In my practice, it’s very common for women over 40 to seek me out because they want to lose weight and are struggling to do so; their bodies are simply not responding the way that they used to.
Weight loss after 40 can be challenging, but it’s not impossible — it just takes a different focus and approach. Here are some helpful tips I have accumulated from my years of clinical nutrition practice (and from being over 40 myself!).
Increasing muscle density is super important for weight loss after 40. Muscle is active tissue, and the more of it you have, the faster your metabolism is. As we age, women need to work harder to maintain muscle mass. Not only do our hormones change, but we also become more sedentary. Both of these issues lead to lower muscle density and a slower metabolism. The problem of maintaining muscle mass is even further exacerbated by menopause. Do yourself a favour and start resistance training now rather than later. Not only does resistance training improve muscle density, it can also help preserve bone density, improve joint function and health, and correct posture imbalances.
Focus More On Self-Care (And Less On Counting Calories)
Healthy eating after 40 should take on a whole new perspective. Now, more than ever, it’s essential to eat well in order to reduce your risks of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and autoimmune diseases. Focusing on improving your health and vitality by choosing nutrient-rich, whole foods and cutting out refined carbs and processed junk.
Sleep At Least 7 Hours A Night
Getting enough sleep is critical to weight loss success, but by the time we reach our 40s, our lives tend to be very busy and stressful. Too many people sacrifice sleep to try and keep up with the demands. However, a lack of sleep will result in fatigue and hormone imbalances, which increases your hunger; indeed, people who consistently sleep fewer than five hours a night are 15 per cent more likely to become obese. Getting enough sleep is not only a great strategy for weight loss, but it will benefit your overall mental health as well.
Watch Your Carb Intake
After 40, the changes most women experience hormonally make us more susceptible to weight gain, particularly if our blood sugar levels are elevated. Eating fewer refined carbohydrates will help reduce blood sugar spikes and promote a metabolism that can support weight loss. Balance your meals with healthy lean protein sources, loads of vegetables, and a small portion of healthy whole food complex carbohydrate sources such as; whole grains (brown rice, buckwheat, corn, freekeh), quinoa, wild rice, sweet potatoes, beans and legumes.
Have Your Thyroid Checked Regularly
Along with hormonal changes, many lifestyle factors that play into the health and functioning of your thyroid gland can start to catch up with you when you reach your 40s. Your thyroid is responsible for managing many important metabolic processes in your body. If t’s not functioning properly, losing weight can be very difficult. Have your doctor run tests to check your thyroid hormone levels before embarking on any weight loss plan.
Embrace The Body You Have Now
Your body has changed: not just on the outside, but on the inside as well. Your hormones, muscle density, and metabolism are different than they were in your 20s. This is a natural and purposeful process. It’s okay if losing weight takes more time and effort than it once did when you were younger. Understanding this and embracing it is important. We need to appreciate the bodies we have.
Our bodies undergo some amazing and beautiful changes over the years. Nurture the body you have with healthy, whole foods, consistent sleep, and regular exercise. You will be amazed with how much better you look and feel, even as time goes on.