Do meal plans work for women over forty? Here are our expert tips for weight loss.
At Trinity, we work with thousands of women over forty to help them get the scales moving. A common question we’re asked is if meal plans are worth investing time and energy into… or are they overrated?
In most cases, meal plan methods include having meticulously planned meals sent to your home every single week. You simply eat these meals full-time in hopes of losing weight.
While this may sound simple enough, many women find these diets are not effective in the long term. When you’re trying really hard to stick to such diets, it can be incredibly frustrating to not reap the rewards.
This can leave many women:
- Losing a couple of stone, only to re-gain all the weight when they go back to eating normally
- Finding it harder and harder to get the scales moving every time they try a new diet plan… feeling as if their body is fighting against their efforts
- Watching their waistline expand year after year… choosing clothes to cover up ‘problem areas’ rather than wearing what they like
- Feeling completely stuck and unable to shrink their waists… no matter what they try!
In our most recent podcast episode, we revealed the truth about meal plan diets. And, we explained why, in our experience, they don’t give the best results for women in their forties and fifties.
We also offer a much simpler (and more sustainable) approach to lose weight. This is the plan our clients use to drop 1-2 dress sizes in just 12 weeks… and then stay fit and healthy for life!
The benefits of meal plans
While we don’t recommend set meal plans for women over forty… there can be a number of benefits for some users. It’s important to be aware that they might come in handy for a variety of situations.
For example, meal plans tend to be based on a calorie deficit. You need to consume the correct number of calories in order to lose weight, and this scientific fact is well-known across the fitness industry. The amount of calories you need to consume reduces as you get older. This is due to hormonal changes, as well as activity levels usually decreasing (for example, at a desk job).
Monitoring this amount can be difficult when living a busy lifestyle. Yet, meal plans make it much easier! There’s no measuring or prepping needed, which means users can keep calories low really easily. Plus, most meal plans are based on whole foods rather than processed foods. This will keep you fuller for longer, and be better for your long-term health!
The drawbacks of meal plans
While meals plans have some benefits, in our experience, they aren’t helpful when trying to lose weight as a women over forty. But why?
These plans give roughly the same amount of calories for every person. And in most cases, this is an extremely low amount (1200 kcal)!
However, if the number of calories you consume is too low for your body… it can cause a number of negative side effects. For example, having low energy levels and feeling overly restricted with your food intake. Both of these factors can lead to increased cravings!
After a stressful week, where you’ve been starving hungry, it may be easy to throw in the towel. You might get to Friday and think ‘sod it, I deserve a treat’! This mindset makes it incredibly easy to undo all your hard work.
Exercising on meal plans
Another drawback to generic meal plans is that they don’t offer advice for exercise.
Exercise, especially strength training, builds muscle and benefits the body. This leads to a higher metabolism, and leaves you feeling firm and toned as you enter your forties and fifties!
Any diet without exercise will encourage muscle loss. While you may experience weight loss on the scales on a meal plan, this doesn’t necessarily mean you’re experiencing fat loss. Ultimately, you may accidentally be slowing down your metabolism… which leads to needing to consume fewer calories in order to keep the weight off.
Exercise is also important for your mood and mental health. It releases serotonin and dopamine (your happy hormones!). Without it, it’s easy to feel low and turn to food as a pick-me-up… and it can be even harder to stick to your meal plan!
Additionally, exercise burns extra calories… meaning you can eat more and still lose weight over forty. This makes your lifestyle feel a lot less restrictive!
In our experience, most generic quick-fix diet plans don’t actually want you to exercise… If you did, then you wouldn’t lose that muscle and your weight loss wouldn’t appear so dramatic!
Members of our Fit Over 40 program frequently tell us that they don’t feel restricted or hungry at all. Despite this, they’re able to lose 1-2 stone every 12 weeks! Even members who’ve never enjoyed exercise before say they enjoy this aspect of our program!
Poor quality food
Meal plans have one thing in common; they need to maximise their profit. At the end of the day, it’s a business model to keep making money!
Therefore, the contents in meal plans is usually of a low quality, and it can often be flavourless! In most cases, this makes it a huge chore to keep consistent. When you’re eating food that tastes uninspiring, you’re less likely to enjoy your diet. This can lead to cravings, and sometimes binging, as you’re searching for some flavour!
You need to stick to a meal plan religiously to see results…
Most mainstream meal plans don’t teach you how to manage your nutrition without a rigid meal plan. They want you to rely on them and pay them in the long term.
This means, in order to see good results, you need to eat separately from the rest of your family. Plus, you’ll feel inclined to avoid social occasions and gatherings with friends. On some occasions, such as if you’re travelling for work, it’ll be almost impossible to stick to your plan.
The lack of flexibility also means you’ll need to give up drinking… which can mean it’s difficult to fit in during social occasions. You’ll need to miss out on special occasions, like family birthdays and weddings, if you want to succeed… On the whole, this isn’t a sustainable diet approach.
Long term results
One of the largest factors to keeping weight off in the long term is to follow a sustainable diet. This should be one which doesn’t feel like a diet… but more a lifestyle.
Most meal plans don’t offer this important factor… meaning you’ll need to follow these plans forever to keep the weight off. Essentially, you aren’t taught how to manage your weight without a prepared plan.
This means you’re likely to go back to how you were eating before. The weight will pile back on, especially due to your lower metabolism and less muscle mass. This can be really demoralising!
So, what do we recommend instead?
In our experience, it’s important to manage your calorie intake for weight loss. You should aim to eat the right amount for you – no matter where this food comes from! This method takes into account your age, height, weight, body fat percentage, hormones, and any other health conditions… and should be just the right amount for your body.
The number of calories you need to consume will be unique to you. For example, it’ll be very different for someone who’s 4’10” compared to someone who’s 5’10”!
Combine this nutrition approach with the right type of exercise, and you’re on to a winner! We recommend LIST training to build lean, toned muscle… whilst keeping stress levels and hormone levels low.
Our clients go on to lose 1-2 stone every 12 weeks, even as a women over 40, using these methods!
Manage your weight easily
Our Fit Over 40 clients are able to socialise with friends and family, go out for meals in restaurants AND have the occasional takeaway… and they still drop a couple of dress sizes in just a few weeks.
We make sure to teach you HOW to manage your weight, instead of how to stick to a rigid ‘plan’. This means you’ll be able to learn how to eat and exercise for your body… and maintain your results. This way you can stay fit and healthy in the long term!
If you’re interested in finding a long-term, sustainable diet designed for women over 40, you can find out more about working with us here!