Recently, several of my female friends who are over 40 noticed they gained weight in the last few years. After a visit to their healthcare provider and finding out that the weight gain was probably not just related to hormones, I was the next one they called, their friend, the Registered Dietitian. My friends assumed I could provide them with a ‘magic bullet diet’ that could melt away 10 pounds quickly.
Instead, I deliver the news that as we mature our metabolism decreases and how our body stores fat changes. Also, there is no ‘magic bullet diet’ for losing weight quickly that is healthy and can be maintained. In fact, diets in general don’t work; however, having healthy behaviors (diet and physical activity) can promote weight loss, and are easier to maintain than restrictive diets.
Here are some of the tips I shared with my friends for slimming down after 40.
1. Eat more plant-based foods like fruits and vegetables. These colorful powerhouse foods are low in calories, full of nutrients, and high in fiber which provides satiety or ‘a feeling of being full’, and therefore, you will eat less calories. Add some whole grain-rich foods for an added boost of fiber.
2. Don’t skip meals, especially breakfast. ‘Breaking the fast’ with a morning meal will jump start your metabolism and burn more calories. Eating breakfast will also prevent that mid-morning hunger which may cause you to eat something that is high in calories. Eating small meals frequently is also a good option for keeping your appetite in check throughout the day.
3. Consider the timing of your meals. There is some evidence that consuming most of your calories by mid-afternoon (before 3 p.m.), may help drop some pounds as opposed to eating a big dinner meal or heavy snacks in the evening. Regardless, it matters what you eat. To reduce calories, make it a habit to choose lower calorie options of the foods you enjoy.
4. Cooking methods matter. Pay attention to the way you prepare food. Instead of frying food or cooking it in butter or oil, try grilling, baking, or broiling. Do the same at good restaurants too; skip foods that are fried or that come in creamy sauces.
5. Get moving! Aim for 150 minutes of physical activity each week and schedule it! Make sure it’s on your weekly calendar, and ask a friend to join you. Having an ‘activity partner’ will keep you both motivated. Also, mix up the activities and your partners. I run with one friend, bike with another and take a fitness class with yet another friend. It’s a great way to socialize and get those weekly minutes in.
Don’t be hard on yourself. Accept that your body and metabolism is changing and embrace your ‘maturity’. This could be a great opportunity to revisit your health behaviors and really focus on your health for the next 40 years (or more).
For more weight loss tips and information about women’s health issues, check out these websites:
- HealthyWomen is an American nonprofit organization which provides women with health information on a wide range of issues important to women. https://www.healthywomen.org/
- The Office on Women’s Health (OWH) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) was established in 1991 to improve the health of U.S. women. Their mission is to improve the health of women and girls through policy, education, and innovative programs. https://www.womenshealth.gov/
- Johns Hopkins Women’s Health page provides information on a variety of health issues that affect women. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/womens-health