle age’ and experience rapid weight gain, lower energy, more brain fog, trouble sleeping, limited mobility … the list goes on. It’s very common! But some of the biggest hurdles to good health after age 45 are the myths that cause people to waste time and energy without seeing results. And the worst part: A lot of people hear these myths from weight-loss programs, health products, or trending diets like Keto and Paleo that promise results but don’t deliver in the long term. We’re ready to bust the top five diet and exercise myths right now and share what actually contributes to your wellness. Whether you are working, nearing retirement, or retired, these tips will work for you.
Myth #1: I won’t have enough energy if I don’t eat all day.
Many believe that they must eat often to maintain energy. When people begin to feel tired, or fidgety, they may think, “oh, I need to eat!” When in reality, it’s the spike in blood sugar that makes them feel great for a bit, but then sluggish later, when their sugar drops too low.
Instead: Maintain energy throughout the day by limiting carbs.
The key is not eating often but eating so that blood sugar is maintained at appropriate levels. Blood sugar fluctuations lead to ups and downs in energy. Carbohydrates are usually the reason for those fluctuations. It’s best to eat carbs in ways that slow your body’s absorption of the sugar. Focus on complex carbohydrates, which also contain fiber or starch, instead of simple carbohydrates that only contain sugar. Complex carbs digest more slowly and are often more filling. Pairing protein with complex carbohydrates like whole grains, fruits and vegetables, or beans can help you avoid a spike in blood sugar and maintain better energy throughout the day.
Myth #2: Fruit is super nutritious.
Many times, people think ‘fruits and vegetables are healthy for me.’ That’s true, but fruits and vegetables are not created equal because fruits contain a large amount of sugar. People cling to this myth because fruit tastes so good—their bodies have been trained to crave sugar! Just because fruit is healthy—it provides valuable nutrients and antioxidants—doesn’t mean more fruit equals better health. Since it is high in sugar and carbohydrates, it can cause digestive issues if eaten in large quantities.
Instead: Limit the amount of fruit you eat each day.
Use portion control for the amount of fruit you’re eating each day as part of a healthy diet. A good limit for adults 45 and older is 1.5-2 cups or less, according to the USDA. Some of the best fruits to eat include apples (lots of fiber), blueberries (excellent source of antioxidants), oranges (high in vitamin C and fiber), mango (potassium, folate, fiber and many vitamins), or avocado (high in healthy fat and low in sugar).
Myth #3: I can function without very much sleep.
Our bodies do amazing things, including getting by with short stints of sleep, but it will catch up with you soon. Pulling an all-nighter or working all hours of the day have become too normalized in our society. Humans are NOT naturally nocturnal, and until the lightbulb was invented, we were probably all catching the ZZZs we needed. Working on too little sleep for too long can take years off your life expectancy.
Instead: Get at least seven hours of sleep each night.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends seven to nine hours of sleep each night for active adults. Getting less than seven hours each night as an adult can lead to bad health. When we sleep, our bodies detox. Our organs operate on an internal clock that is completely thrown off if they are not able to rest. Try keeping a regular schedule, eliminating blue light as bedtime gets closer and avoiding caffeine for eight hours before bedtime.
Myth #4: My stomach is making noise, I must be hungry.
You know that gurgle you hear sometimes and assume is hunger? Truth is, that noise is a natural part of digestion. Your belly button is closer to your intestines than your stomach, so grumblings coming from there can be misleading. This myth is perpetuated because eating quiets the noises as the intestine must focus on breaking down new food instead of processing the gas that was actually making the gurgles.
Instead: Stay hydrated.
Dehydration can show up as hunger. When you first think you are hungry, consider the hydrating or dehydrating food and activities you’ve had that day—you may actually just need a hydration boost!
Myth #5: I can walk my weight off.
Walking has many benefits, it’s great for your legs and your cardiovascular system, and it may even add years to your life, but walking alone will not result in much weight loss. In addition, it’s very time consuming and possibly one of the least productive ways to lose weight.
Instead: Burn more calories and fat through bodyweight exercises or lifting.
You can lose weight and tone muscles more quickly by replacing walking with bodyweight exercises or by lifting something heavy. We recommend kettlebell swings, crawls and other bodyweight exercises, or lifting dumbbells or other household items to get the fit body you need to stay active. Get more ideas in our Exercise Over 50 blog.
The Truth About Diet and Exercise for Adults 45+
No doubt about it. Things have changed for you now that your body has reached a certain age. The old tricks to lose weight, gain more energy, or realign your mental and physical body are no longer working. The truth is that diet and exercise look different at this age. Fluctuations in blood sugar may affect us more, muscle loss may require more protein and exercise, and movement without introducing new aches and pains is important.
Our Wellness Center focuses on helping people 45-75 through nutrition coaching, exercise, and many other holistic health strategies to promote strength and vitality. Check out any of our services to begin making a change.
Consistent Support and Guidance Makes a Difference
Are you ready to improve your health in a sustainable way? Consider our Every Day Heroes’ Power Up Program for women who are 45-65 years old. Within 3-4 weeks, you are guaranteed to see results in your body, mind, mental health, and more. Developed and led by expert Cara-Michele Nether, the 12-week program has a track record of real results for real people. And, the habits that get you there are simple to incorporate into your everyday life.
With the program’s support and guidance, you can move from seeing your body and mind as a liability to using newfound mental and physical strength for yourself and the people you love.