10 Tips For Losing Weight After Turning 40 | Losing Weight After 40: 10 Ways To Drop Pounds And Build Muscle, According To Weight Loss Experts

Entering your 40s is an empowering phase marked by accrued wisdom and life experiences, but it can present challenges in terms of maintaining a healthy weight. The age of 40 often brings about a natural decline in muscle mass, altering body composition and affecting metabolism, according to insights from Keri Peterson, MD, an internal medicine physician and Women’s Health advisor. The decrease in muscle mass can lead to a slower metabolism, resulting in fewer calories burned.

Another factor influencing weight during this stage is menopause, which may start with perimenopause in the 40s. While the full impact may become more apparent in the 50s, hormonal changes during perimenopause can impact weight loss efforts. Dawn Jackson Blatner, RDN, emphasizes that weight gain is more prevalent after turning 40, but effective strategies can still be employed to achieve weight loss goals.

The primary focus for women over 40 should revolve around cultivating habits that support muscle mass development or maintenance. Dr. Peterson advocates for weight lifting and resistance training as the most effective means of boosting metabolism in this age group. Additionally, nutrition, hydration, quality sleep, and stress reduction play crucial roles in achieving weight loss goals, as highlighted by Laura Purdy, MD, a family medicine physician in Nashville, Tennessee. She advises starting with small, achievable steps, paying attention to one’s body, and setting realistic goals based on individual capabilities. These expert-backed tips are not exclusive to those over 40 but are valuable considerations for anyone seeking positive changes in their weight management journey.

1. If you’re new to fitness, start slowly and don’t overdo it.

Getting ready to kickstart a new fitness routine but unsure where to begin? According to Ellen Regenbogen from Ellen Bari Fitness, there are numerous ways to stay active at home. Engage in in-place cardio exercises like high-knees, sidestepping, or jumping jacks. Regenbogen emphasizes the significance of taking the initial step without feeling overwhelmed.

Dr. Purdy recommends incorporating walking and daily stretching into your routine, striving for 30 minutes of movement five times a week. However, it’s crucial to avoid overexercising. Despite your strong commitment to weight loss goals, Mirkin warns against neglecting rest days. Overtraining can backfire, as the body interprets it as a major stressor, leading to a slowdown in metabolism to preserve body fat. Remember, taking breaks is essential for overall well-being, and your body will thank you for it.

2Be sure to incorporate strength training.

Don’t forget the importance of strength training! If you’re new to this, introducing strength training can be as straightforward as using water bottles for biceps curls, arm circles, or lateral extensions, suggests De Bolton, a NASM-certified personal trainer, corrective exercise specialist, and weight-loss specialist at FaithFueled Mom.

Consider adding a total-body strength routine to your existing workout one to two days a week. Alternatively, focus on specific muscle groups. Bolton recommends breaking it up into leg day, back and biceps, chest, shoulder, triceps, and then incorporating cardio and core exercises on the remaining two days. This comprehensive routine covers all bases—building muscle, maintaining cardiovascular health, and enhancing balance and mobility.

3. Eat more protein—and veggies.

Boosting your protein intake can contribute to calorie burning during digestion, according to Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, a nutrition and diabetes expert. While extremely high-protein diets are not promoted, increasing protein intake from 15% to 30% of total calories may enhance the calories burned during digestion. Clinical trials have shown that a high-protein diet aids in weight loss and maintenance, increasing satiety and energy expenditure (Journal of Obesity & Metabolic Syndrome, 2020).

To achieve this, aim for 20 to 30 grams of protein per meal, as recommended by Sarah Mirkin, RDN, author of “Fill Your Plate Lose the Weight.” Distributing protein evenly across meals and incorporating high-protein snacks can help prevent lean muscle protein breakdown, maintaining muscle mass, reducing fat percentage, and supporting a healthy metabolic rate.

Additionally, prioritize fruits and vegetables in your diet. Vegetables, in particular, are low in calories, rich in vitamins and minerals, and high in fiber, contributing to a feeling of fullness. According to Dr. Peterson, increasing fruit and vegetable consumption is consistently associated with weight loss in women (Nutrients, 2020). Making vegetables a focal point of your meals not only enhances nutrient density but can also aid in portion control. By filling half your plate with vegetables, you can reduce the intake of other calorie-dense foods while maintaining satisfaction, ultimately

4. Consider meal timing.

The choices you make in your morning meal can significantly impact your weight loss journey. According to Palinski-Wade, opting for a breakfast rich in lean protein, fiber, and plant-based fats is ideal for curbing hunger and cravings throughout the day. Starting with such a breakfast may lead to reduced calorie intake later in the day.

On the other hand, paying attention to your evening eating habits is crucial. Contrary to the myth that eating at night directly causes weight gain, Palinski-Wade emphasizes that it’s more about the content of your nighttime snacks that can influence weight management. If nighttime snacks consist of calorie-dense and high-sugar foods, setting guidelines on when to stop eating in the evening may accelerate the weight loss process. For instance, avoiding indulgence in calorie-rich options like a bowl of ice cream during late-night hours could contribute to more effective weight management.

5. Eat slowly and mindfully.

Palinski-Wade advises against the temptation to quickly consume that delicious plate of food, whether you’ve just ordered it or cooked it up. Instead, she recommends adopting habits like eating slowly, eliminating distractions during meals, and putting your fork down between bites. These practices can help you tune into your body’s satiety signals, allowing you to stop eating when you feel satisfied.

This approach aligns with scientific insights. According to a 2022 Nutrition Bulletin meta-analysis, some researchers suggest that prolonging the time food spends in your mouth may stimulate the release of gut hormones that reduce appetite.

The fundamental principle is to be attuned to your body. As Mirkin emphasizes, eat when you’re hungry, not when you’re starved, and cease eating when you feel satisfied rather than overly full. She recommends incorporating small, frequent meals that are rich in protein and vegetables, complemented by a modest amount of healthy fats, to evenly fuel your body throughout the day.

6. Try to reduce stress and prioritize sleep.

As women age and juggle work and family responsibilities, stress tends to increase, leading to elevated hormone levels like cortisol, which promote fat storage rather than burning it.

To mitigate stress, Palinski-Wade recommends incorporating daily breathing exercises, especially before bedtime. Another approach is to include foods rich in vitamin C and omega-3 fatty acids in your diet, as these have been shown to reduce circulating stress hormone levels.

Prioritizing quality sleep is essential for stress reduction, but many women in their 40s may struggle with sleep issues, often associated with menopause. Inadequate sleep can contribute to weight gain. Palinski-Wade explains, “When you get less than seven hours of restful sleep, metabolic changes occur that can make it significantly harder to lose weight.” This includes an increase in the appetite hormone ghrelin, a reduction in leptin (which controls hunger cues), and heightened insulin resistance, prompting the body to store fat, especially in response to high-fat and high-sugar foods.

7Stay hydrated.

You’ve likely encountered this advice, but it’s worth emphasizing the importance of staying adequately hydrated for weight loss. Research indicates that increased water intake can help suppress appetite and enhance the breakdown of fat.

While a minimum of 64 ounces (eight cups) of water per day is often recommended, some experts suggest aiming for around 11.5 cups of water daily for women. If you’re engaging in regular exercise, your hydration needs may be higher. Individual factors can also influence your specific water requirements, so setting personalized #hydrationgoals is a good practice.

8. But cut down on soda and alcohol.

“Soda is essentially empty calories from sugar and offers no nutritional value,” warns Palinski-Wade. Research in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity found a direct link between regular soda consumption and weight gain, even in those who exercise regularly.

Beyond weight loss concerns, the health implications of consuming simple sugars are significant. Palinski-Wade explains that sugary drinks can cause spikes in blood sugar and insulin levels, leading to increased fat storage, which becomes more challenging to shed after the age of 40.

Similarly, cutting back on alcohol consumption is advisable for both calorie reduction and long-term health benefits. Evidence suggests that even moderate alcohol intake may counteract the positive effects of weight loss in premenopausal women with obesity. Additionally, Dr. Peterson notes that drinking often leads to poor food choices. While complete elimination may not be necessary, Palinski-Wade suggests limiting alcohol to one day a week to avoid stimulating appetite and prevent overindulgence.

9. Track what you eat using a food diary app.

Individuals who monitor their food intake are generally more successful in weight loss compared to those who don’t, notes Palinski-Wade. The increased awareness of what is being consumed enables better decision-making and moderation in portion sizes.

10. Get support from your friends and family.

A support system can contribute to accountability at any age, according to Dr. Peterson and Palinski-Wade. Family members providing both accountability and support have been shown to influence long-term commitment to a weight loss program, as indicated by a 2022 study. Palinski-Wade emphasizes the ease of adhering to nutritious meals when there isn’t external pressure from family and friends to indulge. If possible, having a friend as a workout buddy can further enhance motivation. Palinski-Wade suggests that the presence of a friend waiting at the gym makes it easier to stay committed to the fitness routine. Even if workouts are not done together, an accountability buddy can be a source of encouragement through text messages, helping to stay on track when motivation is low.

When should you see a doctor about weight loss?

If you have diligently implemented the above measures for at least three months without achieving the desired results, it is advisable to consult with your doctor. According to Dr. Purdy, initiating the conversation during your annual checkups and explaining your concerns and goals can help your doctor devise a plan that is tailored to your specific needs and the changes your body is undergoing.

In case of significant weight gain or a sudden decrease in energy levels, Dr. Purdy recommends scheduling a visit with a healthcare provider to explore potential thyroid issues. The sudden onset of fatigue, mental exhaustion, and a lack of motivation can be indicative of hypothyroidism, a condition where the body fails to produce sufficient thyroid hormone, which may contribute to weight gain.

Dr. Peterson adds that symptoms such as constipation, dry hair and nails, and difficulty staying awake are also worth considering for a thyroid check, and these concerns can be discussed with your general practitioner.

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