When you were 25, losing weight and staying in shape seemed so easy. Now that you are in your 40’s, 50’s, or 60’s, it seems practically impossible.
When you were young, you could eat pizza, spend a night on the town, then burn it off at the gym the next day. Now those pizza and drinks seems to stick with you forever, and even if you find time for the gym, the weight doesn’t seem to melt off like it used to.
It’s a problem we all experience, but by understanding the changes in your body and making strategic adjustments to meet those changes, you can lose weight when over 40…
Why is Losing Weight When Over 40 So Hard?
Losing weight is a challenge even when we’re young, but as we age, certain changes in our body and our lifestyle can make it more complex and more difficult. Looking at the body, we see that many people struggle with weight loss over the age of 40 because of body composition changes. Studies have shown that fat mass increases and muscle mass decreases as we get older. Although we don’t exactly know why, we do know that our general metabolism, the way we burn calories, slows as we get older. Instead of naturally burning calories, our body puts more in storage, which means belly fat.
But it’s not just our bodies, as our lifestyles often get in the way of weight loss as well. If you are over 40, you have likely found that losing weight can be more difficult because you are busy with children, family, and social commitments, not to mention a growing career. All of these factors make it hard to find the time for exercise, and a busy lifestyle can lead to a poor diet.
For many reasons, it can be difficult to lose weight after the age of 40. However, with the right plan, you can reach your goals for fitness and wellbeing.
To get the best results, you should separate your efforts into three categories: changes for your (1) workouts, (2) diet, and (3) lifestyle. With subtle changes in these three areas, you’ll be feeling healthier and looking better for years!
Losing Weight When Over 40: The Workouts
Add Swimming to Your Routine
Many people over the age of 40 avoid the high-impact exercises that cause pain in the knees, especially jogging and running. Some even avoid riding a bike or even walking. If this is the case for you, consider adding a few swims to your regular routine. Not a confident swimmer? You can always take a lesson or stay near the shallow end until you gain the confidence for a full swim.
Don’t Forget Strength Training
According to a study from Wake Forest University, older adults should add weight training to their exercise routine, not to bulk up, but to slim down. The study found that combining weight training with a low-calorie diet helps preserve and build lean muscle, which can be lost when older adults go through aerobic exercises. The 18-month study looked at obese adults in their 60s and found that weight training brought about less muscle loss and significant fat loss, and appeared to be more effective than simply dieting.
Add Weekly Yoga
An article published in LiveScience says that middle-age (40-59 years old) women have the highest rate of depression among all groups based on age and sex. Unfortunately, this not only impacts your mental health, it can also impact your physical health, as depression has been linked to weight gain and the inability (or difficulty) of losing weight.
One of the best ways to combat depression, and get a great workout, is yoga. This low-impact exercise has a connection to reduced rates of depression, as well as the ability to help individuals lose weight. For many important reasons, yoga appears to be an extremely-beneficial workout.
Losing Weight When Over 40: The Diet and Eating
Add Healthy Fiber to Your Diet
Boosting the amount of fiber in your diet can help you lose weight, according to a study published in the Annal of Internal Medicine suggests that making one simple change, the addition of high-quality fiber, to our diets, can increase weight loss. Aiming for 30-grams of fiber a day could not only help you lose weight, it could lower blood pressure and improve your body’s response to insulin, all of which are important to the health of older adults.
To add good fiber to your diet, include beans, fresh leafy vegetables, and whole-wheat products to your diet.
Add Omega-3 Foods to Your Diet
Omega-3, which is found in salmon, tuna, and mackerel, and other fatty fish, is extremely helpful for losing weight and keeping it off. It’s believed that the benefit from this nutrient may also help reduce hot flashes during menopause, which is an important concern for middle-aged women.
Portion Control Becomes Essential
Because our metabolism is slower when we age, we don’t process food as quickly as we used to. This means that you really need to focus on portion control, because your body simply doesn’t need the high amounts of energy that it did when you were in your twenties. In the past, excess calories were burned at a higher rate, now they are stored mostly around the belly, increasing your weight and waist. Even if you are eating healthy foods, be sure to limit your portions so you’re not overeating.
You Can’t Skip Meals Like You Used To
As we discussed earlier, your metabolism will go through changes as you age, so you can’t abuse it the way you used to. One of the fastest ways to throw off your metabolism is to skip meals, especially breakfast, which basically tells your body that lean times are ahead so we better start storing fat for the future. Skipping meals increases the chances of low blood sugar, which can lead to ravenous overeating. Be sure to eat high-quality meals on a consistent basis, and don’t skip breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Losing Weight When Over 40: The Lifestyle
In our 40’s and 50’s, sleep may be harder to come by. With the demands of a career and a family, getting enough sleep becomes tough. What does this have to do with weight loss? Getting enough sleep has been well-established as an important part of weight loss. This is because sleep impacts how your brain creates and interprets hormones related to hunger. Lack of sleep can lead to fatigue, reducing your motivation for exercise, and can make you more likely to choose unhealthy foods over healthy options, largely because you’re simply too tired to fight the cravings.
Create a Time-Management Plan That Includes Eating Right
One of the greatest challenges to losing weight over 40 is time. Finding time for the gym and time to prepare healthy meals is more difficult now that you have a family and a career, but it’s not impossible. A study from the University of Minnesota found that people who implement time management strategies and “nutrition-related messaging” are more likely to eat healthy foods. Although this specific study focuses on young adults, it does emphasize the importance of time management in your health efforts, which is crucial for people over 40.
Have Your Thyroid Checked
Any woman experiencing trouble losing weight after the age of 40 should consider having her thyroid checked. Women are more likely to develop issues with this gland as they age, and the symptoms can range from fatigue to depression to weight gain. Fortunately, the problem can be fixed with medication, but you have to get checked and discuss the issue with your doctor first.
Keep Your Legs Strong
While overall leg strength, from exercises like squats or lunges, may not seem like a way to melt away the fat, it can be an effective way to burn calories. Perhaps more importantly, it’s a way to maintain strong legs and good balance as you age. If you lose your leg strength by the time you are 60 or 70, you may not be able to exercise as much, which can mean a decline in overall health. Consider leg strength an investment in your healthy future!
Set Small, Reasonable Goals
One of the traps of weight loss is trying to lose too much too quickly. You can’t honestly expect to lose ten pounds a week for a month, at least not in a healthy, sustained manner. Make your goals more reasonable, such as one to two pounds a week. With this goal, you’ll stay motivated and focused, and you’ll be more likely to keep the weight off. Remember, we’re in it for the long haul, so focus on smaller, attainable goals so you can keep the weight off after the age of 40.
With these strategies for workouts, diet, and exercise, you will increase your chances of success. When you strategize your workouts, plan your diet, and make sustained lifestyle changes, you’ll be more likely to shed the pounds and keep them off for the rest of your life. You can lose weight after 40, but it takes knowledge and planning. More than anything, it takes a commitment to being a healthier, happier person, which should be the ultimate goal for any weight loss plan! This is clearly a way to make yourself a “Better You by Design”.