At midlife, you may notice a few changes in your body. You gain age-related weight, your hormones change thanks to perimenopause and menopausal changes, your metabolism rate reduces, and your muscles also get affected.
While that’s normal, these changes make weight loss for women over 40 much harder than before. That’s why you need this guide that explains all the best weight loss plans, tips, and programs available to you. Let’s get started!
What Works For Women Over 40 Weight Loss?
With age comes many factors that affect how the body operates, including losing weight. It’s no longer smooth sailing, mainly due to four reasons. They include:
Hormones affect your body, from metabolism to daily responses, among other things. They’re simply part of the body’s daily cycle. However, when you reach your mid-30s and over 40 years, your hormones contribute significantly to age-related weight gain (3). For example, changes in estrogen in women result in increased visceral fat.
As estrogen levels fluctuate during perimenopause and menopause, your body can respond by creating fat storage in your abdomen. The abdominal fat takes space between your organs, getting thicker and firmer every day, making it difficult to lose weight.
Our genetics can determine how many fat cells we have in our bodies and where they’re stored. Meaning, everyone has a genetic disposition to how they grow and develop, where some of us are more susceptible to becoming obese more than others (5).
As you’ve read above, your estrogen levels will drop, resulting in reduced muscle mass and, eventually, a slower metabolism. As your basal metabolic rate decreases, so does your total energy expenditure. Meaning the less you burn, the more you gain.
To counteract these changes, you’ll have to consume fewer calories and more protein to boost your metabolism. Experts suggest for every ten years you pass, you should eat 60 to 100 fewer calories.
Loss of Muscle
Aging comes with the loss of strength and muscle mass. The difference in muscle strength of people younger than 40 years, in comparison to those older than 40 years, ranges between 16.6% and 40.9% (9).
Many scientists believe this is so due to a reduced number of muscle fibers and motor units and a decline in muscle fiber size (9). Luckily, losing muscle can be counteracted through physical activities that build strength.
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Weight Loss Tips For Women Over 40
As we age, it’s inevitable for your body to change. However, healthy lifestyle changes can help make a difference with losing weight. Below are a few tips you can borrow to help you with your journey.
Eat Your Fruits And Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables should account for half the volume of your meals. Vegetables precisely are highly nutritious, less fatty, and contain fewer calories than carbs and proteins. Fruits, too, are packed with vitamins essential for your body’s well-being.
Together, fruits and vegetables are packed with nutrients and rich in fiber, keeping you fuller for longer. With a lower calorie count, you can attain weight loss.
Consume More Protein
When you eat more protein, the body works harder to metabolize and digest it than when you eat carbs or fat. Meaning, protein has a high thermic effect on food (TEF), and the body actively burns more calories, which contributes to weight loss (1).
For women above 40, a high protein meal or consuming high protein snacks is excellent as this helps prevent the breakdown of your lean muscle into energy. Doing so protects your body mass from decreasing and fat from increasing, ultimately speeding up your metabolic rate.
Cook Healthy Meals
When you actively participate in preparing your meals, you’re more likely to limit the fat and calories added to the food instead of ordering take-out. Cooking healthy meals allows you to bake, broil, or grill rather than deep-frying your foods.
Fried foods have fat content and contribute significantly to weight gain. Therefore, swap out your high fat cooking habits such as deep-frying and try oven-baked options helping cut down the calories you consume.
Choose Polyunsaturated Fats Over Saturated Fats
Fats are essential to our bodies; however, there are three types of fats; saturated, polyunsaturated, and monounsaturated fats. Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated are healthy fats/good fats that contain essential omega-three and omega-six fatty acids. They include oily fish such as salmon, and vegetable oils.
Saturated fats such as those in red meat and whole dairy products contribute to elevated blood lipid levels that lead to heart diseases, among other health issues.
Even though saturated fats aren’t all bad, eating polyunsaturated fats in place of saturated fats reduces harmful LDL cholesterol, improves your cholesterol profile, and lowers triglycerides (11).
Hence, limit your intake of saturated fats as they’re linked to increased visceral fat and risk of heart disease compared to the consumption of poly- and monounsaturated fat.
Don’t Skip Breakfast
Skipping meals, especially breakfast, can seem like a quick and easy plan for losing weight; however, it does more harm than good. Breakfast sets the tone for the day, and provides you with the energy for physical activity and your normal daily functions.
Without breakfast, your body ends up with cravings throughout the day, which only leads you to consume more calories. Take breakfast that’s balanced, rich in fiber, lean protein, adequate carbohydrates, and plant-based fats. That will surely kickstart the day better as you consume fewer calories throughout the day.
Lay Off The Soda And Sugary Beverages
Whether it’s coffee, soda, some specialized tea, soft drinks, or energized beverages, they contain unnecessary sugars that you don’t need. Added sugars encourage weight gains and create and increase your chances of health risks such as diabetes.
To lay off the sugary drinks and sweeteners, opt for water or fresh juice. You could also eat fresh, frozen, canned, or dried fruit if you want something sweet. Lastly, try unsweetened beverages or plain tea or coffee rather than sweetened or specialty drinks.
Cut Back On Alcohol
Alcohol too increases calories in your body, which get stored as visceral fat in the abdomen. Alcohol too can increase your appetite leading you to eat more than you require. Therefore, cut down on drinking beer or switch to wine. Red wine has a high concentration of antioxidants and may have some health benefits, although it still adds calories and should be limited if you want to lose weight (8).
Follow Mindful Eating
Mindful eating is where you take up the active responsibility of eating foods that build and nourish your body without limitations. Previously, there was a notion that getting on a diet is the best way for you to lose weight or achieve a particular body goal.
Unfortunately, that’s not true. Mindful eating works where you’re allowed to consume whatever you want without limitations to curb your cravings, stabilize your appetite and build weight management.
Make Time For Exercise
Your willingness to exercise is what sets you apart. You have to be willing to include exercises in your routine as that’s the best weight loss program for women over 40. It helps to stabilize your weight and improve your overall health. Therefore, make time for what may positively affect you the most, more about this in the next section.
Get A Good Night’s Sleep
After your mid-30s, a lot of things can affect your sleep. From health issues, stress, responsibilities, and even hormones, but that shouldn’t deter you from a good night’s sleep. Quality sleep is essential as it can affect many hormones in your body making it harder for you to lose weight.
For example, your cortisol levels may be higher, not because of stress alone but also due to menopause. Ghrelin, your appetite hormone, can affect how you eat, causing you to feed more than usual, altering your metabolism, and eventually making it significantly harder to lose weight.
Studies show that without enough sleep or during sleep loss, your body experiences dysregulated eating behaviors. Your food intake becomes more significant than your total daily energy expenditure, thus leading to weight gain (7).
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The stress hormone, cortisol, can lead to abdominal obesity, where excess cortisol encourages fat storage around your abdomen. Not only do you have to worry about abdominal adiposity, but because your metabolism is much lower over 40, the side effects of these hormones can be more severe for you.
You will have to adapt to behavioral changes that help you cope with your stress and consume plenty of fruits, vegetables, and fats that help control the cortisol levels in your body.
Get Support From Friends And Family
A support system is crucial if you’re looking to stay motivated. It won’t be easy to follow these weight loss tips for women over 40, probably because you’re already preoccupied with life. However, having family and friends who hold you accountable likely accompany you to the gym, encourage you to eat healthy and nutritious meals, and don’t pressure you; that would be the best thing for you.
The Best Weight Loss Program For Women After 40
Now that you’re aware of the lifestyle changes you should adopt, let’s have a look at weight loss programs for women over 40. These mainly contain exercises you can incorporate into your routines and simple ways to keep you active even at your age.
Get Active With Daily Moderate-Intensity Exercises
Every day, there are a set of activities we do. Whether it’s walking the dog, gardening, strolling around the neighborhood, or doing house chores. These simple activities will help you remain active without much effort. You’ll be incorporating movements into your daily routine, helping to boost your metabolism and maintain body mass.
Here are more tips you can use:
- Take the stairway rather than the lift or escalator.
- Include a power walk in the morning to Jumpstart your day.
- Indulge in moderate-intensity exercises such as biking, hiking, and brisk walking.
At least 30 minutes of brisk walking every day of the week is sufficient. What’s more. After you have mastered these moderate movements, you can level up to high-intensity exercises such as running or jogging.
Use Targeted Exercises To Build Muscle
Studies show that even though your body is active daily, you may not experience weight loss. Age-related weight gain will occur even among the most active individuals, especially when exercise is constant (10).
However, you can counteract weight gain caused by aging. The trick is to use targeted exercises to build muscle, resulting in the best weight loss for women over 40. Building muscle protects the body from gaining weight because your body burns more calories to keep you metabolically active and strong to sustain your daily activities.
Examples of vigorous exercises you can incorporate include:
- Female weight lifting. Strength-training exercises such as weight-assisted squats and push-ups help to build more muscle and reduce fat deposits. Do them at least twice a week.
- High-intensity interval training. HIIT workouts such as Tabata and cardio exercises are metabolic conditioning activities that not only push you past your limit but burn much more calories than moderate-intensity exercises.
- Circuit training. It involves compounded movements that target every muscle in the body from the glutes, biceps, triceps, abs, and many more. Multiple joint exercises keep the heart rate elevated and the body strengthened, building endurance and body composition. Such functional circuit training can positively affect the quality of life for overweight women (6).
As you indulge in these strength training and muscle-building exercises, incorporate more time into your workout routine. You can also add the frequency of these exercises from twice a week to every other day.
Track the changes on your body to see if they work for you. Don’t push yourself too much as vigorous activities can cause injuries to your body, especially those vulnerable such as those with osteoporosis.
Swimming can burn up to 500 calories an hour at a leisure pace, with an extra 200 calories burnt if it’s fast-paced, regardless of weight. Because swimming is a low-impact exercise, it will be one of the best weight loss plans for women over 40 because it doesn’t need much effort. Your chances of injury are minimal, and you can swim as many times a day or week as you’d like.
Furthermore, if you’re not a fan of swimming, you can try other water-based sports such as paddle boarding. That, too, can burn over 800 calories an hour with stand-up paddle surfing, shooting up to 1000 calories if you’re SUP racing.
Add Yoga To Your Routine
One of the most beneficial yet straightforward exercises you can do even over 40 is yoga. Yoga helps to burn appropriately 400 calories every hour. It’s low impact and can have many benefits to your body, including toning your muscles, supporting your bones, and working best for those with osteoporosis-related fractures.
Luckily, there are many types of yoga you can try, including; Vinyasa yoga, Hatha yoga, Iyengar yoga, Kundalini yoga, Ashtanga yoga, and Bikram yoga.
Try A Personalized Workout Schedule
A good workout schedule has many benefits. Not only do you get to personalize your workouts based on your intended goals, but you remain motivated. A plan helps you follow a routine where it’s easier to track your results and change what doesn’t work for you.
Moreover, you have control over your movements which is safe for those with bone-related problems. You can prevent an injury or work against a problem leading to incredible outcomes. For a personalized schedule, you can use a mobile app such as Aptiv. They’re simple and straightforward.
Weight loss for women over 40 can be a daunting task. The work and dedication you have to put forth are much more excellent than what you did before. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
Depending on your body’s structure, hormones, and metabolic rate, there are a few changes you can incorporate into your daily life. Adopt a healthy lifestyle where you sleep better, eat healthier, cope with your stress, and indulge in exercise to achieve your desired goals.
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This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- A high-protein diet for reducing body fat (2014, ncbi.nih.gov)
- Abdominal fat accumulation prevented by unsaturated fat (2014, sciencedaily.com)
- Association of Mid-Life Changes in Body Size (2016, mdpi.com)
- Body composition changes with aging (2010, sciencedirect.com)
- Exploring genetic susceptibility to obesity through genome functional pathway analysis (2017, onlinelibrary.wiley.com)
- Functional High-Intensity Circuit Training Improves Body Composition (2017, frontiers.org)
- Impact of insufficient sleep on total daily energy expenditure, food intake, and weight gain (2013, ncbi.nih.gov)
- Red wine consumption increases antioxidant status and decreases oxidative stress in the circulation of both young and old humans (2000, pubmed.ncbi.nih.gov)
- Strength and muscle mass loss with age (2014, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- The effects of changing exercise levels on weight and age-related weight gain (2005, nature.com)
- The truth about fats: the good, the bad, and the in-between (2019, health.harvard.edu)
- Yoga is as good as stretching (2015, academic.oup.com)