Have you been tempted to try Couch to 5k for weight loss as a woman over forty? Here’s why it might not be the best idea…

We’ve worked with thousands of women over forty to help them achieve their fat loss goals. In our experience, many of these clients have tried Couch to 5k for weight loss… however, they’ve always had varying results.

We regularly see cases of women going out running every week… only to see no results in the mirror. This can be incredibly frustrating!

These women are running miles and miles every week. They’re pointing the pavement and sweating buckets… only to step on the scales and see zero movement.

They’re trying extremely hard, and often wonder why they’re not seeing the results they expect. Sometimes, they even think that this excess weight is just part of the ageing process (which it’s not!). The reason this happens is simple…

Should you try Couch to 5k for weight loss?

Simply put, running is NOT the ideal way to drop a dress size as a woman over forty.

In our most recent podcast, we explained exactly why Couch to 5k is not ideal for weight loss…. And discuss why running might even be hindering progress.

In this blog, we reveal the exercise plan we use with our clients. This plan helps women over forty to drop two dress sizes, feel amazing and regain confidence… all in just 12 weeks!

Running for women over forty

Most people believe that running is necessary for weight loss. This may be due to most runners having a fit physique, or being ‘thin’.

Running is excellent for a number of health benefits, including:

  • Improving cardiovascular fitness, if you’re already relatively lean
  • Improving your mental health, if you can run steadily for a decent distance

However, what most new runners don’t realise is that few people lose weight through running. This is especially true as they get older.

Often, advocates for running are already thin, which means running is a way to maintain their weight. In our experience coaching thousands of women over forty… it can actually be really difficult to lose weight. In most cases, you may not see any results at all.

Intense cardio and stress

Your body responds to different stress the same way; by increasing cortisol. This can lead to a number of negative side effects, which can be triggered by this intense cardio state.

Increased cortisol can lead to:

  • Leptin resistance, which causes increased cravings
  • Insulin resistance, which makes you more likely to store fat (especially around the middle)
  • Thyroid deregulation, which slows down metabolism

As you get older, this stress response increases. It lasts for much longer, and is three times larger in women than men! This means it can be much harder to stick to, due to increased hunger. Plus, results will be worse, due to a slower metabolism and poor consistency. 

Negative side effects

Trying Couch to 5k for weight loss can cause a number of problems. Unfortunately, these side effects can actually hinder fat loss efforts.

For example, running can be incredibly difficult on your knees and joints… especially if carrying excess weight. Impact forces up to 5.5x your body weight onto your knees, which can quickly deteriorate your joints. Often, this results in having to stop running altogether shortly after.

Burning calories

On top of this, running doesn’t actually burn than many calories. A five kilometre run will burn around 300 calories for the average woman. Relatively, this is equivalent to a large glass of wine, a small bar of chocolate or half a slice of cake…

In reality, you can’t out-exercise a bad diet. Instead, you need to focus on getting your diet right. Your consumption needs will be unique to your body, and needs to factor in your age, height, weight, activity levels, hormonal state and medical conditions. 

Burning muscle

As a woman over forty, it’s incredibly important to preserve muscle for weight loss. The more muscle you have, the more toned you’ll be, the stronger you’ll be and the faster your metabolism.

As you get older, your body loses muscle more easily… especially with the wrong type of exercise.

Steady state cardio, such as running, burns muscle in preference to fat. This means that, when running, you’re likely to be having a direct impact on your metabolism. This can lead to a flabbier physique and more fat around the middle!

What should you do instead?

To lose weight as a woman over forty, it’s imperative to exercise in the right way. The solution is to pick a type of exercise which keeps cortisol levels low to moderate.

Rather than running or HIIT, which puts stress on the body and joints… you’ll want to focus on exercise which gives you great results. After turning forty, it’s important to keep moving in the right way.

We recommend focusing on low-impact strength training. LIST training involves lifting weights in a controlled way. This method still burns plenty of calories, but it also has a number of added benefits:

  • It keeps stress hormone levels low, so you’re body is kept in a state which is easier for weight loss
  • It increases muscle mass, which means you’ll feel firm and toned… as well as increasing your metabolism
  • It helps to increase your bone density, which helps to combat osteoporosis

Doing this three to four times a week is the key to seeing amazing results in the mirror for women in their 40s and 50s. We do this for clients inside our Fit Over 40 program and they typically lose 1-2 stone every 12 weeks!

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!

Snacks to lose weight