Looking to start a new health kick this year? Here are 5 diets to avoid in January so you can reach your goals this year.

It’s incredibly common for women to want to start new habits around New Year’s. By making resolutions and setting goals for the year, they’re keen to see the results they deserve. It’s also difficult to know which diets to avoid.

Many women over 40 are looking to drop a couple of dress sizes and fit back into their favourite clothes (especially after that Christmas weight gain). Perhaps you’re looking to see some results yourself…

One of the biggest sources of confusion for many women over 40, is which diet they should follow in January. There are so many approaches out there, and it’s difficult to know which one is going to give fast and sustainable results in the mirror. This is especially true for women aged 40 and over.

The problem that women over 40 face is unique. As you age, your body and hormones start to change. This can make it easier to gain weight around the middle area, and even more difficult to lose it again with conventional dieting. This means that many women start new diets in January, only to see no results (or very slow results). They then give up after the first few weeks.

This is all because most dieting approaches are not designed to work well for women over 40. This leaves many women feeling completely stuck… trying all the diets which worked in their 20s and 30s but seeing zero results in the mirror.

And then, next January comes around and they’re in the same situation again – but another stone heavier!

The good news is it doesn’t have to be this way. If you know which diets to avoid and which diets will work for you, it’s possible to quickly and easily drop a couple of dress sizes before summer. This way, you could be feeling amazing wearing anything you like next year!

In our most recent podcast episode, we discuss five of the most common diets to avoid for women over 40. Plus, we include what to do instead to lose 1-2 stone in the next 12 weeks!

Choose a diet which works for your body

There are three things you need from any weight loss strategy to succeed as a woman over 40. The first is to find one which works with your body’s changing hormones. Menopause can lead to a change in oestrogen and progesterone, which can have huge impacts on what you should eat to stay healthy.

It’s also important to keep stress levels low on the body. With sensitivity to stress increasing with age, stress levels spike for women over forty. This can lead to leptin resistance, insulin resistance and thyroid deregulation – all which contribute to a slower metabolism and increased cravings. You need a lifestyle which keeps stress levels on the body low and works to minimise the impact of menopause.

Below, we discuss five of the most common weight loss strategies that don’t work for women over 40, and what to do instead to lose 1-2 stone in the next 12 weeks!

Eating a very low-calorie diet e.g. 1200kcal

Eating a very low-calorie diet does not work well for women over forty. Whether it’s the Fast 800, tracking calories or the 5:2 diet, you may be able to away with this when you’re younger.

After turning forty, the body perceives very low-calorie dieting as another source of stress. This adds to the total stress (allostatic stress) on the body and spikes cortisol levels. This leads to it being much harder to lose weight and easier to gain it. It often means people can’t lose weight AND they’re starving hungry all the time!

For women over forty, there’s a specific calorie sweet spot that’s high enough to avoid over-stressing the body, and low enough to consistently lose 1-2lbs every week. We calculate this for every client who joins our Fit Over 40 program based off specific information, including:

  • Menopausal or not
  • Dieting history
  • Age, height, weight

This means our members are able to keep their stress levels low, enjoy eating the things they like without feeling hungry AND lose 1-2 stone every 12 weeks!

Slimming clubs

There are a few good benefits to slimming groups, including being part of a community, having some sort of plan or structure, and having some group accountability (if you go to the meetings).

However, there’s a few issues too. For example being able to fill up on “Free Food”. Most of these plans allow you to eat some foods for “free”, such as bananas (89 calories each) or salmon (209 calories per 100g). The problem with this, is you could easily consume a “free” 300-400 extra calories per day and that could be all it takes to mean you see zero results in the mirror.

Doing this is like pouring a glass of wine wearing a blindfold. You don’t know how much wine you are actually pouring because some of it “doesn’t count”. Maybe you’ll fill up the glass perfectly, but most likely you’re going to get it under or over the correct amount.

Additionally, these groups recommend little exercise, or the wrong type of exercise. Most slimming clubs don’t include an effective exercise program, and this can be for a fairly sinister reason. Many actively encourage people NOT to bother exercising much, because if you combine low-calorie dieting with no exercise (especially no strength-based exercise) your body will burn its muscle stores first.

Most of the weight loss you’ll see on a diet like this is from muscle loss NOT fat loss! This makes you more flabby and saggy, feel older, AND it makes your metabolism slower (making it harder and harder to sustain weight loss).

Instead, we recommend you learn how to take control of your own nutrition, specifically what is right for women over 40, so you can always figure out the right solution for you.


A lot of slim people run, so the assumption most people make is running is good for losing weight. While running can work to STAY slim if you’re already slim and in your 20s and 30s, running is not effective for women over 40 to lose weight.

Why is this? This is largely due to it being high impact and high stress. If you find running hard, it’s likely it will spike your stress hormone levels and trigger the weight gain triangle, making it harder to lose weight and easier to gain it.

Plus, it burns muscles. Cardio, especially for 30 minutes or longer, is catabolic, meaning it burns muscle. Muscle is what makes you feel firm and toned, and also what keeps your metabolism higher, so running can make you feel flabbier and have to eat less just to maintain your weight.

Gym classes

Similar to running, gym classes can be high impact, for example HIIT body pump. This is fine if you’re young and lean and not carrying any excess body fat. This is bad for your joints if you’re carrying excess weight, and can lead to pain and injury and needing to stop.

Plus, they are often highly stressful on the body – even more stressful on the body than running. Again, this can be fine for women in their 20s and 30s who’s hormones aren’t changing and who’s body’s can still tolerate higher stress levels. For women over 40, this can spike cortisol levels and trigger the weight gain triangle again.

Instead, to lose weight effectively as a woman over 40 you need something that keeps stress on the body, and is gentle on the joints and low impact. You also need one which builds muscle, so you can increase your metabolism.

Trying to diet on your own with no support

It’s easy to fail in private. Most people feel motivated for 1-2 weeks, then life takes over and they give up with NO consequences. If you were going to succeed on your own you probably would have already done it!

We recommend you save yourself years and lots of struggle by getting a proven program tailored to you. For example, you could try to fix your car yourself, but you need a lot of time to learn how to do it yourself since it’s not your area of expertise. Or, you could invest in an expert with a proven track record to fix it out for you!

Find out more about how we can help by clicking here!

Snacks to lose weight