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6 tips to lose weight, build muscle and reset your body in middle age

The authors of a new book say weight gain as you age is not something you have to accept.

When Stephen Perrine, an editor at AARP the Magazine and co-author Heidi Skolnik wrote "The Whole Body Reset: Your Weight-Loss Plan for a Flat Belly, Optimum Health & a Body You’ll Love at Midlife and Beyond" they set out to dispel myths surrounding aging, nutrition and metabolism.

"At AARP what we hear from our members is, I used to be thin, now I’m not, what’s going on?" Perrine told TODAY. "I’m exercising the same, eating the same and I keep gaining weight! And that’s what we set out to find out when writing this book."

Perrine and Skolnik said that metabolism doesn’t slow down as we age. "But after the age of 30, we lose muscle mass in our bodies," said Perrine. "That’s why we need to focus on when and how we are eating protein which can really help anyone in midlife and beyond."

Here are the authors' six tips for getting healthy, staying slim and flipping the script on the stereotypes that say we're predestined to gain weight as we age.

Plan out your protein

Protein helps with satiety and can help with weight loss. Older adults require more of it in their diets. If your typical breakfast is oatmeal, it's a healthy choice but with a few tweaks you can add more protein. Skolnik says that it's not about eating a high protein diet, but rather about the distribution of protein.

For example, an easy way to add protein to oatmeal is to cook the oats in milk, says Skolnik. "We can’t say enough about the nutritional power of hemp seeds, which provide not only a remarkable amount of protein but monounsaturated fatty acids as well," she says.

Here's how to change up your breakfast:

Milky Oats with Strawberries, Hemp Seeds, and Peanut Butter

(Gluten-free, vegetarian)


1 cup 1% milk

 ½ cup oats

 ½ cup strawberries, sliced

 2 tablespoons hemp seeds 

 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon peanut butter 


1. In a medium pot, bring the milk to almost boiling over medium-high heat. Add the oats. 

2. Stir constantly until the oatmeal has absorbed most of the milk, about 5 minutes.

3. Add the strawberries, hemp seeds and peanut butter and mix all ingredients together well. 

Related: It’s hard to lose weight. A doctor shares 6 essential tips to make it easier

Lean into dairy

While some diets eliminate dairy, Perrine and Skolnik say that it's beneficial. "Incorporating more dairy is a great way of getting protein into your diet," says Perrine. "Dairy has essential nutrients we need more as we get older. It’s a great source of calcium that we need for our bones and even if you are lactose intolerant we have ideas and examples in the book to show you great alternatives."  

Eat colorful fruits and veggies and snacks

Fruits and vegetables including berries, broccoli, carrots, red pepper, lemon and lime should be staples of your diet.

Aim for 5 grams of fiber 

 "Try to get 5 grams of fiber at every meal," says Perrine. You can make any meal high fiber by adding in all those fruits, veggies and wholegrains.

"Fiber is great for gut health," says Perrine. Not only can it help you lose weight, it may help you live longer, too.

Enjoy more healthy fats 

"Fats can really be helpful for muscle and help us feel more full and satiated," says Skolnik. "Choose healthier fats like olive oil, nuts and avocado and make sure to include healthy fats in every meal." 

The belief that fat is the enemy is outdated. "Low fat is not the way to go," she says.

Don’t drink your calories or chemicals

"The average American adult does not drink enough water," says Perrine. "When we say drink more we do not mean diet soda beverages," he says, adding that those have been shown to increase hunger and obesity. "Soda is filled with sugar," he says. "Drink more water not soda or high caloric drinks."