Portion Sizes and Carbohydrates

Portion size is something that a lot of us struggle with. This is mainly because we’ve never really been told what an actual portion size should look like. The massive portions of rice, potato and pasta or huge bread rolls that we get made for us has probably distorted our idea of what we should be eating. To keep it really simple, a standard sized plate should not have a heaped amount of food on it. Ideally, divide your plate into thirds. One third for salads, one third for meats and one third for rice. Drain oil out of main dishes as this really pushes up your calorie intake, and where possible eat more salad then you normally would as it will help lower your calorie intake overall.

 

So what are carbohydrates and why do we need them. Carbohydrates are our main source of energy. We need energy to keep our body running, similar to how a car needs petrol. But, like a car, we can only store a certain amount of energy or petrol at a time. Once the tank is full, petrol starts to leak out. Once our carbohydrate storage centres (muscle and liver) are full, any extra carbohydrate is converted to fat and stored in our fat tissue (our bodies are very resourceful and know that energy is a valuable resource. It doesn’t want to just dump it so it stores it where we have the most storage space – our fat tissue). However, like a car uses up petrol pretty fast, we used up our carbohydrate reserves (scientifically called glycogen) pretty fast which is why it is recommended we have a portion of carbohydrates at each meal.

 

So basically, you need enough energy from carbohydrates to keep your body running but you don’t want too much. But I like carbohydrates you say? I want to eat more you say? Well, thankfully there is a way you can do this…

 

Exercise!! Yes, just like a car uses up petrol and has to be refilled after a journey, your muscles use up carbohydrate when you exercise meaning that in order to refill them you need to eat more carbohydrates! If you aren’t very active then you’re carbohydrate needs are lower. If you eat more than you need then you will put on weight.

 

Yet another reason to get out and get active!

Training in Your 40s and 50s

Many people think reaching their middle years is a time to give up or that their youth has passed and so has their capability to “get fit”. Not true!

Studies conducted by scientists took 2 groups of people, one group was aged 18 to 22 and the other was aged 35 to 50 who followed the same weightlifting routine for 8 weeks.

Subjects were scanned before and after the program and researchers found that both groups had made nearly identical strength and muscle gains. So if you are middle-aged you are physically capable of building muscle, reducing fat and greatly improving your overall health and fitness status. But it is vital to make sure you have a trainer at least for the first month of your fitness regime because as we age our bodies are more susceptible to injuries. So it’s not worth taking a risk if you decide to take back control of your fitness. Keep in mind that muscle recovery also takes a little longer also.

And guess what, your metabolism isn’t going to be a problem.

Research shows that the average adult’s metabolism slows by about 1 to 3% per decade. So if you maintain your muscle, you maintain your metabolism. If you add muscle, you increase your metabolism. If you increase your metabolism then fat will start to shift and give way to a leaner more defined physique.

Why, then, do so many people gain weight as they age?

For most people, the answer is very simple: lifestyle changes. If your diet is high in oil (like most Pakistani diets are), low in fresh fruit and vegetables then your calorific intake will outweigh what your metabolism burns on a daily basis. You need to reign in the calorie intake in order for your metabolism to do its job effectively.

So there’s no excuse not to embrace a new health regime. Age is officially not a factor anymore!