Women’s bodies go through intense physical changes after 40.
Some of these changes are due to age, some are due to perimenopause. And experiencing these changes is a normal part of womanhood. But these changes also result in unintentional weight gain, changes in muscle mass, and bone density.
That’s why 2 out of 3 women over 40 are overweight, 44.8% of adults aged 40 to 59 years are overweight, and obesity rates among adults between ages 45 and 74 are the highest.
If you are over 40, and you are consistently gaining weight despite your best effort to lose it, Then chances are you are still trying to lose weight, the same way you did in your 20s.
The truth is you are not in your 20s, and things that used to work for you back then will have little impact on you in your 40s. Your body composition is changing. It’s time for a change of strategy too.
Let’s first go through all the changes that are making you gain weight, followed by a way to embrace them positively So, that you can lose weight even in your 40s.
Changes After 40 That Can Make You Gain Weight
According to a review published by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality in March 2013, As we get older, we tend to gain weight (1-2 lbs per year), even if we don’t increase our calorie intake, or reduce our daily physical activity.
The review concluded that it’s easier to gain weight with age. Moreover, some people are even prone to obesity despite no profound changes in their diet.
Here are all the changes after 40 that can make you gain weight:
1. Unbalanced Calorie Intake
Most people are less active in their 40s, compared to when they were young. But only a handful of people restrict their calorie intake based on their activity level. Moreover, with age, it’s harder to train vigorously.
Less vigorous training means fewer calories burned, which again increases unburned calories in a day.
These unburned calories pile up slowly, making you gain weight over time.
2. Muscle Mass
With age, your body composition will change, and you will start losing muscle mass (mainly due to a dip in the production of hormones like growth hormone, estrogen, and testosterone). On average, a woman can lose up to 6-8% of their muscle mass every ten years after age 40.
Since muscles are more metabolically active than fat, Losing them means that you will burn fewer calories in a day than you used to, which will again make you gain weight over time.
Metabolic rate decreases with age (Each decade by 10% after age 20). So, even if your daily activities don’t change, maintaining your ideal weight with age will only get harder.
Moreover, your resting metabolic rate can also decrease due to low levels of estrogen in your 40s, Since estrogen deficiency promotes metabolic dysfunction.
Perimenopause is the time during which the body starts its transition to menopause (The transitional period that precedes menopause). Most women begin experiencing symptoms of perimenopause after 40. These symptoms are related to menopause and can start eight years before the onset of menopause.
Usually, The menopausal transition begins between ages 45-55 and lasts for 7-14 years. During this time, hormones like estrogen and progesterone vary irregularly, Making it easier to gain weight and harder to lose.
Perimenopause symptoms include changes in body composition, fat storage pattern, bone density, and mood swings.
In one study, researchers followed women through the menopausal transition and found that despite consuming fewer calories on average, women gained fat as they entered menopause, especially in the midsection. Moreover, total energy expenditure also decreased. The study concluded that menopause by itself causes women to gain fat.
Losing Weight After 40
Weight gain is inevitable with age (Unless you take significant steps to manage it).
Moreover, with each passing decade, it’s only going to get harder for you to lose weight. Therefore, your best bet is to lose weight as soon as you can. Since, in the near future, the odds are only going to get stacked against you.
Here’s a four-step guide to lose weight in your 40s:
Step 1. Goal Set-up
The first step to a successful fitness journey is goal set-up.
You need to figure out a goal for yourself before you start doing anything. Your goal can be maintaining your ideal weight, attaining an hourglass physique in your 40s, or you can aim to lose X lbs. The main point is clarity about what you want.
Be precise as much as you can and then, set a deadline for your goal. For instance, I am going to lose 40 lbs in a maximum of 10 months & then I am going to maintain it.
Moreover, make sure your goal is a realistic & healthy goal.
Step 2. Make Lifestyle Adjustments
In this step, you are going to make few lifestyle adjustments. Adjustments that are going to help you in burning excess calories & living a healthy lifestyle.
It’s natural to have less time & interest in exercise with age. But when it’s combined with a reduced exercise intensity due to diminished muscle mass, a metabolism that is slowing down, bad lifestyle choices, & a body going through hormonal changes, Weight gain becomes inevitable & consistent.
The only way to cope with weight gain after 40 is by following a proper diet, an intense exercise routine relative to your age, & by minimizing unhealthy lifestyle choices.
It’s like if you want to look healthy after 40, then you have to live healthily!
For those who are not in the discipline of exercising daily, Don’t worry! You don’t need to go through an intense exercise routine every day to be healthy. All you need to do is add these 5 lifestyle habits to your routine.
These habits will help you in maintaining your weight, managing stress, living your life fully, and burning excess calories.
And even if you are willing to exercise daily to lose weight, you should still consider applying a few of these lifestyle habits to skyrocket your improvement.
Meditation is not going to help you in losing weight, but it will help you in staying focused, in breaking patterns of negative behaviors, in being mindful.
By meditating every day, you will become more conscious of your actions & thoughts. And over time, this small practice will help you in controlling yourself more effectively.
Meditation will also help you in managing negative emotions.
There are several ways to meditate. You can repeat a meaningful word, you can do guided meditation, tai chi, etc. You can practice any form you like.
For those who have never tried meditation, I would recommend concentrative meditation (I do this too). In concentrative meditation, all you need to do is focus on a single object. For instance, focusing on a sound, a body part, your breathing, an object placed near you, etc.
You can sit however you like. The main goal is to empty the mind. For instance, If you are focusing on your breathing, all you are going to do is breathe and feel the air flowing in and out of you. Moreover, resist self-talk.
In the beginning, you may find this practice difficult but in time you will get used to it. The most incredible benefit of this meditation is that after you get used to it, You will be able to control your thoughts to some extent (By consciously focusing on some other thought).
2. 7-8 Hours of Sleep
If your daily routine doesn’t let you have at least 7 hours of naptime, then you should consider readjusting your schedule.
According to a study on the effect of insufficient sleep on overweight adults suggests that having less than 6 hours of sleep while dieting can reduce the amount of weight lost. Another study on the effect of sleep restriction suggests that losing sleep encourages overeating.
Moreover, less sleep will result in low levels of energy, making it difficult for you to stick to your routine. To avoid this, All you need to do is keep a regular sleep schedule (7-8 hours) and stick to it.
If you are trying to find a pleasurable way to burn calories, then Hiking is the thing you are looking for. Apart from having numerous health benefits, Hiking will also help you in toning your lower body & burning hundreds of calories.
Yes, you can’t hike every day, but you can still hit the trail once or twice a month. Moreover, this way, you can consistently break the chain of your repetitive behavior.
Plus, a study in Environmental Science and Technology suggests that individuals who exercise outdoors are more likely to repeat their behavior. It means if you hike once, chances are you will hike again!
Walking is a perfect form of physical exercise for those who haven’t exercised in a long time. Moreover, unlike other exercises, walking can be done any time, anywhere, without any risks.
Benefits of walking (a type of weight-bearing exercise) include:
- Improves pulmonary fitness
- Helps in burning calories
- Improves cardiovascular fitness
- Strengthen your leg muscles
One of the reasons why you are gaining weight is due to a lack of physical activity. Walking may not be as effective as other forms of exercise, but it will surely help you in burning a lot of calories.
In one study, participants were able to lose 17 pounds in 6 months of brisk walking daily (30 minutes a day) without any dietary changes.
All you need to do is walk for at least 1 hour / 10,000 steps every day to burn calories. According to an article published on prevention, Amanda L. of Chambersburg, PA managed to lose 100 pounds just by walking 10,000 every day (She utilized a Fitbit fitness tracker to count her steps)
5. Quit Alcohol
If you are still consuming alcohol, then chances are you will gain weight with age. Since alcohol contains a lot of calories.
The alcohol that has the least amount of calories is Vodka. And Vodka contains 100 calories per shot which is a lot if you are trying to lose weight.
So, you have to quit alcohol!
Moreover, quitting alcohol will also help you in curbing your food cravings. According to a study, overweight people lost more weight just by decreasing alcohol use.
Step 3. Diet Adjustment
Here are two simple facts about weight loss:
- One pound is equal to 3500 calories.
- To lose weight, you must consume fewer calories than you can burn every day.
Suppose you have adjusted your life perfectly. You are even working out 3-4 times a week. But if you are still consuming food more than you should, chances are you will have little to no results.
The thing is when it comes to weight loss, diet is 80% & exercise is 20% of the equation. So, no matter how much work you put in at the end of the day, your diet will dictate your overall progress.
Moreover, there is no way around it. If you keep messing your diet up, you will keep gaining weight.
Choosing a Diet Plan
To lose weight in your 40s, you have to choose a diet and stick with it. Since the diet is 80% of the equation, the better your diet is, the easier it will be for you to lose weight.
You can choose any diet you like but make sure it goes along with your goal.
For those who want to lose weight by creating a calorie deficit, all you need to do is consume fewer calories every day than you usually consume. For example, reducing your calorie intake to around 1500 calories per day.
You can start by cutting 500 calories per day from your diet. A calorie deficit of 500 calories per day is healthy and sustainable. Moreover, To avoid nutrient deficiencies, add fruits & veggies to your meals.
An average woman needs to consume around 2000 calories per day to maintain weight and about 1,500 calories per day to lose one pound per week.
By creating a calorie deficit, you can expect to lose 4+ pounds/month, and if you alter your lifestyle properly, you can expect to lose up to 7-8 lbs in a month.
For those readers who have tried calorie deficit, and yet those stubborn pounds are STILL hanging on for dear life!
You should give a shot to the keto diet.
A Keto diet is a low carb diet with a moderate amount of protein. The diet works by depleting the body of its sugar reserves which result in the breakdown of fats for energy
Molecules called ketones are formed in the body as fuel
When the body burns fat, it results in weight loss. The Effectiveness of the keto diet has been proven in a lot of Studies
A study on the ketogenic diet even suggests that people who followed the keto diet lost 2.2 times more weight than people on a low-calorie and low-fat diet.
Last year (2020), I tried the keto diet & I managed to lose around 24.5 pounds in 47 days. So, I am quite sure of its effectiveness.
And yes, it will work perfectly for you even if you are over 40. On the flip side, You may be surprised to know that keto is considered one of the best diets for adults and seniors due to its unique health benefits.
Moreover, Multiple studies and anecdotal evidence verify the effectiveness of a low-carb and ketogenic diet for fat loss, particularly in the abdominal section, making it a perfect fit for women over 40.
A study (more than 90,000 participants) on postmenopausal women (aged 49-81 years) where researchers assessed the macronutrient composition of their diets suggest that women on the lowest quintile of carbs intake were the least likely to gain weight over the study period (8 years) compared to women who consumed a low-fat diet or a standard diet.
However, even with all these advantages, keto is still restrictive, and to gain any potential benefits from keto, you have to enter ketosis & it’s hard to get into ketosis.
So, here’s an article that can help you get into ketosis within the first 3 days & a list of foods you can consume while following the keto diet
Keep in mind that you will lose weight through the keto diet only if you stay in ketosis. Make sure that you consume an appropriate amount of micro & macronutrients to avoid nutrient deficiencies & side effects of the keto diet.
Here’s an article on How to Start a Keto Diet? & 10 Day Keto Diet Meal Plan For Beginners
Still, the best & fastest way to lose weight with the keto diet is under the guidance of a nutritionist.
If you wish to follow the keto diet, I would recommend you to consult a nutritionist or If you are like me and you consider visiting a nutritionist an unnecessary hassle then you can get a custom keto diet plan from here.
This diet plan will also be tailored to your weight loss goals. Moreover, it will help you in avoiding nutrient deficiencies, maintaining ketosis & in preparing healthy meals.
This custom diet plan will respect your food preferences too and will be created based on the expertise of certified nutritionists, personal trainers, and chefs.
Remember, The Keto diet is a medical diet. Utilizing it for losing weight without the proper guidance of a health expert can lower your results.
Step 4. Add a Daily Workout To Your Routine If Necessary
The lifestyle adjustments mentioned above are more than enough to burn extra calories, but if you want to lose weight even faster, then this workout routine can help you out!
- Monday: Rest
- Tuesday: 10 minutes of skipping + beginner yoga poses
- Wednesday: 30-50 burpees + 50-100 jumping Jacks + 5 min skipping
- Thursday: Rest
- Friday: 30 abs crunches + 30 squats + 30 wall assisted push-ups + 30 jumping jacks + 30 bicep curls
- Saturday: 60 min jog + beginner yoga poses
- Sunday: Rest
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