The Key to Weight Loss in Your 40s and 50s – 7 Top Tips
Just because you’re over 40 doesn’t have to mean you can’t lose weight. Many women have told me once you hit 40, keeping the weight off is nearly impossible. I’ve not found that to be true. In fact, I’m in better shape now than I was in my late teens. Remember the freshman fifteen? Anyway, there are really simple ways to lose weight. And they’re not exclusive to the young. Sure, the body ages. But, there’s absolutely no reason it should carry weight above its normal range. Interested in learning more about the key to weight loss in your 40’s and 50’s? If so, read on.
You need to commit to HIIT
I swear by 20 minutes of high intensity interval training 2-3 times per week. This form of exercise, also known as burst training, and sometimes tabata, is incredibly effective for weight loss. The cool thing about this form of weight loss training (and yes, it is a kind of weight loss training) is that you don’t have to do it for very long. A mere 20 minutes, just 2-3 times per week is all you really need.
I typically follow a 20-minute routine on Youtube, 2 times a week. It’s challenging, and leaves me breathing heavily, my heart pounding. But that’s what it’s supposed to do. It’s called anaerobic exercise, and it burns a lot of calories in a brief period of time. In fact, studies like this one, published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, show just how effective high intensity interval training is when it comes to calorie expenditure.
Another cool thing about HIIT, is that you significantly raise your metabolic rate during training, and then it remains high for hours, even after you’ve finished exercising. Studies like this one, published in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, set out to prove that. HIIT may also burn fat by making metabolism use stored fat for energy, as opposed to using carbohydrates for energy. HIIT is a truly effective key to weight loss in your 40’s and 50’s. It has amazing effects on the body, and I encourage you all to try it if you haven’t already!
Strength training should be a part of your routine
In addition to high intensity interval training, you should also supplement your workouts with various forms of strength training. I suggest spending three dedicated days each week building muscle mass. Just like HIIT, building muscle mass improves metabolism. Your body burns calories for hours after you’ve worked out. This works with the many strength training techniques out there. There’s weight lifting, of course. And then Pilates. Calisthenics, and different forms of yoga also build strength in different ways. Pick what you like, something you’ll stick to.
For me, I love yoga, in its many forms. There are so many yoga poses and sequences created to build all the muscles in your body. Many classes target the core muscles, and many build strength in the legs and booty. Then there are arm balances which build the upper body, as well as the core. Certain yoga postures build muscles throughout the entire body. This is why a strong yoga practice can really keep you fit and youthful. I like to mix up my favorite yoga routines, which keeps me interested, engaged, and inspired.
But, I also need to remember to use free weights every once in a while to supplement. Resistance bands are good, too, and great for traveling because they’re so lightweight and easy to pack. Working the body in a variety of different ways to build muscle is really the most efficient way to do it. I notice this clearly when all I do is one form of exercise for a while. Then, when I switch to another form, I can tell my body is rusty. That’s why it’s good to stay committed to all the different types of workouts, and mix them up throughout your week.
When you combine strength training with high intensity interval training, you have a winning combination for weight loss—no matter how old you are.
Learn how to manage stress
You probably know all about cortisol. It’s the stress hormone, and it wreaks havoc with our ability to lose weight and sustain weight loss. As we get older, our hormones play a more important role in weight loss because they’re in a greater state of flux, compared to our younger years. By the time we’ve made it to our 40’s and 50’s, many of us can relate to the statement, “I feel as if my nerves are shot.” That’s because we’ve been experiencing chronically high levels of cortisol, as we navigate our way through adult life experiences. It’s stressful to live in modern society, for so many different reasons. And stress is rampant.
This stress (especially when it becomes the norm in our 40’s and 50’s) inhibits our ability to sustain weight loss. When cortisol goes into the bloodstream in higher than normal amounts, over a long period of time, our body holds onto belly fat. This study, published in the journal Obesity Research, explains why this is the case.
Then there’s the whole overeating when you’re stressed out scenario. Many of us tend to either overeat, or undereat, both which negatively impact our delicate hormonal balance. But, overeating seriously sabotages our ability to lose weight in our 40’s and 50's. Chronic stress can put us into a depressed state in which we can’t motivate ourselves to exercise or eat the right foods in moderation.
So, it’s important to have a go-to anti-stress routine in your pocket. Maybe it’s time to get serious about meditation. Or yoga. Maybe you need to treat yourself to regular professional massages. Perhaps it’s time to explore the vast world of soothing essential oils. Or maybe it’s time to start training as an athlete. When you’re biking, swimming, or running for extended amounts of time, stress naturally melts away. Find what it is that puts you into a flow state, and the stress will stop sabotaging your weight loss efforts.
Balance your hormones
Addressing any hormonal imbalances you might have, is key to weight loss in your 40’s and 50’s. Our hormones change dramatically as we get older—especially in our 40’s and 50’s. It’s during this time when all women go through perimenopause and some men go through andropause, to varying degrees. Well, here’s the thing. Your weight and your hormones are intricately connected. If you’re experiencing hormonal imbalances that you’re unaware of, weight loss may be quite difficult.
In order to lose weight, hormonal imbalances need to be addressed. If specific hormones are out of whack, you gain weight. Insulin, for example, stores blood sugar or makes use of it, depending upon the body’s needs. It’s a powerful hormone because it chooses how much fat to store and how much to convert to energy. If the body develops a resistance to insulin, as is the case with diabetics, weight gain typically ensues. If insulin levels are chronically high, your metabolism suffers. You become overweight and in extreme cases, obese.
So, how do you prevent insulin resistance? As with so many things, one of the answers lies in the foods we feed ourselves, as well as the quantity of certain foods. For example, a study published in the journal Diabetes, found that overeating certain foods led to insulin resistance. The foods in question are those that cause inflammation. Think the usual culprits—processed sugars, refined carbs, and fast food in general.
You’ll also want to pay attention to leptin. Leptin is a hormone that helps you maintain a balanced appetite. Stored in the fat cells, this is the hormone that makes you feel full. If your leptin levels are intact, you won’t overeat, because you feel adequately satiated after a meal. If they’re out of balance, you’ll tend to overeat, because leptin isn’t communicating with the hypothalamus the way it’s supposed to. So, what’s a guy or gal to do? Eat the right foods, in the right amounts.
Leptin is a lot like insulin in that eating the wrong foods causes an imbalance. In fact, like insulin, you can become resistant to leptin. Leptin resistance wreaks havoc with weight loss efforts. Anyone who’s become dramatically overweight has through the roof leptin levels. This is just the way your hormones work. This study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, delves deeper into the subject.
When it comes to leptin resistance, prevention is key. Because it’s really hard to balance leptin levels after they’ve become chronically imbalanced. Your hypothalamus and leptin have a communication breakdown. And suddenly, they no longer know how to talk to eachother. In other words, your body can no longer tell when it’s full and when to stop eating. And so it continues to eat. To prevent this communication breakdown, avoid eating sugar. Eat a diet that’s ripe with anti-inflammatory foods. Supplementation with a good fish oil also helps. Regular exercise and good sleep are also key. All the fake foods containing refined oils, refined sugars, and artificial additives are the ones to cut out of your diet completely in order to maintain healthy levels of leptin and restore leptin balance if it’s gone haywire.
One more hormone we need to pay attention to is ghrelin. This is the hormone that regulates hunger. When you’re overweight or obese, you don’t have enough ghrelin. This study, published in the journal Diabetes, explains why and how this is true. Whenever your stomach has been empty for a while and is ready to be nourished, this hormone enters the bloodstream telling your hypothalamus that it’s time to eat. Once you’ve eaten, and your stomach is full, ghrelin levels are low.
If you suspect you might be having an issue with this hormone, simply take a few dietary steps such as these:
- Don’t eat sugar, and avoid high fructose corn syrup at all costs. A study published in Nutritional Diabetes, explains how high fructose corn syrup messes with your ghrelin levels. Check it out if you want to learn more. And check labels to avoid this highly processed sugar.
- Make sure you’re eating enough protein. This study shows how important it is to eat adequate amounts of protein in your diet to maintain healthy ghrelin levels.
Eat healthy fats, loads of veggies, and limit carbs to support your weight loss efforts
Another piece of the dietary puzzle when you need an extra boost in your 40’s and 50’s are carbohydrates. Many studies show that limiting simple carbs in your diet is also key to weight loss. A study published in the journal Nutrition and Metabolism, found that restricting carbohydrates helped prevent metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is something we all want to avoid if we’re going to maintain a healthy weight in our 40’s and 50’s.
As you well know, all vegetables are good for you. So, load up on them. Fruits are great, too. But, veggies are even better. To lose weight in your 40’s and 50’s, make sure you get into the habit of filling your plate with more veggies than you ever did before. You’re going to be taking in loads of nutrients, and your body’s going to become full on the foods that help you lose weight, rather than on the ones that don’t. Also, the healthier you eat, the less you’re going to crave the sugary stuff and the simple carbs like breads and pastas. Those foods should be eaten as a special treat. And make sure you get plenty of healthy fats in your diet. Good fats actually help you lose weight. So eat fatty fish, avocados, almond butter, various nuts and seeds, eggs, cheese, extra-virgin olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, and dark chocolate.
Just because you’re getting older doesn’t mean you have to fight to lose weight. With the proper diet, and a few healthy lifestyle habits, you can look and feel better than ever before!