7 Tips for Losing Weight After 40

Gaining weight as you age is normal, but losing it can be hard. Here are some of the best ways to lose and maintain weight after 40.

Hitting your 40s has many benefits, such as earned wisdom, increased self-awareness, and more self-confidence. Though, getting used to some of the physical changes can be tough. 

One obstacle is a downshift in metabolism, making weight maintenance tricky and weight loss challenging. However, losing weight after 40 isn't impossible. You can lose weight at any age while optimizing your overall wellness. 

Why Is Losing Weight After 40 Hard?

Fat tissue starts to gather near your body's center as you age. So, it's common for us to gain weight as we approach midlife. Older adults tend to have about one-third more fat than younger adults.

Specifically, for people nearing menopause, decreased estrogen raises the risk of weight gain and makes it hard to lose weight. Menopause symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats, which affect sleep and mood changes, make it hard to practice healthy lifestyle habits.

Still, even with a healthy diet and exercise, decreased estrogen also impacts:

  • The way your body breaks down cells that store fat
  • Depots that store fat
  • Your appetite 
  • Your energy levels

How To Safely Lose Weight After 40

Healthy lifestyle habits are vital to maintaining a healthy body weight. Weight gain in midlife raises your risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, arthritis, and other health conditions. These tips may help you lose or maintain your weight.

Reduce Carbohydrate Consumption

Carbohydrates are a macronutrient that fuel your body. Whole food sources of carbs, like fresh fruit, whole grains, and potatoes, pack vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

After 40, your daily carb intake may decline. You may be unable to eat large portions of carbs without gaining weight or struggling to lose it. Still, carbs aren't inherently fattening or bad, so you don't need to banish them altogether.

Nixing the macronutrient altogether isn't sustainable or optimal for health. Cutting out carbs deprives your body of key nutrients. As a result, adverse side effects like constipation, fatigue, and irritability may occur.

Why it helps: Reducing but not eliminating your carb intake can help maintain your body weight. For example, a study published in 2022 in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews found no differences in weight loss between people who restrict their carb intake and those who eat a balanced-carb diet.

So, instead of depriving your body of carbs, opt for quality foods and aim for balance. One of the best solutions is to optimize the quality of the carbs you eat.

Try incorporating some of the following healthy carbs into your diet:

  • Whole grains, like whole wheat bread, brown rice, and oatmeal
  • Fresh fruits, like apples, bananas, and berries
  • Legumes like dried beans, lentils, and peas

Eat More Vegetables

Only 9% of adults in the United States eat the minimum recommended daily intake of two to three cups of vegetables. Still, some evidence suggests that five cups of vegetables daily will provide valuable nutrients and protect against disease. Try one cup of non-starchy vegetables at breakfast and at least two cups for lunch and dinner. 

Why it helps: Vegetables sustainably manage your weight by increasing fullness, regulating blood sugar and insulin levels, and supporting healthy digestion.

Start with vegetables, then build your meals around them. For instance, at breakfast, try some of the following:

  • Whip a generous handful of greens into a smoothie
  • Fold shredded zucchini into oats
  • Simply eat sliced cucumber or red bell peppers on the side

Then, instead of sandwiches or wraps at lunch, go for salads or bowls with a large base of greens and veggies. At dinner, sauté, oven-roast, grill, or stir-fry vegetables as the largest component of your meal.

Also, don't forget to pair your vegetables with a source of lean protein, good fat, and a small portion of healthy carbohydrates. You'll create an ideal balance for managing your weight and good nutrition.

Swap Diet Foods for Whole Foods

Outdated weight loss methods, like eating highly-processed products made with artificial chemicals engineered to lower calories and other nutrients, often hinder your goals.

In addition to being ultimately unsatisfying, diet foods can wreak havoc on your appetite, trigger inflammation, alter the healthy bacteria in your gut, and overtax your immune system.

Healthy, sustainable weight loss isn't about dieting. Methods that deprive your body of critical nutrients ultimately backfire. Instead, adopt a balanced mentality, not undereating or overeating, and focus on nutrition. That mentality is a sustainable approach that will help you feel good physically and emotionally.

Why it helps: Research has found that switching from processed to whole foods increases calorie burning. In other words, eating real food may help you lose weight without cutting your calorie intake.

So, instead of a low-calorie frozen meal, opt for some of the following:

  • A hearty lentil soup and an avocado-topped salad
  • Sliced apples dipped in almond butter
  • A few squares of dark chocolate

Eat Dark Chocolate

Building in dark chocolate as a daily treat helps curb cravings for sweet and salty foods. Dark chocolate can also help reduce stress, a major emotional eating trigger.

Knowing that you have a sweet treat to look forward to may help you pass on other less satisfying, high-calorie, and high-carbohydrate foods.

Why it helps: One study published in 2014 in the International Journal of Health Sciences found that eating about 40 grams of dark chocolate daily for two weeks reduced levels of stress hormones in highly-stressed people.

Also, five squares of 70% dark chocolate contain under 250 calories and provide antioxidants, fiber, and magnesium. Magnesium is a mineral that helps relax you, improves sleep, and enhances mood.

Try some of the following ways to treat yourself to dark chocolate daily:

  • Chop dark chocolate up and add it to oatmeal
  • Fold dark chocolate into your favorite nut butter
  • Enjoy as is as part of a daily "you time" ritual

Limit Alcohol Intake

Some evidence suggests that, in moderation, alcohol may actually support weight management. Moderate alcohol consumption means one or two daily drinks for women and men. In contrast, women who drink heavily or binge drink have an increased obesity risk.

Why it helps: Regular heavy drinking may impede weight loss goals. For example, alcohol lowers inhibitions and stimulates appetite. So, you may wind up mindlessly eating more than you meant to. What's more, too much alcohol can cause poor sleep quality. A healthy sleep cycle links to metabolism, weight management, and belly fat accumulation.

If cutting alcohol altogether isn't realistic, consider committing to a specific drinking strategy, such as:

  • Cutting back gradually
  • Limiting alcohol to weekends only
  • Curbing your consumption to one daily drink

Try To Reduce Stress

Stress, good or bad, is something that can affect anyone. If you endure stress for long periods, your body makes too much cortisol and other stress hormones.

Why it helps: One of the effects of too many stress hormones is weight gain, which can arise from stress eating. A study published in 2019 in Physiology & Behavior noted that people who were stressed were more likely to engage in stress eating of their comfort foods than others. So, reducing stress may counteract those behaviors.

Stress eating could relieve stress in the short term. However, you'll want to find healthy long-term methods that achieve the same effects without weight gain.

Some stress-relieving methods include:

  • Engaging in positive self-talk
  • Spending some time with your pets
  • Going for a walk
  • Regularly exercising

Improve Your Sleep Routine

Sleep is an important part of managing your weight, and getting a good night's rest links to increased weight and fat loss.

Why it helps: A study published in 2021 in the International Journal of Obesity found that over 12 months, people with irregular sleep, poor sleep satisfaction, and late sleep timing lost fewer pounds than others. Instead, improving your sleep hygiene can foster weight loss concerns.

Ways to improve your sleeping patterns include:

  • Having a consistent bedtime
  • Ensuring your bedroom is comfortable and relaxing
  • Removing electronics from your bedroom
  • Not consuming large meals, caffeine, or alcohol close to bedtime
  • Exercising early in the day and not too close to bedtime

A Quick Review

Fat tissue starts to gather near your body's center as you age. For women nearing menopause, weight loss can be tricky since the body makes less estrogen, which impacts weight. 

Still, losing weight after 40 is possible. Incorporating some of these tips for losing and maintaining body weight can help. For example, reduce your carb intake, eat whole foods, limit alcohol intake, and relieve stress as much as possible.

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19 Sources
Health.com uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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