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How to Lose Weight After 40: 4 Tips for Success

Many people think gaining weight as you age is just a normal part of life. However, it’s never too late to start making healthy choices that support weight loss through midlife and beyond.

How to Lose Weight After 40: 4 Tips for Success

Losing weight after 40 can seem like quite the challenge. Many people believe hormone levels shifting and midlife stressors are to blame for weight gain.

However, developing healthy habits can happen at any age, including habits that promote healthy weight loss and a lifestyle focused on wellness. Read on for tips on how to lose weight after 40, including helpful tips for overall health and wellness. 

Is Losing Weight After 40 Possible?

Weight loss after 40 is totally possible! But when it comes to midlife concerns, weight gain often ranks at the top of the list. This is for a good reason since many processes can happen to the body during midlife.

Moreover, both men and women start to experience the effects of aging during their 40s. However, women have the added factor of entering menopause. 

To complicate matters, many people have unique midlife concerns, like taking care of aging parents or becoming “empty nesters.” These stressors, combined with declining activity levels and poor diet, can create a prime environment for weight gain. 

Study after study shows that midlife weight gain is linked with diseases later in life, especially those of a chronic nature. In particular, midlife weight gain and associated markers like high cholesterol are connected to a higher risk many chronic diseases—Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes.

The good news is that weight gain isn’t inevitable in midlife. It’s never too late to start focusing on your health and making meaningful changes. 

4 Ways to Lose Weight After 40

Making healthy lifestyle changes is a crucial part of maintaining a healthy weight during midlife. If you don’t know what area of life to begin making changes in, these simple steps can help you get started. 

Examine Your Everyday Habits

By age 40, you probably have daily habits that have been built up over the years. For example, some people have the habit of getting a soda on the way to or from work. While this seems like a relatively small aspect of your day, these little habits can add up over time for better or for worse.

While it’s relatively clear how the added sugar of a daily “soda habit” can cause weight gain, other habits can be more subtle. For example, habitually participating in fad diets can actually backfire. Very low calorie diets, skipping meals, and other dangerous diet habits can put the body into “survival mode” and cause the body to hold on to weight instead of losing it. 

Building healthy habits takes time, so it’s important to start with small, realistic steps when you’re starting to make a change. For example, instead of cutting dietary fat out completely, switch from eating more saturated fats to more unsaturated (healthy) fats.

So instead of running a marathon right away, try walking or jogging short distances each day until you work your way up to your ultimate goal. 

Look for Low-Energy Exercises 

Around 15% of middle-age adults experience functional impairment, meaning they have difficulty performing daily activities like bathing or dressing. Regular exercise and movement can help prevent frailty and other adverse outcomes associated with aging. 

After turning 40, it may be more manageable to engage in a gentler style of physical activity. Thanks to a reduced rate of metabolism, you may experience low energy levels. Unfortunately, this may make you feel less motivated to be physically active. 

Fortunately, there are many forms of fitness you can participate in that can feel restorative rather than draining. Yoga and pilates, in particular, can be a more subtle way to stretch and get your body moving and are also considered forms of strength training.

Alternatively, you can choose daily walks or relaxing bike rides over more intense forms of exercise—like HIIT and Tabata workouts. Truly, just getting the body moving—and actively participating in "exercise snacks"—can do wonders. 

Adjust Your Diet To Meet Midlife Needs

Turning 40 may mean it’s time to change your diet to better meet your needs. Midlife is a crucial window of time where the effects of life-long habits may start to show. In fact, two of the leading causes for death among adults aged 25 to 64 are drug overdoses and alcohol-related liver disease. 

In other words, what you eat, drink, or choose to consume can really catch up with you at this stage of life. Although frustrating, a middle-aged body can’t tolerate the same lifestyle and eating habits that a 20-something’s body can. Weight gain during your 40s and 50s can be common if you don’t adjust your diet to better meet your needs. 

Women are especially susceptible to gaining weight if they don’t eat a healthy diet, and may find it harder to lose weight during menopause. Bone loss due to menopause often begins in the 40s, making it even more crucial to obtain nutrients like calcium from food. 

Keep in mind that weight loss goals during this time of life should generally be focused on maintaining muscle mass, reducing body fat, and maintaining a healthy body weight. If you’re reducing your calorie intake, be sure not to choose measures that are too drastic. Cutting out entire food groups or skipping meals may lead to nutrient deficiencies, and may actually cause you to lose muscle instead of fat.

It typically takes about 3500 calories burned to lose 1 pound of fat, although that rate can be different depending on the person. In general, it’s recommended to only reduce your diet by 500 calories a day to begin losing weight. To make sure you’re creating sustainable habits that serve your long-term health, it can be helpful to work with a dietitian. 

Manage Factors Outside of Diet 

Diet and exercising aren’t the only factors that affect weight. Not surprisingly, being sleep deprived makes it harder to lose weight. If you’re taking naps during the day but aren’t getting restful sleep at night, you may be prone to higher levels of stress hormones, depressive symptoms, and even elevated waist-hip ratios (an indicator of weight gain). 

Mental health matters, too. For example, those who manage depressive symptoms well may be less likely to experience cardio-metabolic outcomes (like metabolic syndrome) during midlife. 

Cultivating and creating solid relationships in midlife also makes a difference. For example, a recent study showed that people in supportive marriages generally have a healthier body weight throughout midlife. 

In other words, creating healthy habits in other areas of your life (beyond diet and exercise) can help put your body in prime position to lose weight. In order to maintain a healthy weight, you’ll want to identify areas of your life where changes can be made to help support you in your weight loss journey. 

The Last Word on Losing Weight After 40

Support yourself during your weight loss journey by developing healthy midlife habits. Diet and exercise are important, but it’s also crucial to get enough sleep and manage stress. Seeking out supportive relationships and the help of professionals (like doctors or dietitians) may also help. 


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