(Updated at Mar 23 / 2023)
How to lose weight after your forties, fifties, or older?
What’s special about losing weight in your 40s?
When you are under 40 years of age, losing weight with a strong desire and willpower is as easy as shelling pears. A week of diet can help losing all of the extra pounds.
But as we age, dropping even a few pounds is a challenge. On top of that, even slim people after reaching 40 often get fat, even if they do not change either their diet or lifestyle. It is especially relevant for women. Why is it so?
It is so because age-related changes are inevitable. By the age of 40, the hormonal background in women changes: the level of main female hormones which are greatly involved in metabolism drop and the metabolism slows down (by two percent every ten years). This is confirmed by research from the European Association of Endocrinologists. The figure takes on a more rounded shape, and not at all in those places where we would like. So what now: buy jeans two sizes larger, wrap yourself in an oversized sweater and give up on yourself?
Not at all! It's just that in your mature years you need to start weight loss wisely and acknowledge that you will hardly be able to throw off the excess in a swoop. To obtain the desired shape and maintain it, you need to create a strong basis made of: proper nutrition and lifestyle, control of your health, increasing your physical activity, and taking care of body in general.
Why is weight increasing?
As we have already said, it is due to hormonal changes. First, the ovaries start to make less progesterone. It affects the reproductive function that significantly drops and also the metabolism rate. As a result, a woman, seemingly having the same lifestyle as before is gaining weight.
After progesterone, estrogen and the synthesis of thyroid hormones also decrease. This also slows down the metabolism and promotes weight gain.
As for the changes of the body storage – it accumulates mostly in the stomach and arms. It is because the level of male sex hormones falls slower and it causes the redistribution of adipose tissues. This is called weight gain, and later – male-type obesity.
By the way, men grow fat less often from hormonal changes. More often the reason for their excess weight is a sedentary lifestyle and beer. It contains enzymes that lead precisely to abdominal obesity: the belly begins to grow. And the fat is formed there so dense that it is very difficult to "break" its cells. In fact, this fat acts as a gland: it itself secretes certain substances that contribute to the development of atherosclerosis. So this is a very “bad” fat. However, it cannot be removed quickly: you need to work in a planned manner, combining dietary restrictions with physical activity.
Another "helper" of excess weight is our own lazy lifestyle. Remember how much you walked in your youth, how often you ran to dances, how much you walked, played sports - in general, and so on. And now? If we begin to move a little and at the same time age-related changes occur in the body, the balance is upset: we consume more energy than we spend, and it becomes more difficult to get rid of excess fats.
But this does not mean that you should not or cannot lose weight! Extra pounds on their own are a disease. It puts stress on the joints, heart, promotes wearing off of the body. Fortunately, hormonal imbalance in women, they can be successfully corrected, for instance, with the help of hormone replacement therapy. Nutricion can also be improved, and it is not so difficult to become more physically active. It is crucial is not to give up halfway and acknowledge that it is possible to lose weight and achieve your perfect shape even after forty but only by changing your lifestyle.
Where should you start if you want to lose weight in your 40s?
The first step to a perfect body is a visit to the doctor. Many women go straight to a nutritionist to give them the right diet and lifestyle. And they are not wrong. Nutritionist should be able to create a personal diet for any person. But, in order to do this correctly taking into account the general health condition of a patient, a competent doctor first sends their patient to other specialists - an endocrinologist, because a malfunction of the thyroid gland is one of the main causes of excess, and gynecologist because of the common age-related hormonal imbalances.
Important! Be sure to tell your doctor what medications you are taking. Especially if these are hormonal agents (most often those that are used in the treatment of bronchial asthma, female diseases). As for contraceptive pills, the latest generation of drugs containing micro-doses of hormones should not affect weight, but provided that they are prescribed by a doctor. Otherwise, the effect may be unpredictable. Also, in some cases, the weight jumps and does not want to decrease against the background of antidepressants and a number of antibiotics.
Those who are desperate to lose weight in the usual way sometimes try (or even have to) resort to radical measures. We are talking about surgical intervention.
Perhaps the most serious and effective operation in the field of bariatric surgery is stomach reduction. This is not just for you to cut off excess fat from the thighs and belly, this is a serious correction of the work of the gastrointestinal tract. You need to understand that this is not done for the sake of 5-10 kilograms. As a rule, patients who need to lose at least 50 kilograms of excess weight lie on the operating table.
Another important specialist to whom you should contact if you cannot lose weight after you reach the age of forty years is a psychologist or psychoanalyst. It will help you understand the origins of the problem, analyze the situations that triggered the excess weight gain. By the way, working through the traumatic events that led to uncontrolled overeating is considered the most difficult psychotherapeutic work. In addition, a specialist will help to realize mistakes in eating behavior (we will talk about them separately) and it is with his help that a person will find his motivation to start losing weight.
Eating without harm
It would seem that everything is simple. Eat a lot of buns - you get fat, limit yourself in food - you lose weight. But, we repeat, this was all long ago and almost untrue. After forty years, short-term fasting is the most ineffective way to lose weight. Any diet - after you stop adhering to it, will promote the return of kilograms in excess – on average, plus 30 percent to the original body weight. Therefore you should acknowledge that now proper nutrition is not a temporary necessity, but a constant in your life.
The problem is that at this age many people have disturbed eating behavior: attitude to food itself, to its composition, quantity, diet, and so on. To understand what type of eating behavior you are, it is worth taking a special test, and then you can identify foods or situations that "trigger" your desire to eat, even if you are not really hungry. And don't be surprised if you realize that there are several types of problems that apply to you.
Types of improper eating behavior
- External. In this case, a person takes food always when it is in sight, when it is available. For example, if there are cookies on a plate, then a person will eat them all – he/she will not be able to tear themselves away. So we constantly eat "for the company", buy excess food in the store and so on.
- Emocyogenic. It occurs in 60 percent of obese patients. The incentive to eat is not hunger, but emotional discomfort. A person eats to cope with anxiety, worries, and problems. Inside this type there are two more forms: compulsive, when a person suddenly wants to eat and cannot stop, and “night meal” syndrome - when the appetite wakes up only in the evening and at night.
- Restrictive. When a person tries to lose weight on their own and seriously restricts food consumption, including sharply excludes all favorite dishes from the diet. In this situation, everything will end with a nervous breakdown and weight gain. The prevention of restrictive eating behavior can be the gradual, rather than one-step, exclusion of foods that are harmful to health and shape from the diet.
So, proper nutrition after 40 is very important. Without this, lose weight and - most importantly – not to regain it is almost impossible. But the principles of nutrition at this age differ from the ones in youth.
- To lose weight, the diet must be low-calorie and balanced. Otherwise, not fat, but muscle mass will go away. This will be bad for your well-being. A woman of this age needs a sufficient amount of protein: at least 85-90 grams per day to maintain optimal levels of muscle mass. If the protein is not consumed enough, the weight will go away again due to the muscles. Therefore, a woman should eat about 100-120 grams of lean meat (turkey, chicken, rabbit) or 150 grams of fish per day.
- In terms of daily calorie intake, it depends on a number of factors: weight, height, age, and physical activity. To lose weight, you need to subtract 500 calories from your personal calorie intake. This will allow you to gradually and safely lose weight. To determine the daily amount of calories, you can use special formulas and tables (you can find them on the Internet) or conduct bioimpedance measurements. This is a special technique that determines the condition of your muscle, subcutaneous, adipose and bone tissues, as well as the amount of fluid in the body. The study is carried out using a weak electric current. With its help, you can find out what foods you are missing for the correct metabolism. But counting the right amount of calories is not enough. They also need to be properly distributed. The standard recommendation says: fill half of the plate with vegetables or fruits.
Choose those that are high in fiber and water. They take up space in the stomach, but they are not too high in calories. Next, take lean protein is a palm-sized serving. Not necessarily meat, better fish (2-3 times a week fatty seafood - this is important for the balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids), poultry, or eggs. Red meat should be eaten no more than twice a week, eggs no more than five to six a week - they have too much cholesterol. Further, complex carbohydrates should be present in the portion: these are starchy vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. In the morning - porridge, as well as healthy fats. Don't be afraid of this word. A couple of tablespoons of nuts or flaxseeds, half a teaspoon of olive oil, half an avocado will not make you fat.
- Skipping meals is not allowed. At 20 years old, you could have breakfast, and then only have dinner. After forty, minus food intake - plus the risk of lowering blood sugar levels. Then you will feel hellish hunger and, even worse, want to satisfy it with fast and sweet carbohydrates. If you want to grab a snack in between meals, your choice is protein bars, which are a low-calorie source of protein.
- You need to lose weight at the rate no more than a kilogram per week. The principle works here: slowly but surely. This approach will allow you to get used to your new lifestyle and not return to your old excess weight when the diet is over.
There should be no meal without vegetables
After reaching 40 years of age, the basis of your diet should be vegetables. By the way, nutritionists called beets the most useful vegetable for people of this age. You can even eat it for breakfast with oatmeal or buckwheat porridge. It will not only help you lose weight, but also promote blood thinning.
It is important that vegetables retain their natural substances - vitamins and trace elements. In summer and autumn, it is not difficult to find such. In winter and in the off-season, you should pay attention to frozen fruits and vegetables. If they are prepared correctly, they will not lose their beneficial qualities, they will retain the maximum amount of vitamins and minerals.
Berries in the diet
In addition to vegetables and fruits, berries must be included in the diet of a losing weight person. They are even more useful than we think.
Berries contain flavonoids and antioxidants that help burn fat, minerals that improve metabolic processes, and fiber. So eating berries on a regular basis is a great way to boost your metabolism and start burning fat at a fast pace. What kind of berries for weight loss to use depends on personal preference. Cranberries, lingonberries, blueberries, crowberries, cloudberries, mountain ash, strawberries, currants – there are plenty of them so you can easily choose. If you cannot find them fresh, you can always opt for frozen ones. But chose only freeze-dried berries that maintain all of the healthy elements. They can be used in drinks, breakfast cereals, milkshakes, and protein shakes. They make great smoothies.
What you should exclude from your nutrition once and for all?
At the same time as a woman adds cereals, vegetables, fruits, berries and protein to her diet, she needs to exclude a number of hazards from the diet once and for all. These foods and drinks are not very useful for the body even at a young age, and even during the period of hormonal changes, they are completely dangerous.
We are talking, of course, primarily about fast carbohydrates - sweets, pastries, buns, fast food, sweet soda. It is advisable to give up alcohol, and on holidays give preference to dry wine, but no more than a glass. Alcoholic is nothing but empty extra calories. Products with sugar substitutes are also harmful - they can have a negative effect on the metabolism. Ready-made soups and other convenience foods contain too much salt, which retains fluid in the body. Pasta and white rice quickly raise blood sugar, and French fries are a source of fat and not healthy at all.
Drinking during weight loss
Drinking a lot of fluid is also important with any diet. But, when you are over forty, won’t it cause puffiness?
You need to drink at least two - two and a half liters of water, precisely water! Not coffee, not juice, not soup. To understand if fluid retention occurs in your body, you need to record how much fluid you consume and how much you excrete throughout the day. If the difference is 300 milliliters, everything is fine. If more, then the retention takes place and you need to see a doctor.
Without water, of course, there is no way you can be healthy and slim, but what about the rest of the drinks? It is best to limit coffee to one cup a day. Alcohol - a glass of wine on holidays. Even your favorite mineral water cannot be drunk regularly: an excess of minerals is just as harmful as a lack. It is necessary to completely exclude energy and carbonated drinks, which not only do not take away, but also add extra pounds to you, as well as beer. It is considered the drink with one of the highest glycemic indices - it raises blood sugar to sky-high heights.
Drinks useful during a diet
- Fresh juices. Preferably from vegetables. One of the most low-calorie juice is tomato. Fruit juices can be consumed after consultation with a doctor, so as not to harm the stomach, the concentration of active substances in fresh juices is very high. For example, apple cider can harm people who have gastrointestinal problems.
- Water. Improves digestion, saves from dehydration. Cleans the body of toxins and toxins, improves skin condition, and saves from fatigue.
- Tea. Any: black, green, white, hibiscus. Cold tea activates the production of gastric juice, hot cleanses the kidneys due to its diuretic properties and it also creates the illusion of satiety.
- Lemon drinks. Lemon lowers blood sugar and dulls the feeling of hunger, and citric acid promotes the active breakdown of fats and speeds up the process of food digestion.
- Ginger drinks. Normalize digestion, dull the feeling of hunger but the spicy taste is not for everybody.
- Citrus lemonade. Just don't add sugar! Grapefruits, oranges, pineapples are low in calories and contain many beneficial substances.
- Decoctions and infusions of flaxseed and oats. Cleanses the liver, improves bowel function.
Dietary supplements to help
Biologically active additives - dietary supplements - can supplement proper nutrition. They contain elements that accelerate metabolism, normalize water-salt metabolism and remove toxins.
- Before starting any program to improve the body, it must be cleansed. Otherwise the toxins accumulated over many years will interfere with the absorption of nutrients and there will be no effect from the diet or procedures. Therefore, first of all, when choosing food additives, you need to pay attention to products that help cleanse the intestines and liver, as well as normalize the natural microflora. As a rule, after such cleaning, a person loses several kilograms, because toxins also lead to weight gain.
- At the next stage, women after forty years of age need to choose dietary supplements with an eye to hormonal levels. And do not forget: any diet for the body is a deprivation of its usual food. In such conditions, the body begins to resist, creating reserves. And we see the opposite effect - weight gain instead of weight loss. It is in order to make up for the lack of nutrients that the body does not receive during the diet, it is necessary to use biologically active additives that contain vitamins, micro- and macroelements; natural substances that normalize appetite and reduce hunger; substances that normalize water-salt metabolism (remove excess water) and lipid metabolism (remove cholesterol and saturated fats); substances of natural origin that have the ability to bind and remove excess fat and sugar before they are digested and absorbed.
How to choose dietary supplements?
1. Do not buy cheap dietary supplements. Keep in mind that dietary supplements are made from natural raw materials that cannot be very cheap. If the drug costs much less than others, it means that the raw materials were of poor quality.
2. Visit doctors - gynecologist and endocrinologist, as well as check hormonal levels in order to clearly understand what is happening with your body. You need to take the dietary supplements that are right for you.
3. Do not buy dietary supplements of dubious quality with a suspicious label.
4. Carefully study the label: the manufacturer is obliged to indicate on it not only how to take the drug, but also warn about contraindications. For example, a contraindication to some dietary supplements is hyperthyroidism (hyperfunction of the thyroid gland). As a rule, the components in food additives are safe, but some natural substances can cause allergies, this is due to the individual intolerance of the components.
Exercising for weight loss
We have already said and will repeat: any diet, any weight loss without physical activity and an active lifestyle is meaningless. And for a woman during the period of hormonal changes in the body, sports are vital. At this age, a person becomes less flexible, their muscle and bone mass decreases. Moreover, in women these changes are stronger than men by almost a quarter. This leads to the development of such dangerous diseases as coxarthrosis, arthritis and arthrosis.
At the same age, muscle imbalance begins: one muscle weakens faster, the other remains strong. As a result, it becomes difficult to complete even the simplest task, for example, taking the stairs.
At the genetic level, you are programmed to move,” writes orthopedic surgeon Vonda Wright in her book Fitness After 40. - The body does not know what you are doing: whether you are hunting, collecting berries right in front of the cave. The body simply recognizes movement. And activity supports the work of genes in which health, mobility, muscle and bone strength are encrypted. If you sit all day, the body decides that you are waiting for the end of winter, and puts the metabolism into hibernation mode. Salvation is in regular sports.
After 40 years, a woman must have at least 30 minutes of activity per day (this is in addition to training). At least walks. You need to walk at least 10 thousand steps a day to keep fit. And those who lose weight - all 15 thousand. Plus 3-4 times a week training in the gym with weights. This will help you lose calories while preserving muscle mass. You will see the result in two or three months, and it will become stable not earlier than in a year. Yes, it's about age again: the capabilities of a mature organism are very different from a young one.
You need to realize that in order to destroy the fat, into which one little candy has turned, you need to spend ten times more calories than it was in it. Next time you will think about it before eating sweets.
In fact, by the age of 40, people are divided into those who have been actively involved in sports for a long time, and those who have just now approached it out of necessity, for health reasons. Beginners don't need to rush to lift heavy weights and run marathons right away. And it will be difficult for a young man, but now such a sharp start, instead of being slim, will lead you to a cardiologist and an orthopedist.
Start small: a little exercise in the morning – make exercises more difficult every few days, accelerate the pace of evening walks. If you want to run in the morning, but have never done it before, start with an athletic or Finnish walk. This is the most popular sport for people over 40. Swimming in second place - the pool will strengthen muscles and relieve tension.
When going to a workout after work, be sure to eat a little. Calculate the time so that the meal is about an hour before class. Snacking helps you exercise longer and burn more calories.
It is advised choosing foods rich in carbohydrates before training. For example, apples or oranges, you can also eat oatmeal or vegetable salad. You can drink during the workout.
After a workout, protein is required - fish, meat, cottage cheese or vegetables, which contain a large amount of protein, that is, corn, peas and beans. You can also add protein shakes and blends to your diet. They help control hunger and weight.
If you struggle with appetite that cannot be lowered by any supplements, you can use such medicines as Rimonabant (Acomplia). This medication suppresses appetite affecting cannabinoid receptor CB1 (a receptor of the central nervous system). But keep in mind that such medicines can cause adverse effects and are contraindicated to people with serious health conditions so you must read the medication guide or consult your doctor before buying the pills.
Weight loss medicines
Sport is also needed at this age in order to tighten the skin sagging after losing weight - it itself, unfortunately, will not go anywhere. After 25 years, the production of collagen and elastin fibers stops in the skin. This, by the way, is one of the reasons why you need to lose weight slowly enough - so that the skin has time to tighten. Flabbiness also occurs in the absence of physical exertion. Even ordinary dancing will restore the skin to its usual elasticity. The main thing is regularly and intensively.
Cosmetology procedures will also help. At home measures are a contrast shower, body massage with a hard washcloth to improve blood circulation and use of moisturizers and lotions. It is good to take baths with sea salt.
Post by: Kylie Richardson, General Practitioner, Rotterdam, Netherlands
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