Let me see if this sounds familiar: you’re over forty and exercising regularly. You eat a balanced diet and pass on dessert at parties. And yet, you can’t get rid of those extra pounds. If this scenario describes you, know that losing weight after 40 is possible, it just takes a little education.
Oftentimes, losing weight does get harder as you get older, even if you’re someone who has always been able to easily manage your weight with diet and exercise.
Starting at age 30, most people begin to lose about half a pound of muscle per year. What does this have to do with weight loss? The more muscle you have on your body, the better your metabolism works.
So it’s not just in your head: losing weight after 40 is more difficult than when you were younger. But you don’t have to feel like weight loss after 40 is impossible.
Here are six ways to lose that extra weight after 40.
1. Rule Out Underlying Metabolic Conditions and Check Hormones
Before you try anything else, make sure there isn’t an underlying factor interfering with your weight loss, like a thyroid condition.
Did you know that nearly 1 in 5 adults over 40 suffer from thyroid problems that can interfere with weight loss? Your thyroid is the main regulator of your body’s metabolism, so having an over or under-active thyroid gland (hyper or hypothyroidism) can truly interfere with weight loss.
Talk to your doctor if you’re having trouble losing weight after 40 and also experiencing any of the following symptoms of a thyroid disorder:
- Excessive fatigue
- Thinning hair
- Dry skin and hair
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
Hormone imbalance can also wreak havoc on your weight. Keep in mind that perimenopause and other hormone changes can start when you are in your 40s.
Estrogen dominance will definitely interrupt weight loss but so will the imbalance of cortisol, leptin, and insulin. We have a great article that covers, in great detail, how these hormones affect your body.
2. Strength Train For More Muscle Mass
The more muscle you have on your body, the better your metabolism works. Having more muscle increases your resting metabolic rate (RMR). This helps you burn more calories at rest—which is what you want if you’re losing weight after 40 (or over 50 and beyond).
So if you’ve been avoiding those weight machines or dumbbells, now’s the time to dedicate yourself to strength training. It is never too late to start strength training! If it is new to you, take advantage of any free personal training sessions that might be offered when you join a local gym or health club.
Another great idea is to get into a group fitness strength training class. This is a less intimidating way to get started and in most gyms, you will find people of all ages and abilities attending; just ask the instructor if it is the right level for you.
Keep in mind that if you are afraid to pick up the weights you can even use your own bodyweight to build strength through moves like push-ups, lunges, and squats. Strength training for as little as 20 minutes two to three times a week can build enough muscle to increase your resting metabolic rate (RMR) over time.
3. Try HIIT Workouts for Weight Loss
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is where you exert maximum effort through quick, intense bursts of exercise followed by short recovery periods, and it’s a great way to amp up your weight loss.
If you’re currently only using doing steady state cardio workouts like jogging or elliptical weight loss exercises, for example, you could benefit from incorporating HIIT workouts into your regimen. Because the intervals get your heart rate more elevated, they help you work harder, not longer. Studies show that HIIT also burns more fat than other workouts and is a great method for losing weight after 40.
4. Eat Clean Protein Rich Food
Eating well isn’t just about skipping out on processed junk food. It’s also about filling up your plate with clean, healthy foods that can actually assist in your weight loss.
Healthy fats like those found in olive oil, avocados, and nut butter nourish your body while helping you feel full longer—which means you’re less likely to overeat.
Incorporating healthy sources of protein like eggs and salmon will also help you feel more satiated as well as fuel the muscles you’re building through that regular strength training we mentioned above!
Hungry during the day? Keep a small pack of healthy almonds or other nuts in your bag to snack on in a pinch. Just a handful will keep you satisfied until your next meal, all while providing healthy protein, fat, and fiber. Don’t wait until your tummy is growling! Be prepared.
5. Naturally Detox Your Body
Staying healthy is more than detoxing after an indulgent weekend. While some people try to fast or do week-long “cleanses” to lose weight, the truth is that your body already has natural detoxification processes in place to help manage your weight.
The trick is to aid that natural detoxification by adopting consistent, healthy habits. Three easy habits to help naturally detoxify your body are:
- Drinking enough water, particularly lemon water. Lemons alkalize your body and contain a soluble fiber called pectin, which helps with weight loss.
- Adding fermented foods like kimchi, kombucha, or Greek yogurt to your diet. Fermented foods balance your body’s gut bacteria, which helps your body’s natural elimination processes work regularly, boost your immune system, and even improve your mood.
- When the goal is losing weight after 40, aiding your body’s natural detoxification processes will keep your body healthy and your weight under control.
6. Get More Sleep
While quality zzz’s can become ever-elusive as you age from busy schedules, back pain, or menopausal symptoms like hot flashes or insomnia, getting enough sleep is an essential component to weight loss. A good night’s sleep actually burns calories!
Plus, studies have shown a strong link between lack of sleep and over-eating the following day. This is because the hormones ghrelin and leptin are thrown out of whack when you don’t get enough sleep, leaving you feeling more hungry but less satiated at every meal, which leads to overeating.