4 top tips, from over 40s fitness expert Melissa Neill, on how to strip body fat and lose weight over 40.
Many women not only gain weight after the age of 40 but find it much more difficult to lose weight. Hormones have a huge part to play in this frustrating development. I know from my own experience that what worked when you were in your 20s and 30s will not necessarily work in your 40s and you have to work a lot harder to either get in or remain in shape.
Why is it more difficult to stay in shape after 40?
There are a number of factors at play after 40. Certainly, there are some hormonal changes and many women in this age category, particularly late 40s will be experiencing the peri (or pre)-menopause. This means that hormones are decreasing including estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. Some women will address the menopause symptoms that go alongside this with Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). But taking HRT is not the solution for addressing weight gain or trying to lose weight because hormones are not the only thing that may be preventing you from losing weight. Women naturally lose muscle and gain fat as we get older, so that muscle loss slows down the rate that we burn fat, resulting in a slower metabolism.
Five steps we can take to get and stay in shape after 40
We need to pay much closer attention to diet as we get older. We can no longer get away with how we ate in our 20s and 30s. I would recommend a whole food diet with healthy grains and carbohydrates, healthy fats with a relatively high amount of protein. I am not a fan of faddy, quick-fix diets as in the long term they can damage your metabolism which is why many women find they gain even more weight when they come off a diet. You will need to watch your sugar and alcohol intake and keep these down to very small amounts or cut them out completely if you are going to succeed. I know this will seem quite painful at first, but remember we cannot eat how we did in our 20s and 30s if we expect to be in the same shape we were back then.
Consider logging and restricting your calorie intake. You need to know how much you are eating and whether you are getting the right amount of fats, protein and carbohydrate. Downloading an app like My Fitness Pal will really help to firstly understand what you are eating and how much you need to eat to maintain your current weight, then how much you need to cut back on if your goal is to lose weight. I will write a separate blog to help you with this.
Ensure you have an exercise plan in place and you stick to it. You will need to make a commitment, so if you have some form of goal to work towards, that always helps. Perhaps for a holiday you would like to get to a certain weight or lose a number of inches so set those goals to keep you focussed on what you are trying to achieve. Then choose an exercise plan you know you can stick to which includes something you enjoy doing. You will need to work harder than you did in your 20s and 30s to get in good shape. Accept it and embrace it!
Because (as I have stated above) you have lost muscle you need to work on putting it back on. The best way to do this is to incorporate weight training into your exercise plan. You will not get bulky! Instead, you will get toned and put the muscle back that you have lost over the years. This will give your metabolism a much-needed boost. Weight training will avoid the need for lots of cardio exercise. I only generally do 1-2 hours of cardio a week and I am very lean.
Finally take your time. Rome was not built in a day! If you lose weight too quickly you will be less likely to keep it off and damage your metabolism as your body will adapt to the really low calories you are feeding it. Once you come off the diet the weight will just come piling back on. If you reduce your calories by a small margin and take your time by eating sensibly you will also avoid the temptation to binge as you will not be hungry. Give yourself a year or maybe 2 to 3 years depending on how much weight you need to lose. You can set milestones leading up to the first year.
Side note: You may not need to lose scale weight but rather want to change the composition of your body so you have less body fat. The same applies in that case but you will really need to focus on step 4 above if you want to change your body composition and diet is really key also. I have been through this transition so I will make a separate video about changing your body composition.
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