Have you recently gained weight? Want to get your body back? Fortunately, it’s never too late to lose those extra pounds. As you age, your metabolism slows down. This means your body uses less energy for fuel. Even if you work out and eat well, you can still gain weight.
Weight loss for women
The key to fighting the bulge is to boost your metabolism. Certain foods and exercises can turn your body into a fat-burning machine. It all comes down to what you eat and how you train.
This handy guide will show you how to get fit after 40 and regain your energy. You’ll learn the exact steps needed to torch stubborn fat and slim down. Aging doesn’t have to equal weight gain. It’s in your power to build a perfect body, regardless of your age and fitness level.
Why Do Women Gain Weight after 40?
As you walk on the street, take a look around you. How many women in their 40s are slim and fit? Most likely, you will see just a few. For most ladies, weight gain is a normal part of the aging process. Men can’t escape the middle-age spread either – they are also prone to weight gain as they age. A sluggish metabolism, hormonal changes, stress, and insulin resistance are the culprit behind this issue.
Let’s take stress, for instance. When you’re young, your body is more resilient to stress. Daily worries and sleep deprivation don’t affect you as much as they do when you’re in your 40s or 50s.
Additionally, young people have higher testosterone levels, which keeps them from gaining weight. As you age, your testosterone production drops. Stress lowers your T levels even further. This leads to weight gain and affects your metabolism. Moreover, it weakens immune function and messes up your hormones.
Another common cause of weight after 40 is the decrease in progesterone levels. As women enter menopause, their bodies produce this hormone in smaller amounts. This causes bloating and fluid retention, adding inches to your waistline. On top of that, the increase in cortisol levels triggers hunger and unhealthy food cravings.
After the age of 40, your body goes through major changes. Your hormones fluctuate from one day to the next, and your metabolic rate drops. This affects your body composition and promotes fat storage. A woman in her 40s has a very different body to the one she had 10 years earlier. Thus, the rules of self-care change.
When you’re young, the extra pounds magically disappear just by cutting back on sugar or exercising more. As time goes by, losing fat becomes harder. You can eat clean, work out daily, and take diet pills – with little or no results. Additionally, your muscle tone decreases and you begin to store fat on the waist and hips.
Before getting further, let’s see what causes these changes in metabolism and body composition:
- Hormonal fluctuations
- Insulin resistance
- Chronic or prolonged stress
- Thyroid disorders
- Unbalanced gut flora
- Reduced levels of progesterone
- Low testosterone and growth hormone levels
- Increased appetite
- Poor eating habits
- Lack of physical activity
- Certain medications, such as corticosteroids and anti-depressants
- Sleep deprivation
- Medical conditions (diabetes, hypothyroidism, metabolic syndrome, etc.)
The only way to lose weight after 40 is to address these changes. For instance, if you have insulin resistance, ditch the sugar and simple carbs. Load up on protein and healthy fats, lift weights, and exercise at high intensity. These simple tricks will boost your metabolism and improve insulin response.
Let’s take strength training. Lifting weights has been shown to improve muscle quality and glycemic control. On top of that, it helps build and preserve lean mass, burns fat, and increases resting metabolic rate.
Researchers have found that strength training on its own can significantly enhance insulin sensitivity and glucose uptake. In clinical trials, diabetic subjects who lifted weights twice a week for 16 weeks experienced a decrease in insulin resistance, blood sugar levels, and abdominal fat.
As you see, it’s possible to fight and prevent weight gain after 40. It won’t be easy, but it’s worth the effort. Even the slightest weight loss can boost your confidence and overall health.
How Much Weight Can You Gain after 40?
Believe it or not, most people gain weight in their 40s. Statistics show that the average woman goes from 162 to 170 pounds before reaching age 30. The average man goes from 185 to 200 pounds over the same period.
According to experts, it’s not unusual to gain up to two pounds a year after age 30. Besides aging, this issue is due to lack of exercise, bad eating, and stress. For example, most people in their 40s would prefer to spend an hour playing with their kids rather than hitting the gym. Heavy workload, long commutes, and poor sleep contribute to weight gain.
Why Lose Weight in Your 40s?
As your weight goes up, so does your risk of chronic illnesses. Weight gain has been linked to heart disease, high blood pressure, hypercholesterolemia, diabetes, osteoporosis, fatty liver disease, gallbladder disease, and even cancer. It may also result in breathing problems, depression, and stroke. According to science, even minor weight gain could cause heart failure.
The good news is that you can prevent these problems just by losing a few pounds. With a five or 10 percent weight loss, blood sugar gets under control. This lowers your risk of type II diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and insulin resistance. Losing up to 10 percent of your body weight will result in decreased blood pressure, improved lipid profile, and better cardiovascular health.
Once you shed those pesky pounds, you’ll have a more restful sleep. Weight loss decreases your risk of obstructive sleep apnea, a condition linked to diabetes and heart disease.
Moreover, your joints will get healthier and your risk of osteoporosis will drop. Studies indicate that overweight women are four times more likely to develop osteoarthritis. The risk is five times higher for overweight men. Researchers have found that each pound lose relieves four pounds of pressure on the knees. Losing 11 pounds can reduce the risk of osteoarthritis by half!
Weight loss has been also linked to a lower risk of cancer. Surprisingly, one in five of cancer-related deaths is due to obesity and overweight.
Losing just a few pounds can reduce your risk of breast, kidney, colon, and endometrial cancer. According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, a five-pound weight loss could lower breast cancer risk by up to 50 percent.
Now that you know why it’s so important to lose weight, let’s see what you can do about it! With a little effort, you can drop as much as five pounds in just 10 days.
Strength Training Is a Must
The first step to losing weight is to tweak your workout plan. Cut back on cardio and go heavy in the gym. Strength training builds muscle and torches fat, leading to an improved body composition. It also increases bone density, which in turn, protects against osteoporosis.
On top of that, weight lifting boosts your metabolism, so you’ll burn more calories at rest. At the same time, it increases testosterone and growth hormone levels, which makes it easier to lose weight and keep it off.
For best results, hit the gym at least four times a week. Train one or two muscle groups per session, such as:
- Monday: Chest and biceps
- Tuesday: Legs
- Wednesday: Off
- Thursday: Back and triceps
- Friday: Shoulders and abs
- Saturday: Off
- Sunday: High-intensity cardio or HIIT plus ab training (optional)
Never train the same muscle group more than once every 72 hours. Let’s say you want toned arms. Training your arms daily won’t get you closer to your goal. It can actually stall your progress and cause DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). Work your arms once or twice a week. Complete three to four exercises of 8-15 reps each.
What Causes Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)?
- Increasing exercise intensity or load may increase your risk of developing delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), which may appear 12 to 36 hours after your workout
- DOMS may be triggered by microtears in the muscles that release chemical irritants, triggering pain and discomfort in the nerve endings in your connective tissue
- Once damaged, reducing pain using natural strategies does not mean the muscle has healed; natural strategies include ginger, astaxanthin and curcumin. You may also reduce stiffness and improve flexibility using a foam roller
The combination of early year resolutions and thinking about shorts and bathing suit weather may be responsible for delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) as you boost your exercise program or start a new one.
Research demonstrates exercise does more than tone your muscles and helps you fit into your clothes with greater ease. It also helps you build a neurological system and brain that resists shrinkage as you age, and improves your cognitive abilities.1 A long-term investment in regular exercise helps improve your mood and prevent depression.2
Exercise helps boost your metabolism, helps you to maintain your weight and prevent chronic illnesses, such as cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. However, while exercise has a significant number of benefits, those benefits are not permanent.
Replace Cardio with HIIT
Depending on your schedule, do HIIT after strength training or on your off days. High-intensity interval training improves body composition aka your muscle-to-fat ratio. It also sends your metabolism into overdrive, so you’ll burn calories long after finishing your workout.
When you’re short on time, swap HIIT for Tabata. This training method involves performing high-intensity exercises for up to four minutes. For instance, you can do:
- Mountain climbers (20 seconds)
- Rest (10 seconds)
- Partial push-ups (20 seconds)
- Rest (10 seconds)
- Plank jacks (20 seconds)
- Rest (10 seconds)
- Mountain climbers (20 seconds)
- Rest (10 seconds)
- High knees (20 seconds)
- Rest (10 seconds)
- Push-ups (20 seconds), etc.
The key is to alternate between high-intensity training and rest. This approach speeds up your metabolism and ignites fat burning without causing muscle loss. Minute per minute, it’s more effective for weight loss than steady state cardio. No matter how busy you are, you can work out for four minutes. If you do HIIT, stick to 10-15 minutes per session. It’s more than enough to torch fat and maintain your figure.
Wonder what’s wrong with cardio? Well, it burns both muscle and fat. Additionally, it raises the stress hormone cortisol and lowers testosterone levels. When you’re in your 40s, your T levels are already low, which increases the risk of weight gain.
On top of that, steady state cardio increases your appetite and puts stress on your joints. HIIT and Tabata combined with strength training have none of these side effects.
Boost Your Testosterone Levels
Just because you’re a woman, it doesn’t mean you don’t need testosterone. This hormone influences your weight and metabolism. Besides lifting weights, you can boost your T levels by eating more fats and protein.
Nuts, seeds, coconut oil, olive oil, sardines, salmon, mackerel, and avocado should come first in your diet. Loaded with omega-3s, these foods restore hormone balance and increase testosterone levels. They also fill you up quickly and boost your energy, so you’ll eat less without even realizing it.
Speed Up Your Metabolism
A fast metabolism is the key to weight loss. Even though your metabolic rate drops as you age, there are ways to fix this issue. A high-protein diet combined with strength training and HIIT will do the trick.
Chicken breast, turkey, eggs, soy, and low-fat dairy are chock-full of protein, leading to a faster metabolism. Moreover, protein helps reduce body fat levels, improves satiety, and maintains lean muscle.
Additionally, certain foods can naturally increase your metabolic rate. These include chilies, hot peppers, green tea, coffee, celery, grapefruit, dark leafy greens, coconut oil, garlic, dark chocolate, and raw nuts. Sounds delicious, isn’t it?
If you hit the gym regularly, add protein shakes to your diet. These beverages provide quality protein, which helps prevent muscle loss and weight loss. They also improve appetite control, keeping you full for hours.
Enjoy them for breakfast, between meals, after exercise, or at bedtime. The choice is up to you. In case you’re lactose intolerant, stick to pea, hemp, or soy protein.
Avoid Hidden Sugars
When you’re trying to lose weight, sugar is your worst enemy. Besides the obvious offenders – such as cake, cookies, and breakfast cereals, there are hundreds of foods containing sugar. Many of them are marketed as healthy and nutritious.
For instance, dried fruits boast large amounts of fructose, a natural sugar that goes straight to your liver where it’s stored as fat.
The same goes for store-bought fruit juices and smoothies, energy drinks, sports drinks, flavored yogurt, granola bars, whole grain bread, frozen pancakes, salad dressings, sauces, diet cookies, and restaurant meals. These foods are often packaged with hidden sugars that add inches to your waistline.
With these simple tricks, you should be able to lose five pounds in 10 days. In short, ditch the sugar, eat more protein, and go heavy in the gym. For fast results, add HIIT to the mix. Check food labels for hidden sugars and track your portions.
Don’t Believe Everything You Read, Especially Food Labels
Be weary of any foods with the following phrases on their label:
- “No sugar added”
- “0g refined sugar”
- “No added sugar”
- “0g added sugar”
What you see here with these phrases is a loophole; it’s a way for food manufacturers to promote their product as sugar- and carb-free when that’s not truly the case.
Here’s what I mean:
“No sugar added”, no added sugar and 0g of added sugar are essentially the same thing: they all mean there’s no extra sugars added during the food’s manufacturing process.But that doesn’t mean the food is sugar-free.In most cases, it’s not even close.Chances are, if you’re seeing that label on a product it already has too much sugar in it and should be avoided.So what about “no refined sugar” claims?Turns out, the no refined sugar label is total BS too.
Yes, technically the food doesn’t contain refined sugar specifically, but it’s allowed to contain alternative versions of it.So you’re essentially getting the same sugar, just under a different name.Including both sugar and sugar alcohols, there are over 100 versions of sugar out there.
And some of these pseudonyms for sugar almost sound healthy:
- Fruit juice concentrate
- Invert sugar
- Brown sugar
- Malt syrup
- Maple syrup
- Raw sugar
- Corn syrup
- Crystal dextrose (okay, not this one)
And the list goes on.
Since there’s far too many sugary alternatives to remember, this is where reading the label clearly, and past the no refined sugars statement, is key — especially if ketosis is your goal.
Beware that processed foods mess up your hormones, making weight loss difficult. Thus, it’s important to eat clean and cook your own meals. This way, you’ll know exactly what goes onto your plate.