If you’ve ever tried losing weight after you turn 40, you’ll know how much more difficult it is compared to your 20s or 30s.
Recently, even award-winning actress Charlize Theron talked about how hard it was for her to shed the extra pounds she gained for the movie “Tully.”
Below, we’ll explain why this happens.
And, more importantly, we’ll go through some of the things you can do to shed those pounds and achieve your weight loss goals.
Is it Harder to Lose Weight After 40?
Losing weight is harder as you get older. By the time you get to 40, your body has gone through and continues to go through changes that cause this.
So why is it harder to lose weight after 40 years old?
Your Metabolism Slows Down
One of the main reasons why it’s harder to lose weight when you’re 40 compared to when you were 20 is your metabolism is much slower now.
Forty seems to be a trigger point of some sort. In fact, according to Dr. Oz, after the age of 40, women experience a 5% slow down in metabolism ever ten years.
This means this only get harder from here on.
Changes in Your Hormones
Another reason is hormonal changes. This time, it’s menopause to blame.
Right before menopause, or perimenopause, women start seeing estrogen and testosterone levels drop. Yes, women have testosterone too, just not nearly as much as men do.
They then go into a freefall come menopause.
Estrogen and testosterone are both linked to body weight control. Lower levels of estrogen can slow down your metabolism. Also, it also makes your more likely to be less active and want to eat more.
So, you’re more prone to naturally gain weight even if you haven’t changed anything in your diet or lifestyle.
It is also one reason why about 30% of women between 50 and 59 years old are obese.
You’re Less Active (and Stress More)
Work, family life, and all the responsibilities cause you to have less time for yourself. This includes exercise time. Also, they bring a lot of stress as well.
In general, most of us are most active when we’re kids. Our physical activity levels go down a bit come college. And, takes a more significant drop after going to work.
As we get older, we exercise less or stop altogether.
Sounds about right?
Unfortunately, this isn’t the way to go. Here are a couple of reasons.
- As we get older, our bodies lose aerobic fitness. This means it doesn’t burn as much energy during exercise as it once did. So, we need to exercise more in order to burn the same number of calories we did when we were 25.
- As we age, we experience sarcopenia. Sarcopenia is the natural process of losing muscle mass due to aging. It’s why older men have a hard time building muscle. And, we start experiencing it around our 30s. The problem is, muscle burns more calories than fat. Also, more muscle means a faster metabolism.
So, as we get older, we lose on both counts. Thus, making it easier to gain weight.
Research shows that aging is a risk factor for insulin resistance. So, as we age, we’re more likely to experience it.
If you suffer from insulin resistance, your body does not use insulin properly. So, the insulin your pancreas pumps out isn’t able to escort glucose (sugar) from your blood into your cells.
As a result, you end up with high amounts of sugar and insulin in your bloodstream, increasing your risk of type 2 diabetes.
As far as weight goes, studies show that people with insulin resistance are more likely to gain weight. Also, that weight tends to manifest itself in belly fat.
7 Effective Ways to Lose Weight After 40
While it may be harder to lose weight after 40 because of the changes in our bodies, it isn’t impossible to do so. Here are some things to keep in mind that will help you shed the pounds despite the body’s natural aging process.
1. Get Lots of Sleep
As we get older, sleep gets harder to come by. We also tend to get up more at night than we used to when we were younger.
This may be from aging, caffeine, stress, lack of physical activity, medication, health issues or something else.
Unfortunately, lack of sleep adversely affects your weight loss efforts.
Sixty thousand women who participated in the Nurses’ Health Study over a 16-year period showed that lack of sleep, in this case, 5 hours per night, ups your risk of obesity by 15%.
In addition to sleep quantity, sleep quality is just as crucial in getting a good night’s rest.
To help you sleep better, try to wind down and relax at least an hour before bedtime. Also, make sure to stop drinking coffee after 3 p.m. since it can take up to 6 hours for caffeine to exit your system.
2. Stick Real Foods
Added sugar, junk food, processed food and refined carbs are among the main reasons the world is getting fatter.
In the U.S.,
- Most of the carbs we consume are refined carbs. These include white bread, pasta and rice.
- We average about 19.5 teaspoons of sugar per person per day. That’s way above the 6 and nine teaspoons daily limits for women and men, respectively.
- Sugar is likewise present in 74% of all processed foods, according to the University of California San Francisco’s Sugar Science team
All of these lead to weight gain.
To lose weight, opt for whole foods instead. Veggies, lean protein, and fruits all help you lose weight.
Cooking food yourself also lets you control what goes into what you eat. And, don’t forget to read the labels of products you buy.
3. Be More Active
As we age, we need to exercise more, not less. That’s because of our slowing metabolism and aerobic fitness.
Sadly, our bodies often want to do the opposite. As we age, we tend to stay seated more.
One way to boost your weight loss efforts past the age of 40 is to make sure you get a combination of both cardio and resistance training.
- Cardio (aerobic exercise). Cardio helps you burn calories. And because your body doesn’t burn as many calories as it used to through exercise, you’ll need to work out longer or with more intensity. We recommend the latter. It saves time. And, it has been shown to be more effective in burning stubborn belly fat.
- Resistance training (lift weights). Weightlifting is vital as we age because of sarcopenia. As we lose muscle mass, our metabolism slows down. Resistance training is an excellent way to prevent this. Also, it helps keep your bones strong.
4. Keep Track of What You Eat
Keeping track of what you eat makes it easy to monitor your diet. Also, it helps you figure out which foods help you lose weight and which don’t.
One of the most important things I learned from food journaling is that not all calories are equal. Just because two foods have the same number of calories, it doesn’t mean that they affect your weight the same way.
For example, let’s compare a 3-ounce piece of chicken breast and six twists of pretzels.
Your food diary or app will quickly show that while both contain 140 calories,
- Chicken breast has very little fat and has a lot of protein, which helps boost metabolism by building muscle.
- Pretzels, on the other hand, have a lot of fat, carbs, and sodium.
5. Drink More Water
Drinking water helps you lose weight in 3 ways.
- It replaces the other fluids you consume. Often, this includes sodas, fruit juices, and alcohol, all of which contain a lot of calories. Sodas and fruit juices, in particular, have a lot of sugar in them, about 6.5 teaspoons worth for 8 ounces of each.
- Drinking enough water helps prevent dehydration. Dehydration causes your metabolism to slow down. Thus, it adversely affects how much fat your body burns. In fact, a 2003 study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism found that drinking 2 cups of water boosted metabolic rate by 30%.
- You eat less when you’re well hydrated. Research in the Journal of Nutrition and Dietetics shows that participants who were well hydrated consumed 206 fewer calories than those how drank little water.
6. Give Your Metabolism a Boost
As mentioned earlier, metabolism slows down by the time we get to 40. To help counter this, try incorporating a few things into your lifestyle that help boost metabolism.
Here are some scientifically proven metabolism boosters.
- Consume more protein. You can do this via food or protein supplements.
- Stand up every 30 minutes while at work.
- Drink green tea or coffee. Don’t go overboard with the coffee though because of caffeine
- Enjoy some spicy foods with meals
- Add high-intensity training to your workouts
- Get 7-8 hours of sleep every night
- Replace vegetable oils with coconut oil when cooking. And, add olive oil to foods.
7. Reset Your Hormones for Weight Loss
As we get older, our hormones can get out of whack. Because our hormones control almost everything in our bodies, they can easily affect everything you do.
We’ve mentioned how estrogen causes us to gain weight naturally.
But, that isn’t the only threat.
Other things we do in life, including stress, the food we eat and being sedentary also put us at risk of hormonal imbalances that can lead to weight gain.
According to Cleveland Clinic’s Dr. Hyman, insulin is the “monster hormone that causes weight gain, inflammation, and chronic disease.” He calls the hormone your “fat cell fertilizer,” alluding to how it can make your weight quickly balloon.
But, excess insulin is not alone. Dr. Hyman also says others involved are your thyroid hormones, cortisol, and sex hormones.
For these, eating healthy, managing your stress levels and getting enough exercise are very important.