How to Lose Weight After 40
Many women are affected by age-related weight, despite their best efforts to eat healthily and exercise. Most blame it on the slower metabolism related to reaching middle-age years. It seems hopeless, right?
Well, hope is not lost. Weight loss after 40 is possible, but you will need to approach it differently. Continue reading, as you might be pleasantly surprised to understand the important pillars of weight management.
But first, let’s start by talking about why you gain weight after a certain age.
Why You Gain Weight After 40
Muscle loss starts as early as your 30s and continues at a rate of 3-5% with every passing decade.
Why does muscle loss matter in terms of weight gain?
It matters because muscle burns more calories than fat. The less muscle you have, the fewer calories you burn throughout the day. As a result, you will need to eat less or exercise more to keep the same weight.
In other words, building muscle mass can improve your metabolic rate, making weight loss after 40 easier.
Changes in Activity Levels
Another key factor in age-related weight gain is a decrease in physical activity levels. Many women’s exercise habits decline as life becomes busy and priority is given to kids, work, and other daily activities.
As menopause approaches, your body produces more of the hormone cortisol.
The problem with having too much cortisol is that it results in more fat storage and the use of muscle energy, further slowing down the metabolism.
This stress hormone can also cause what is often known as stress belly – the fat around the abdomen.
Getting insufficient sleep or poor quality sleep can have a significant impact on your weight.
Not sleeping enough can change how your brain reacts to junk food.
When you don’t sleep enough, you tend to eat more sugar-loaded foods and more processed carbohydrates, such as chips, cookies, and bread.
What’s more, lack of sleep also changes the normal function of the hormones that regulate your appetite and satiety.
Perimenopause-Related Stress & Mood Fluctuations
Let’s not forget that women in midlife can have significant anxiety and volatile mood swings. These problems are frequently paired with poor eating habits, including stress eating.
Depression and stress can also increase the body’s response to biological processes. This creates a hormonal imbalance that can further cause weight gain.
Changes in Eating and Drinking Habits
Unhealthy eating is the most significant factor in weight gain at any age. Perhaps you haven’t noticed but is probable that you have changed your eating habits.
Maybe you are drinking an extra glass of wine, eating a bit more every day, or eating sweets regularly. Unfortunately, increasing your portion sizes a little bit daily will result in extra weight gain over time.
How to Lose Weight After 40
Many women have a healthy weight in their forties and fifties, it is possible. However, it takes a different approach. It is possible that what used to work for you does not work anymore.
Let’s review the components of weight loss after 40.
Eat a Well-Balanced Diet
Healthy eating is the most important contributor to weight loss.
Losing weight in your 40s is easier if you follow a well-balanced diet. This means eating enough protein, healthy fats, complex carbohydrates, and plenty of vegetables and fruits.
Protein is necessary for adequate hormone production, including those that regulate hunger and appetite. A general rule is to eat 20 to 30 grams of protein per meal.
Complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, legumes, and fruits are important for overall health. Not only are they loaded with beneficial vitamins and minerals, but they also provide important fiber. Eating fiber makes you feel fuller for longer.
Finally, eating too much sugar can have a powerful negative impact on hormone balance. For that reason, limiting added sugars is important. Because sugar is relatively high in calories, it takes only a little to make up that very small percentage.
Nutrition is highly individualized, so you need to find the approach that works best for your body and your lifestyle.
Build Lean Muscle
The obvious action to take to increase muscle mass is to exercise.
Does this mean you need to lift weights? Well, weight lifting is one quick way to work your muscles. However, there are many other g types of exercise you can do.
For example, yoga can help you build muscle, but to be effective, it should be challenging. Power yoga, ashtanga, and vinyasa are varieties of yoga that help you build muscle.
Pilates is another great way to increase muscle strength and tone.
For weight loss, muscle-building workouts should also be combined with aerobic exercise and stretching.
Experts recommend a minimum of 180 minutes of weekly physical activity to be healthy. However, for weight loss, the recommendation is to work out 60 minutes a day, most days of the week.
Whatever you choose to do, create an exercise routine that is sustainable in the long run. There is no way around exercising regularly.
It’s amazing what a good night’s sleep can do for you. First, it can help you curb sugar cravings and balance your hormones that regulate hunger and appetite.
Second, it can help you manage your cortisol level, which is related to weight gain.
Third, as you will feel more energetic after a good night’s sleep, you will be more likely to exercise.
Getting enough sleep is key to weight loss after 40.
Balance Your Hormones
It is normal to have a hormone in your 40s and 50s, especially if you are a woman. However, your lifestyle can help you balance your hormones to minimize the symptoms and improve the quality of your amazing life.
It is not surprising that the same lifestyle factors help you lose weight and balance your hormones. This includes:
One way to balance your hormones is to reduce stress and anxiety. Stress can have an astonishing impact on your hormone balance.
Consuming a well-balanced diet that includes protein and fat is essential for hormone balance.
Managing Your Weight
Being overweight can disrupt the signals your body sends to manage feelings of hunger and fullness. Leptin – the body’s appetite suppressor – is higher in slim people and lower in fat people.
Beyond providing extra empty calories and disturbing sleep, alcohol can also influence cortisol levels. Then imbalanced cortisol disturbs sleep, stress, and eating.
To regulate mood and manage stress, it’s helpful to exercise, move more, eat a well-balanced diet, sleep well, and balance your hormones.
Other ways to help reduce stress levels include meditation, traditional therapy, and alternative therapies. Even something as simple as stopping and taking deep breaths for a minute can help you reduce your anxiety.
Weight loss after 40 looks different from weight loss in your 20s. Beyond healthy eating and physical activity, other factors play an important role.
You got this! You can look and feel the way you want to.
Dr. Su-Nui Escobar, a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist in Miami, FL, is dedicated to empowering women in perimenopause and menopause to live healthier, more satisfying lives.
With a doctorate in clinical nutrition from the University of North Florida, she has expertise in menopause and weight loss, including the unique challenges faced by those on weight loss medications.
Su-Nui’s passion for her field is evident in her previous role as the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokesperson.