London: Skipping dessert, laying off meat and cheese, and eating more fruits and eating more vegetables are the three simple rules over-50s women should follow to help them slim down, researchers say.
Losing weight can be especially tricky for post-menopausal women as they face a natural decline in energy levels, but simply reducing the number of calories consumed has poor long-term results as dieters cannot sustain their motivation and pile the pounds back on.
According to ABC News, study leader Dr Bethany Barone Gibbs, from the University of Pittsburgh, said that a number of factors work against a dieter.
“Not only does motivation decrease after you start losing weight, there are physiological changes, including a decreased resting metabolic rate. Appetite-related hormones increase,” the Daily Mail quoted her as saying.
“Researchers studying the brain are now finding that you have enhanced rewards and increased motivation to eat when you’ve lost weight,” she said.
For the study, the researchers studied nearly 500 post-menopausal women to see if changes in eating particular foods could make a difference to maintaining weight loss at six months and four years.
They found that the eating behaviours associated with weight loss at six months were eating fewer desserts and fried foods, drinking fewer sugar-sweetened beverages, and eating at restaurants less.
However, at four years, just eating fewer desserts and drinking fewer sweet beverages continued to be associated with weight loss or maintenance.
Meanwhile eating more fruits and vegetables and less meat and cheese emerged as long-term ways of controlling weight.
Eating at restaurants declined at four years whether or not subjects lost weight, perhaps due to economic factors not relevant to the study.
Dr Barone Gibbs said eating fewer fried foods may not be sustainable for the long term.
“People are so motivated when they start a weight loss program. You can say, “I’m never going to eat another piece of pie,” and you see the pounds coming off,” she said.
“Eating fruits and vegetables may not make as big a difference in your caloric intake. But that small change can build up and give you a better long-term result, because it’s not as hard to do as giving up French fries forever,” Dr Barone Gibbs said.
The study has been published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.