If you’re over 40 and trying to lose weight, you may have noticed that it’s a lot harder than when you were in your 20s. All of a sudden, the same things that worked for you when you were younger, whether it was diet or exercise, don’t seem to be as effective.
As you get older, your body goes through changes. Hormone levels start to fluctuate, affecting your metabolism and decreasing muscle mass. But this doesn’t mean that you’re condemned to live with those extra pounds for the rest of your life.
Nutrition, physical activity, stress, sleep, etc. still affect your weight loss journey. With the right strategies in place, you can still lose weight after 40.
How to lose weight after 40: 8 tips
1. Calculate how many calories you need
An important first step to weight loss is understanding the concept of burning calories. As you eat, you take in calories. And as you move your body through exercise, walking, or even breathing, you burn calories. The key to losing weight is burning more calories than you ingest.
You can figure out how many calories you need to maintain or lose weight based on your age, height, current weight, and activity levels. Then you can adjust your diet and exercise plans accordingly.
2. Adjust your eating habits
Your metabolism tends to slow down after you turn 40, and it is important to adjust your eating habits accordingly:
- Opt for foods that are filling and nutritious rather than fried, sugary, or fatty, since these are sources of empty calories and can cause blood sugar spikes.
- Green, leafy vegetables, fibrous foods, and protein will leave you satiated and reduce the likelihood of overeating.
- If you have a sweet tooth, try halving your snack portions and saving the other half for later. Avoid artificial sweeteners, as these aren’t the healthiest options and may not even satisfy your sugar cravings anyway.
3. Match your meals to your energy needs
When your metabolism is revved up in the morning and you need energy to fuel your day, have a hearty breakfast of oatmeal, eggs, or lean meats on whole bread. This can keep you satisfied until lunchtime and help you resist the urge to snack in between meals. Since you don’t need as much energy at night, opt for a light, low-carb dinner.
4. Exercise regularly
At age 40, muscle mass starts to decrease, and muscle helps you to burn calories. Strength training combined with a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) program can help you maintain and build muscle as well as shed pounds. You can also try weight lifting, cardio machines, pilates, and tons of other exercises depending on your lifestyle and preferences.
5. Get a good night’s sleep
Sleep becomes more elusive with age. Sometimes, it’s because being in your 40s means more responsibilities and more stress. Other times it’s because of injuries or chronic pain.
Lack of sleep is directly connected to weight gain because of the actions of two hormones, leptin and ghrelin, which control hunger and satiety. The more quality sleep we get, the more we rev up our inner fat-burning engines and help our muscles recover after exercise.
6. Rule out metabolic conditions
For some people, weight gain or the inability to lose weight may be caused by thyroid problems, which tend to show up in 1 out of 5 adults over the age of 40.
Hypothyroidism, where the tiny gland that produces certain hormones is underactive, can throw your metabolism out of whack. If you have concerns about your thyroid, talk to your doctor about your treatment options.
7. Reduce stress
Stress can wreak a lot of havoc on your body. It can also cause you to stress-eat (often unhealthy foods). Find ways to reduce stress, whether it’s through meditation or breathing exercises. Meditation can also make you more mindful of your eating habits.
8. Be patient and realistic
Like anything, losing weight after 40 takes time. Don’t be discouraged if you aren’t getting instant results. Take small steps, set realistic goals, and make tangible changes to your lifestyle that are sustainable.
Cutting out all sugar and running five miles a day might get you thin faster, but if you’re miserable doing it, chances are you will quit before making any progress. Allow yourself to enjoy foods that you like now and again, and don’t overdo your workouts. Slowly, but surely, you will see a change, both in your weight journey and your overall health.
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WebMD. 14 Ways to Shed Pounds After 40. https://www.webmd.com/diet/ss/slideshow-lose-weight-after-40
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