Struggling to work out which diet is best when there’s so many out there? Here are 7 diets to never do as a woman over 40.

One of the most common questions we get asked about how to lose weight over 40 is: “What’s the best diet plan to drop a dress size for women over 40?”

We’ve worked with so many women in their 40s and 50s who felt stuck because they didn’t know what they should be eating to get the scales moving.

They’d step on the scales after a long week of “dieting” and see zero movement (or maybe even be heavier than before)!

And when you’re not seeing results it’s very hard to stay motivated.

The reason this happens is simple.

Women’s bodies and hormones start to change as they get older. This can make it easier to gain weight (especially around the middle) and harder to lose it again.

The problem a lot of women face is they’re doing the wrong type of diet plan for their body and hormones – meaning they see no results in the mirror.

But, if you follow the right approach, you can quickly and easily get the scales moving, drop a couple of dress sizes, and feel incredible wearing anything you like.

In today’s blog we’re going to reveal 7 diets you should never do as a woman over 40. We also let you know what to do instead if you want to see fast and sustainable results in the mirror.

You can also listen to this blog on our podcast.

1. Very low-calorie diets

In theory, there are some benefits to very low-calorie diets. You’ll see quick results, and you don’t need to exercise, which saves time and effort. However, the drawbacks are astronomical – especially for women over forty.

Most of the weight loss is not from body fat, it’s from water weight and muscle loss. This means you’ll end up flabby and weak, not toned.

It also negatively affects metabolism and cravings. You’ll develop a slower metabolism due to having less muscle. And have worse cravings for up to a year afterwards as it disrupts hunger hormones.

Usually, this leads to regaining all the weight and more in the long run.

Low calorie diets increase the body’s internal stress levels, which makes it hard to lose weight over 40. This can work well for women in their 20s and 30s. However, extreme dieting is interpreted as a source of stress by the body. For women over 40, this can trigger the weight gain triangle, actually making it harder to lose weight.

The only way to see good results as a women over 40 is to work with your changing body and hormones, rather than against it.

The goldilocks principle applies. You need to eat not too much, not too little – find somewhere just right. We do this with our clients using an approach called Hormonally Balanced Eating.

2. Low carb and ketogenic diets

Low carb diets are simple (ish) and you’ll likely see fast results initially. But the drawbacks are something to be aware of. 

The fast initial results aren’t all due to fat loss. The body stores carbs in muscles. And for every gram of carb stored, that equals 3-4g water weight. This carb weight and water weight is lost in the first 1-2 weeks of keto diets. Which looks like lots of fat loss, but it’s actually mostly just carb/water weight.

And low carb results are usually temporary, just like the diet. Unless you want to give up carbs forever (no pizza, no pasta, no rice, etc), then it doesn’t teach you how to fuel your body whilst still eating these things and living a normal life.

So, once you’re fed up of cutting out carbs, then you’ll return to eating how you did before and regain all the weight.

3. Plant-based/vegan diets

While plant-based diets could be healthier than normal diets, due to increased veggie consumption, they can have drawbacks. 

Vegan diets can still be done in an unhealthy way. You can still eat a lot of junk food and alcohol, and if you consume too many calories you won’t lose weight regardless of how many veggies you’re also eating!

It also is hard to get enough protein, as well as certain essential vitamins and minerals like iron and vitamin B12.

Vegan diets aren’t impossible to see weight loss results from, but it takes a lot more effort to get it to work. We don’t recommend it for weight loss.

4. Fasting

Fasting makes you eat less by restricting the amount of time you have to eat each day. It’s not some sort of magic fat burning approach, you simply restrict your eating in an unusual way.

So, what are the cons? 

You can still overeat within your eating window, meaning you won’t see any results unless you’re also tracking calories. Fasting also doesn’t deal with a lot of the root causes of weight gain over 40, such as stress and hormonal changes.

It’s not really a complete solution, just a simple tactic that should be part of a bigger strategy to lose weight over 40.

5. Juice or shake diets

Juice cleanses or shake diets are quick and easy to follow, and they’re very low effort. However, they’re not sustainable unless you plan on drinking shakes and juices for the rest of your life.

Shakes and meal replacements are often packed with sugar, so while they may help you lose weight, they are not particularly healthy.

They also have all the same disadvantages of a nutrition-only approach, as there is rarely any exercise advice given.

6. Exercise-only approaches

Couch to 5k (C25k), jogging, cycling, and walking all have plenty of benefits. They help mental health, get you out of the house, and burn some calories.

However, cardio also tends to make people very hungry. Intense cardio can raise stress hormone levels, and for women over 40 this can block any weight loss results.

Elevated cortisol (stress hormone) causes insulin resistance, leptin resistance and decreased thyroid function. This makes cravings worse, fat storage more likely, and your metabolism slower.

You can never out-exercise the wrong diet.

7. Just trying to eat clean

Eating healthier foods DOES make you healthier – don’t get us wrong. You can also expect to see better energy levels, and you will likely eat less if you can stick to it, so it may work for weight loss.

However, it can be difficult to “just eat better” for most people. It’s still possible to eat too much healthy food, and that will still cause you to gain weight!

There’s no flexibility to eat what you like, enjoy meals out with friends/family, or go to other people’s houses for dinner. Therefore, clean eating is hard to stick to long term.

What to do instead

For women over 40, you need to do the right thing. You should do something which will work with your changing body and hormones – rather than against it.

Hormonally balanced eating is our preferred approach, which has helped thousands of women over forty.

We also conduct a diet makeover with our clients. This aims to avoid hormone disrupting foods by cutting out wheat, alcohol, dairy and sugar for a short period of time. This gives a kick start to fat loss and gets cravings under control.

We also work with our clients to discover the right amount of the key three for them: calories, protein, and fibre.

Do this, and you can lose 1-2 dress sizes in 12 weeks!

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