Frustrated that no matter how much you exercise as you’ve gotten older, you can’t seem to lose the weight or the body fat? While exercise is important for cardiovascular health, strength, bone density, and your immune system, it alone will not make you as healthy or fit as you want to be.
Your eating habits make the biggest impact on the way you look and feel. For short-term and long-term results, you must put a high priority on your diet. It’s been said that 80 percent of the way you look and feel is determined by your eating habits and not your exercise habits.
You’ll want to focus on both eating right and exercise. Don’t think your exercise routines will allow you to loosen up on good eating habits; that’s a recipe for failure. If you’ve been working out consistently but you can’t get your body to respond, it most likely is your diet.
Here are the Top 10 DIET SECRETS For Older Men that will set you up for success:
1. Too much body fat will cover up your hard work.
This is the #1 challenge that most older men face. They work out to improve their appearance, but it doesn’t change as quickly as they want. They hope that weight training will help them build muscle and improve the way they look. They also hope that cardiovascular training will help them lose fat.
The body that you’ve lifted the weights and run on a treadmill to create is there, but it’s just hidden underneath too much body fat. You’re going to lose that body fat primarily through your diet.
If you’ve heard this before but it hasn’t sunken in quite yet, you’re not alone. I work with even the most-committed men through one-on-one coaching and it’s something they need to be reminded of often too. As I stated before, this is the #1 challenge that older men face no matter how long they’ve been focusing on their health and fitness.
2. Calories you eat versus calories you burn.
Just about every diet out there can work for you. It’s just a matter of which diet you believe will be sustainable and enjoyable for you. It’s not the diet itself that makes the biggest difference. So, don’t get confused if one person says this or that diet is “the best” and another person says that it didn’t work for them.
All diets have what I call common “organizing principles” that make them work. What’s the most significant common organizing principle? They’ll make sure you don’t eat more food than you’re burning while making sure you’re eating enough to stay healthy.
How many calories will work best for you? The exact number will depend on the man and his activity levels. It’s also important to remember that it’s not just a day-to-day process, it’s how effective you spread out the diet principles over several days and even weeks. You need to be consistent for your diet to work.
3. Cardio machine readings should NOT influence your diet.
There’s a saying that goes, “You can’t out-exercise a bad diet.” If you eat too much food, you shouldn’t believe that extra cardiovascular workouts are going to make up for, or even neutralize, eating too much food. Remember, your success will come down to the calories you eat versus calories you burn.
Never make adjustments to your eating habits based on how many calories you may think you’re burning by walking, running on a treadmill, pumping hard on a stair climber, or any other cardio machine. Never assume for a moment that those readings directly convert to the amount of food you can and can’t eat. Yes, they both use “calories” as their units of measure, but they’re not comparable. Your body will also adapt over time and burn fewer calories doing the same work.
4. It’s normal for your willpower to be challenged at night.
If you’re like most older men, the toughest time of day for you to stick to your good eating habits will be at night. So, if this sounds like you, you should feel relieved that you’re not alone.
It’s common to have your willpower challenged at the end of your day. The daily challenges and responsibilities we face wear down our willpower, focus, energy and time. They need to be allocated properly.
It’s fine to eat a little later in the evening as long as you don’t eat too many calories for the entire day. If you mistakenly believe that anything that you eat past 7 pm turns to fat when you go to bed, you’re going to test your willpower every night if your normal bedtime is 10 pm. Those can be three hours of pure hell every night. Regardless of what you might have heard, the food that you eat at night will not automatically turn into fat once you go to bed. So, you can strategically plan your meals at night and save yourself the angst.
5. Short-term weight fluctuations are NOT a reflection of your habits.
Anything that you track, monitor, and access, gives you a better chance to improve upon it. Weighing yourself can be a useful tool as you work toward getting into better physical shape and become healthier.
Your body will go through normal weight fluctuations as you improve your eating and lose body fat. It’s important that you understand how your weight fluctuates, what those fluctuations mean, and what they don’t mean. Otherwise, weighing yourself will throw you off and cause a lot of confusion.
Your weight could go up a couple of pounds from the time you wake up in the morning and the time you go to bed at night. The extra weight isn’t body fat and it’s not muscle. It’s caused by the fluids we drank and some of the food we ate that day.
I suggest that you weigh yourself every morning and every night as you work to lose body fat and get healthier. That way, the two to five pound normal weight swings won’t bother you. Once you understand it, you’ll feel better about it.
6. A smaller body will be a more impressive body when you lose body fat.
Even though we’re a little older, who wouldn’t want to add a little more healthy, attractive muscle? We may never want to look like a bodybuilder, but a little bit more muscle would be great, wouldn’t it?
When many of us think about working out and lifting weights, we think about building some impressive size in the form of rock-solid muscle: Bigger arms, a bigger chest. Why not? That’s why most of us are lifting weights, right?
Muscle doesn’t grow nearly as quickly and easily and many men think. You should be prepared to lose weight on the scale as you get closer to the impressive looking body you want, even when you’re hitting the gym hard and consistently.
You’ll be surprised how much bigger you’ll appear to others when you lose the body fat. This becomes even more obvious when you take your shirt off. Don’t be surprised if people you know who haven’t seen you for a while think you’ve gained 10 pounds of muscle when you’ve actually lost 10 pounds on the scale. Losing the body fat in a slow, healthy manner creates a visual separation between different muscle groups and gives off the illusion of more muscle size.
7. Buy smaller clothes when you lose body fat and start looking better.
While you may look bigger without your shirt on, you’ll look smaller in ill-fitting clothes. You might get some irritating comments from family and friends like “You look so skinny,” “Are you sick?” or “You looked better when you were heavier!”
Be prepared. These type of comments, after working hard, can play mind games with you if you’re not ready for them. Most people don’t understand the fat loss process. They don’t know how much better you’re looking with your clothes off. Now, I know how tempting it might be to rip your shirt off and show them! Effective? Definitely. Appropriate? Probably not.
Buy new clothes when you go down in weight and size. Most men want to wait until all of the weight they want to lose is gone. That’s understandable. But, if you want to show off your hard work now and prevent the discouraging, misinformed comments, invest in new, better fitting clothes each step along the journey.
8. Calorie recommendations are just estimates.
The calorie recommendations that you get from a nutrition website, app, or even a qualified nutritionist will only be estimates to get you started. Most of the time when you’re trying to lose weight, the daily calorie recommendation will be around 2,000. It doesn’t matter how old you are, height, current weight, body fat percentage, how long you’ve been working out, your activity level, or your favorite color or movie. Why? Every adult man should eat at least that many calories to lose weight in a healthy manner and still create a deficit between calories ingested versus calories burned.
Start there and feel comfortable doing so.
9. Your macronutrient ratio does not need to be exact.
How much protein should I eat to build muscle? Should I totally avoid carbohydrates if I want to lose weight? If I want to lose body fat, I’ll want to avoid fat in my diet, right? I’m sure you’ve had these questions yourself or you’ve heard them asked by someone else, right?
There are many different diet plans that can work for you. You’ll also notice that these diet plans can have big differences in their macronutrient makeup or the amount of protein, carbohydrates, and fat they recommend.
The exact macronutrient ratio between protein, carbohydrates, and fats in your diet is not as important as many older men think. That’s why many different diets, with what appear to be massively different macronutrient breakdowns, can be effective. Don’t let the differences confuse you and prevent you from moving forward. What’s far more important are the number of calories you are eating versus the calories that you are burning every day.
10. You may need to raise your standards.
Some men reading this article might be thinking, “I’m doing all of these things and my body is not improving!” That may be true. What you may need now is to raise the bar.
If you are eating the way you know you should four out of every seven days and still aren’t getting the results you want, you may need to eat the way you should five or six days out of seven.
If you know instinctively that you are burning more calories that you’re eating, you may need to know exactly how many calories that is. You’ll have to track the amount of food you’re eating more closely. You may be eating more food than you realize. You may need to track what you’re eating on a food app for a week or so. Who knows? You could be eating too little food and leave your body needing more to become healthier, but you’ll never know it.
The strategies I outlined are simple and effective. Eating the way you should doesn’t need to be complicated to be effective. What gets complicated for many older men is the mindset that’s needed to succeed. So be positive and do it!