As you get older, what you pour into your glass may be the last thing on your mind. However, it's more important than ever to stay hydrated once you age past half a century. According to the Mayo Clinic, older people naturally have a lower volume of water in their bodies, typically because they have a higher percentage of body fat (which contains less water than lean muscle tissue).
Besides fending off dehydration, staying hydrated after 50 is also key if you're trying to get lean.
"Some studies have shown that poor hydration status could be associated with a higher body mass index," says Pankonin. "This might be because people will often confuse thirst for hunger, or choose to hydrate with beverages that contain calories instead of choosing low-calorie or no-calorie options like water."
To stay fit and healthy after 50, think about what you're drinking as much as what you're eating with these simple drinking habits for a leaner body. Read on, and for more on how to eat healthy, don't miss 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.
Drink at least half your weight in ounces of water.
If you want to get lean, know that water plays a big role in the process of breaking down fat. "You've got to stay well-hydrated if you want to lose fat mass!" says Brittany Michels, MS, RDN, LDN, registered dietitian nutritionist for The Vitamin Shoppe.
"Almost all of the body's major systems depend on water to function and thrive," says Michels, adding that lipolysis (the breakdown of fat), specifically, requires water, so being adequately hydrated greatly impacts weight management.
"Without the presence of water it would be impossible to break down fat and lose fat mass," says Michels. "Therefore, we must consume our baseline fluid needs to support a healthy metabolism and obtain a lean body."
"Additional perks of adequate water intake are improved satiety and digestion. If keeping track of intake is difficult, consider buying larger bottles and setting an afternoon alarm to remind yourself to start on the second bottle."
Order the cold brew instead of the latte.
"If you go to your favorite coffee place, a nitro cold brew with a small amount of cream is about 70 calories compared to the vanilla latte or mocha that might have around 400-500 calories," says Pankonin. "This could add up over time, especially if ordering one of these specialty drinks is a daily habit."
Choose non-sugar sweetened beverages.
"Added sugar jumps blood sugar, halts fat metabolism, increases cravings, and negatively impacts mood," says Michels. "If you're unable to meet your water goal, consider supplementing with other non-sugar sweetened beverages, such as citrus spritzer carbonated water or herbal tea."
Limit alcoholic beverages throughout the week.
"Alcoholic beverages can often have more calories than most people realize," says Pankonin. "Alcohol has 7 calories per gram, so it can be very easy to consume more calories than you realize."
Drink 2-3 cups of green tea per day.
"Green tea contains both caffeine and the flavonoid epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which help speed up metabolism and trigger the breakdown of fat molecules," says Michels. "Studies confirm that moderate consumption of green tea may reduce waist circumference, belly fat, and overall body fat mass. If you're not a fan of drinking green tea, consider taking green tea extract or EGCG in capsule form."
Hydrate before, during, and after a workout.
"Proper water intake can help keep muscles hydrated and help with recovery," says Pankonin. "Poor hydration can lead to muscle cramps and weakness which might prevent you from working out or make your workout extremely difficult."
Start each morning with 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar diluted in at least 8 ounces of water.
"Apple cider vinegar contains the compound acetic acid, which has been found in research studies to improve satiety, blood sugar management, and digestion (all supporting weight-loss efforts)," says Michels. "Raw, organic options with the mother provide the most nutrients & benefits. For an added boost: drink another round later in the day."
Sip on low-calorie or calorie-free beverages throughout the day.
"Calorie-free beverages like water or flavored waters with no calories can offer hydration and might help curb cravings for high-calorie foods," says Pankonin. "Drinking water not only helps improve hydration but might also help increase fullness especially when consumed before or with meals."
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