Here are 21 tried and tested tips for losing weight after 40 as a woman👇
Losing weight after turning 40 can seem hard to achieve for most women. Whether it’s through HIIT training, cutting out carbs or joining a slimming club… often the methods that used to work well no longer produce the same results (no matter how hard you try!). This can be demoralising for many women over 40… leaving them feeling stuck and ready to give up!
Have you ever wondered if losing weight is possible when heading towards the menopause? You’re not alone! Many of our clients used to believe they were destined to become old, frail and frumpy… and that this was just part of the ageing process they’d have to accept. It’s a horrible place to be in, and we wouldn’t wish that on anybody!
The good news? With the right approach, it’s possible to quickly and easily lose weight after 40.
We’ve worked with 1000s of women over 40 who’ve previously struggled to lose weight to get the scales moving… but turning that all around is easier than you might think.
The key to losing weight after turning 40 is to make sure your approach works with your body – rather than against it. Women bodies and hormones change ; so your strategies must change too. If they do, there’s no reason why you can’t be feeling fit, lean and fabulous in just a few months’ time!
To kickstart your journey, there are 21 proven strategies you can use for losing weight as a woman over 40. Here, we’ve detail how you can implement each one into your life, so you can get the scales moving again! Before you know it, you’ll be bursting with energy in as little as 12 weeks!
1. Manage your stress levels
High stress levels are known to elevate the hormone cortisol. If cortisol is too high for too long, it can come with some dire side effects, including:
- Leptin resistance, which leads to increased cravings and hunger
- Insulin resistance, which makes it easier to gain weight – especially around the middle
- Impacts to the thyroid, which leads to a slower metabolism
These side effects, often referred to as the stress response, get even worse with age. The cherry on the cake? They can be three times worse in women than men!
Luckily, you don’t have to quit your day job and live in a commune somewhere to lower these side effects. Managing your stress levels is vital for seeing success when losing weight over 40… and every strategy here will help you to do so.
2. Avoid fad diets to lose weight after 40
Fad diets may have worked when you were younger, but they might just be the reason you’re not seeing results.
Typical go-to fad diets include:
- Shake diets or juice cleanses
- Cutting out entire food groups (e.g. cutting out carbs)
- Restricting calories to 800/1200kcal per day
In our experience, starving yourself is extremely unsustainable. It usually leads to binging at the weekend or in the evenings, making it easy to undo all your hard work. Plus, it can slow your metabolism, as your body is not getting enough food.
Ultimately, if you can’t keep up a diet long-term, the results will only be temporary. This is why we always recommend finding a life-long diet that works for you. Something you feel confident you could stick to without it being a burden on your life.
3. Eat 3 meals a day (and make them count)
Skipping meals can be detrimental for weight loss, as it can lead to blood sugar crashes. These crashes can cause intense cravings… which is one of the reasons people tend to overeat (especially when tired or stressed).
Eating your bog-standard three meals a day may not seem like a diet, but that’s the point! Eating three solid meals will keep your blood sugar levels consistent. You’ll be able to keep cravings at bay and benefit from high energy levels all day!
4. Get protein and fibre in every meal
Protein and fibre digest slowly, so your energy levels remain consistent throughout the day. Think of it like putting a huge log on a fire – it keeps burning for hours.
These macronutrients will keep you full for hours… so you can avoid excess snacking or being led astray by cravings.
Your protein could come in the form of meat, fish, chicken, tuna, salmon, quorn, tofu, lentils, quinoa or pulses. Fibre is generally found in leafy greens and most fruit and veg, as well as whole grains and some seeds.
5. Be flexible with your approach
If you’re anything like our clients, you probably live a very hectic lifestyle. Whether it’s juggling work and family commitments, having back-to-back meetings or arranging childcare… life can typically get in the way.
If this is the case, it’s easy for something to go wrong. You might need to grab food on-the-go, fit a meal out with friends into your week, or improvise with exercise.
When you take a flexible approach, you can break through these common barriers to success so you’re MUCH more likely to succeed!
The most flexible approach to nutrition involves focusing on the key driver of fat loss (explained in detail in point #6). This way, you can eat out or grab food on-the-go, and still see results. We speak about this in our latest podcast episode, which you can find here.
6. Eat the right amount for you
There’s no ‘right amount’ of food for you to lose weight.
Numbers like 1200 or 800 calories get thrown around all the time, but in reality? Everyone’s different! Every person is unique, so the right amount of food for you will be completely different to everyone else.
The number of calories you need to lose weight is based on many things: Your age, height, weight, body fat percentage, hormones, dieting history and general activity levels.
An experienced coach will be able to come up with an accurate estimate for you. Otherwise, you may need to figure it out by trial and error. Eating the right amount for you will be a game-changer when it comes to weight loss.
7. Track your calorie intake
You can’t escape the basic science of weight loss: energy in vs energy out.
Calories are a measure of how much energy is in your food and drink. If you’re looking to lose weight, you must consume the right amount of calories for you. To lose weight, you need to do this consistently over the week… not too much, not too little!
ALL diets rely on restricting calories to make you lose weight, but may hide this behind a complicated method like a points system, a meal plan or a ‘special’ eating protocol. Often, these plans make it seem like they’re doing something special… but they’re simply limiting calorie intake!
For example, keto or low carb diets work by cutting out an entire food group. This then cuts a bunch of calories out of your diet. A points system works works in the exact same way as tracking calories (just less accurately).
The easiest and most flexible way to manage your energy intake is to track the calories you’re consuming… so you can avoid over-consuming them.
This approach is flexible. You can simple scan barcodes or look up meals when eating out and make them fit into your day.
8. Avoid HIIT and high-impact cardio
HIIT and high-impact cardio, such as running, are viewed by the body as a form of stress. This isn’t a problem for women in their 20s and 30s who have a relaxed and easy lifestyle.
However, women over 40 need to keep their stress levels under control to see movement on the scales. This means it’s better to focus on exercise that will still get you amazing results, but which does it without spiking your stress hormone levels…
9. Focus on low-impact strength training
Low-impact strength training (LIST training) involves lifting weights in a slow and controlled manner. This method still burns plenty of calories, like other forms of exercise, but it has many added benefits.
LIST keeps stress hormone levels low so your body remains in a better state for losing weight. It increases your muscle mass, which means you’ll achieve a firm and toned physique… all while increasing your metabolism! If that wasn’t enough, it also helps to increase bone density, which helps to combat osteoporosis.
This is exactly what we do with clients inside our Fit Over 40 programme. They’re able to lose 1-2 stone in 12 weeks, without any sweaty cardio whatsoever!
10. Try Meditation
As explained previously, it’s essential to keep stress hormone levels under control to lose weight over 40. Meditation is an excellent way to do this.
You don’t need to spend hours meditating to see results; a couple of minutes a day has a huge benefit. We recommend apps like Calm, Headspace or Insight Timer. And don’t worry about doing it perfectly, just start!
11. Take some ‘me time’ every week
Stress and boredom are two of the main causes of comfort eating (or drinking!).
For many of our clients, over-indulging is a huge problem. Since turning 40, their lives have revolved around work and family… with almost no time for themselves.
When there’s nothing to look forward to, food and drink can become the only exciting parts of the week. So, it’s easy to go overboard and undo all your hard work when the weekend arrives.
What’s the best way to combat this? We recommend planning in some ‘me time’ once a week which can make a huge difference! Ask a friend or your partner to watch the kids, and spend some time doing something which helps you to de-stress.
Whether that’s yoga, getting your nails done or having a bubble bath with a book… do something you look forward to which will help you unwind.
12. Focus on the little wins
Losing weight over 40 can seem like a long journey. It’s easy to get discouraged if results are slower than expected.
It’s normal to have weeks where you don’t see progress, even if you’re doing everything right. It’s human nature to focus on what’s not working, as we’re natural problem-solvers. This can lead to a downwards spiral of feeling deflated and demotivated!
This is where focusing on the little wins helps.
Whether it’s not hitting snooze in the morning, only having one biscuit when you’d have usually have two, or celebrating the fact you’ve not gained weight when going through a rough patch… celebrate your small wins! The easiest way to do this is to start writing them down – just a few each day.
The more you celebrate your wins, the more positive and motivated you’ll feel to keep going… even if you’re having a challenging week.
13. Get your steps in
Walking may not seem like proper exercise… but it makes a huge difference when it comes to losing weight after 40!
Many of the women we work with have become more and more sedentary since their careers have taken off. Being tied to a desk all day can have severe consequences when it comes to your weight and health. So, what do we recommend?
Getting in an extra 5,000 steps a day burns roughly 200 extra calories, which is the same as a quick workout! Plus, walking is a low-impact form of exercise which doesn’t over-stress the body.
You can also try making it fun as well! Walk with a friend or listen to an audiobook to make the time spent walking more enjoyable.
14. Try using a standing desk
If your work schedule is absolutely jam-packed and you don’t have time to walk, you could also try a standing desk.
Using a standing desk for 8 hours a day burns roughly 500 calories more than sitting (that’s as much as a big bar of Dairy Milk!). You could alternate between standing and sitting, and that would still burn 250 extra calories every single day (or the equivalent of walking 6,000 steps!).
It’s the little things which add up to big weight loss results. Using a standing desk could be the difference between maintaining your weight or losing a dress size over 12 weeks.
15. Reduce alcohol intake
Alcohol is super high in calories. At 7 calories per gram (almost double that of carbs and protein)… drinking too much can undo any hard work you put into eating well during the day.
Plus, alcohol lowers inhibitions – which is usually a slippery slope. Your good food choices go out the window, which can lead to snacking and indulging in comfort food.
If you struggle to limit yourself to just one drink, try cutting it out for a week or two to reduce your cravings. Afterwards, reintroduce it with some ground rules. This might be only indulging at the weekend or having a maximum of two small drinks a night.
16. Get 7-8 hours sleep a night
Sleep is very closely linked to weight loss.
A lack of sleep disrupts your hunger hormones, leptin and ghrelin. This leads to elevated cravings for comfort foods… and the feeling of fullness after eating is massively reduced.
To regulate your hormones properly and keep cravings at bay, you need 7-8 hours sleep a night. So, if you’re slacking on your ZZZs, it’s worth improving your routine and sleep environment to get the rest you need.
17. Consider HRT
If you’re perimenopausal or menopausal, your hormones will be changing a lot. Oestrogen and progesterone levels reduce to almost zero during this time. This can affect where your body fat’s stored so that more is stored around your middle. These changing hormones can also make it harder to lose weight due to the effect they have on things like mood and sleep.
The general understanding of HRT is very out-dated. Generally it’s now understood by experts to be healthier than the alternative. Check out Newson Health, the UK’s leading menopause and wellbeing centre, for more info – and to see if it could help you!
18. Get a coach who specialises in helping women over 40
The challenges you face every single week will be unique to you… and you may not have the knowledge or tools to best deal with your situation.
When your results hit a plateau, it can be easy to feel demoralised and give up! So, having an experienced coach by your side can be a game-changer. This way, you have a helping hand to guide you through whatever challenges you face… and to make sure you succeed no matter what!
19. Be part of a community
It’s important to surround yourself with people who are on the same mission as you. People who understand the struggles you’re going through.
When you’re going through a rough patch, you’re able to lean on the community around you for help and support… and you can also do this in return for others (which can make you feel great too!).
As president John F Kennedy said: “A rising tide raises all boats.” A community that’s succeeding will help you to succeed too!
20. Have someone keeping you accountable
Going it alone is difficult.
It’s easy to give up on yourself when you’ve had a bad week, but challenging weeks are normal. Unless you have something or someone there to make sure you keep going, you can quickly run out of steam and give up.
Losing weight as a woman over 40 is a marathon, not a sprint. You’ll need to stay consistent for weeks or months to create a dramatic transformation. Just like your boss keeps you accountable at work… having someone to keep you accountable with your health and fitness goals is critical.
21. Follow a plan that’s proven to work
As you can see, there are plenty of factors which need to be addressed to lose weight as a woman over 40. It may seem overwhelming to make so many changes all at once… and we don’t recommend trying to put all 20 of those steps into action at the same time!
A better approach is to break these steps down into little bite-sized chunks.To start with the most important things and build up over the course of a few months. This way, you won’t be overwhelmed, and you’ll see sustainable results in the long-term.
This is exactly what we do inside our Fit Over 40 programme, and our clients typically lose 1-2 stone in 12 weeks or less!
Looking to lose weight in lockdown? Check out our blog here!