If your goal is to lose weight in your 40s and beyond, let me reassure you that with a little bit of knowledge and consistency, weight loss after 40 is absolutely achievable (and it’s not as hard as you may think).
While it’s true that as we get older, there are real changes in our bodies that can lead to weight gain – particularly for women since we have perimenopause and menopause to deal with – it is also true that there are simple things we can do to keep our bodies in good shape.
Here are my strategies for weight loss in your 40s and beyond!
1. Prioritise Nutrition (But Don’t Diet!)
We all know that diets don’t work; they can be effective in the short-term, but they lead to temporary weight loss that’s always gained back a few months later.
So instead of going on a new diet, my recommendation is to priortise your nutrition.
The best way to do this is to make sure there are lots of colourful veggies on your plate, and by adding a serving of lean protein to every meal.
Vegetables are packed with fiber, which keeps us fuller for longer without all the calories.
As we age, we begin to process protein less efficiently and need more of it to maintain muscle mass and strength and bone health. This can be as easy as some chicken breast, a boiled egg or two, a piece of fish or some tofu.
2. Portion Control and Mindful Eating
There are certain foods that cause the calories to really add up – such as chocolate, pasta, chips, ice cream and sweets – so portion control is important.
When it comes to meals, you can make portion control easy by filling half your plate with non-starchy veggies, a quarter of your plate with lean protein, and a quarter with carbs like potato, pasta or rice.
If you like to eat sweet treats and other refined carbs (I definitely do), remember that these products are really heavy in calories and really add up. Don’t deprive yourself, but decide how much of these foods you want to eat before you start eating them.
Try not to choose these kinds of foods as snacks, because they’ll only spike your blood sugar and leave you feeling hungrier. Instead let them be a portion-controlled dessert after you’ve had a high fiber, high protein meal.
3. Stay Hydrated
Drink plenty of water and try to limit (or eliminate) other drinks like alcohol and juices. A goal of 3 litres per day is perfect.
Staying hydrated helps us feel fuller, and drinking water helps us to avoid unnecessary calories.
4. Exercise Regularly
Research has linked sitting for long periods of time with a number of health concerns, including obesity, increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, and excess body fat around the waist.
Focus on cardio, like brisk daily walking, as well as strength training 3 times a week.
Strength training is one of our best defenses against the effects of aging, as it offsets the muscle mass we lose as we get older. Strength training also improves bone density, can improve brain health and mood, helps us to reduce fat and optimise our body composition.
It’s also beneficial to increase your NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis), which is basically a fancy way of saying “incidental movement”. It truly does make a difference. You can increase your NEAT by:
- Play with your kids and/or pets
- Standing (switch to a standing desk for work)
- Pacing while on the phone
- Park further away from your destination
- Always take the stairs
- Take the dog for a walk
- Household chores
- Put on some music and swing your hips!
5. Manage Stress
Being constantly stressed leads to your body producing more cortisol, which causes more fat to be stored around your midsection. Reducing stress may seem impossible at times, but there are some small things you can do that will make a difference to your overall stress levels.
There’s a lot of research showing that meditation and mindfulness practises can help. I personally start my day by meditating for 10-15 minutes before opening emails or social media in the morning (I use the Headspace app). During the day I take my lunch outside and leave my phone upstairs.
Stress still comes and goes in my life, but carving out these small pockets of time really makes a difference to the rest of the day.
6. Set Realistic Goals
When you put these lifestyle changes into practise, make sure you’re setting realistic weight loss goals.
Slower weight loss that’s obtained through lifestyle changes you can adhere to are always going to be preferable to quick weight loss on a diet that you can’t maintain.
Aiming for a 1-2 kilogram loss per month, for example, is smart goal. If you’re strength training, keep in mind that muscle weighs more than fat, so don’t give up if the scales don’t budge straight away! You could still be making excellent body composition changes.
7. Get Support
If you have like-minded friends who want to lose weight, do it together! You can meet up for daily walks and encourage each other by exchanging some easy, veggie packed high protein recipes.
Remember that you absolutely can lose weight in your 40s and beyond. Focusing on the above actors really add up for lasting change.
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