Things you must do to lose weight over 40
Starting in your 40s, it's easier than ever for the pounds to creep on — and tougher to take them off. Thanks to a slowing metabolism you could be burning 300 fewer calories per day than you did in your early 20s, according to the American Council on Exercise. What's more, falling estrogen levels during perimenopause and menopause (which begin in your early 40s) can cause insulin sensitivity, which makes it harder for your body to control the amount of sugar in your blood. This can make your blood sugar levels more prone to spiking and crashing, which can increase your urge to snack — especially on high-carb, sugary junk.
Remember the golden rules of weight loss.
Sure, some things change after 40. But the basics of successful weight loss stay the same, no matter how old you are. Before you take steps to age proof your diet plan, it's a good idea to brush up on the basics.
You need to eat less. If you don't cut back on your portions, you won't lose weight. Everyone's calorie needs are different, but in general, a woman eating 2,000 calories per day should aim to cut back by 400 to 500 calories
You should aim to lose 1 to 2 pounds per week. Those drop-a-dress-size-in-a-week plans are tempting. But the slow and steady approach is more sustainable since you're more likely to build healthy habits (like exercising more and eating more veggies) that will help you stay leaner in the long term.
Skipping meals will mess with your metabolism. When you skip breakfast or dinner, it tells your body to hoard away calories instead of burning them. Skipping meals also increases the chances that your blood sugar will crash, leaving you ravenous for a quick energy hit in the form of sugary carbs.
In a perfect world each meal and snack should have:
- Vegetables or fruit: Fill half of your plate with these. They're high in fibre and water, so they'll take up lots of space in your stomach without contributing too many calories to your diet.
- Lean protein: Your plate should have a serving that’s about the size of your palm. Good sources include Greek yoghurt, eggs, chicken, and fish.
- Complex carbohydrates: Your plate should have a serving that’s the size of your closed fist. Whole grains, beans, fresh fruit, and starchy veggies (like sweet potatoes) are all good choices.
- Healthy fats: These can add up quickly when you're trying to lose weight, so it's worth measuring your fats. Aim for 7 to 10 grams every time you eat. That’s 1½ tsp of olive oil, a quarter of an avocado, or two tablespoons of nuts or seeds.
It's hard to lose weight through diet alone, especially after 40, when hormones like testosterone tend to dip. As a result, muscle mass, along with the numbers of calories your body burns during exercise starts to decrease.
Getting the recommended 30 minutes of daily activity is a good start, but now's the time to ramp things up even more by also working in at least 10,000 daily steps. Adding in a minimum of three resistance training sessions a week can help you maintain your muscle mass and burn even more calories. A 30-minute session of weights and cardio intense exercises is great for building muscle mass and increasing bone density.
If your progress starts to stall, consider switching up parts of your diet or fitness plan. "Our bodies like a challenge”!