Trying to lose weight after 40 can be extremely challenging. Trust me, I know. It can seem as if you are doing everything possible to shed the pounds, yet you make little progress or none. I, too, have struggled with losing weight after 40.
The good news is that you can lose weight after 40! Conventional medicine will tell you that weight gain after 40 is just a natural part of life. In functional medicine, we approach weight loss by getting to the root cause of why you are putting on the pounds. I will tell you my proven approach to losing weight after 40, the challenges to weight loss, and the steps you can take. It’s not about vanity, there are health consequences to excess weight. Let’s talk about why it’s so hard to lose weight after 40.
Why Is It So Hard to Lose Weight After 40?
Family obligations and other life situations slow your activity levels as you age. What’s more, your body fat increases, your metabolism slows down, and muscle mass declines in your 40s. As a result, losing weight in your 40s is more difficult than in your 20s. Let’s discuss these changes your body goes through and why it makes it harder to lose weight in your 40s.
Changes in Activity and Hormone Levels
Changes in your activity levels are one of the main reasons that losing weight after 40 may be more challenging than before, and this happens for various reasons. Many of you work full-time jobs or have family or other obligations that command your time. I’ve been there and am a mother, CEO, bestselling author, and wife. It’s hard to find time to exercise every day and a lot of these activities may have you sitting most of the day.
The other challenge for most of you is your body and hormonal changes. Testosterone production declines in men after age 30, and testosterone plays a huge role in weight control for men. Testosterone regulating sex drive supports the production of red blood cells and sperm and promotes bone mass, fat distribution, and muscle growth. 1
For women, many of you are entering perimenopause, which is a natural part of a woman’s life with many challenges. Perimenopause can begin in your 40s or 50s. However, it usually starts after age 45. During perimenopause, your ovaries’ production of estrogen and progesterone slows and eventually stops. A decrease in estrogen is linked to lower muscle mass and increased fat stores for women, usually around the midsection.
When you add the loss of testosterone in men and estrogen in women to a decrease in activity, the pounds can pile on. The good news is that aerobic and anaerobic exercise increases estrogen and testosterone production, which helps your body increase lean muscle mass and burn fat.2Not to mention, exercise also helps to balance your hormones naturally.
Your Metabolism Slows Down
Your body metabolizes (breaks down) anything that enters your body. Metabolism is a chemical process that combines nutrients in your food with oxygen to create energy. Your body constantly uses energy from the food you eat, even when resting. Your body’s three primary energy sources are carbohydrates, protein, and fats, known as macronutrients. Carbohydrates are the preferred energy source because they are easier for your body to break down and turn into glucose.
If your body has enough glucose to provide energy, it stores excess fat and protein in your liver as glycogen, which your body can convert into glucose when levels get too low. However, the metabolism of fats and proteins for energy takes away from other processes that depend on them.
Calories, which hold no nutritional value, are the unit of measurement to tell you how much energy the food you are eating is providing your body. The number of calories your body uses is your basal metabolic rate, which is what most people think is just their metabolism.
As you get older, the metabolic process slows down significantly due to a loss of muscle mass.3 As a result, you burn calories at a slower rate. Other factors include your metabolic type, which I will discuss shortly, and your sex. Men tend to burn more calories than women and generally have less body fat.
Hypothyroidism also causes a general slowdown of your metabolic processes. This slowdown can be permanent if you don’t use functional medicine principles to correct it, which is why those who lose significant amounts of weight in a short time end up putting the weight back on.
Types of Metabolism
There are three different metabolic types: ectomorphs, mesomorphs, and endomorphs. You likely will identify with one of these. Understanding your metabolism type is essential to determining the right food and lifestyle choices for optimal weight. Let’s take a closer look.
- Ectomorph: This metabolic type typically has a long, lean body with little fat and little muscle. They struggle to put on weight because they have a fast metabolism, allowing them to burn calories much faster. A diet with a high-calorie intake filled with healthy fats such as olive or avocado oils, wild-caught fish, and fruits and vegetables is key to reaching an optimal weight with this body type.
- Mesomorph: The bodies are characterized by their athletic, solid, and well-defined bodies. This is commonly referred to as the “athlete’s body.” They aren’t overweight or underweight. However, they can gain both muscle and fat quickly. You will want to watch your calorie intake if you identify with this body type. However, this body type has a more challenging time losing weight than the other two types. This body type requires a balanced diet of carbohydrates, protein, and fat for optimal weight. This type also benefits from a protein supplement to curb sugar cravings and promote a healthy metabolism.
- Endomorph: Characterized by a large frame and a higher body fat percentage. If you gain weight or muscle easily and struggle to take it off, consider yourself this body type. This body type has the slowest metabolism of the three metabolic types because of its efficiency in storing nutrients and energy. They have faster rates of fatigue since the body is less inclined to use the stored nutrients and energy. If you identify with this body type, I recommend a diet high in protein, healthy fats, and leafy greens.
You’ve likely heard that stress contributes to weight gain. However, it goes far beyond the urge to reach for some chocolate after a long, stressful day. When you experience stress, your body releases a flood of cortisol, the hormone that powers your fight or flight response. One unfortunate side effect of cortisol is that it causes you to gain weight or prevents you from losing weight. Furthermore, when you’re chronically stressed, your cortisol levels go up, which can cause progressive weight gain.
Numerous studies show that when animals are stressed, they gain weight, even if they’re eating the same calories as before. If you have difficulty losing weight after 40, start by reducing your stress.
I don’t want you to feel hopeless. I know this can all sound like a lost cause. However, I’m here to tell you that you can lose weight after 40. I will tell you how to boost your metabolism and reach an optimal weight later.
Why You Want to Lose Weight After 40
You may wonder if you should even try to lose weight after 40. The short answer is yes, and you can lose weight after 40. I know because I have lost weight after 40, and I’ll share my secret in just a bit.
Maintaining a healthy weight as you get older is essential for optimal health. Losing excess weight, and especially belly fat can decrease your risk of a variety of health issues, including:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Fatty liver
- Breathing disorders
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease and stroke
- Kidney disease
- Sleep apnea
- Chronic fatigue
- Thyroid problems
- Premature aging and early death
The essential factor to remember is that weight loss is crucial for optimal health and to help you feel better. So, what is the secret to losing weight after 40? I will guide you through the functional medicine approach to weight loss, which includes optimizing your diet and overcoming underlying causes of weight gain.
How to Lose Weight after 40
Addressing the underlying cause of your weight gain is the first step. The next step is to take action. Here are other ways to lose weight after 40.
Boost Your Metabolism
If your metabolism has slowed, it can be frustrating to reach your optimal weight. The empowering part is that you CAN reverse a slow metabolism and support a healthy metabolic rate, even after 40.
Linoleic acid is the most common omega-6 fatty acid, and it’s found in industrial trans fats such as hardened vegetable fats in most baked goods such as margarine, butter, or ghee. The prefix “conjugated” has to do with the double bonds that occur in natural trans fats, which are very different from industrial trans fats.
CLA is a naturally occurring trans fat found in beef. However, there is no way to know how much CLA is in your beef. The amount of CLA in meat varies greatly depending on farming techniques, and it can be nearly impossible to get enough from diet alone.
CLA facilitates increased fat metabolism and improved lean muscle tone. Clinical evidence shows linoleic acid helps modulate the metabolism of fat. By increasing fat metabolism, CLA helps your body burn more calories throughout the day, even at rest, and enables you to utilize energy more efficiently.
Balance Your Hormones Naturally
As I mentioned earlier, hormones play a significant role in weight loss and weight gain. As you age, your body produces fewer hormones, and it’s just a natural progression. Some hormonal imbalances, however, can have other underlying causes beyond the natural aging processes, such as elevated blood sugar, poor sleep, hypothyroidism, birth control pills, and endocrine disruptors such as pesticides, herbicides, and plastics, or polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
The good news is that you can balance your hormones naturally by eating more protein, eliminating gluten and dairy from your diet, exercising, ditching plastic cookware and water bottles, and choosing non-toxic body products.
You can’t deny the physical benefits of exercise; however, the mental benefits are just as impressive. This is where endorphins come into play, and endorphins are released after 30 minutes of continuous activity. Moreover, endorphins lower cortisol levels, which helps reduce stress.
Moderate exercise is recommended for optimal weight loss. However, any activity that keeps you moving, such as taking a brisk walk, is beneficial. Start small and work your way up. Standing is better than sitting and walking is better than standing. I enjoy yoga, hiking, and swimming with my daughter, Elle, to get my body moving.
Your muscles are essential for bone density, strength, and overall health. Remember, your body starts to lose muscle as you age, and building muscle can increase your metabolism and help you burn more calories at rest. Good options to increase muscle mass include light weightlifting, body weight exercises, and Pilates.
Chronic stress can increase cortisol in your body and lead to high insulin levels. You may even end up craving more sugary and fatty junk food, resulting in more stubborn pounds and belly fat. Managing stress will increase your overall well-being and help with weight loss. I enjoy doing breathing exercises, meditation, dancing, and listening to uplifting music as some of my favorite ways to lower stress. I also take Adrenal Support every day to promote a balanced stress response.
Ditch the Alcohol and Soda
Alcohol adds unnecessary calories and sugar to your diet, not to mention most cocktails are loaded with processed sugar. Drinking alcohol may also increase your appetite, leading you to consume more calories. I recommend reducing your alcohol consumption to an occasional glass of wine or eliminating it if you’re trying to lose weight after 40.
Soda and other sugary soft drinks are also big culprits of weight gain. Don’t be fooled — diet soda is not better. Diet soda contains artificial sweeteners, preservatives, and often caffeine that can disrupt your health. Diet soda can also interfere with your hunger hormones, increase your appetite, and lead to weight gain.
Taking the steps I mentioned is essential if you’re trying to lose weight after 40. If you’re looking for added support to lose weight after 40, I will let you in on another one of my secrets.
The Myers Way® Optimal Weight Breakthrough™ Program
After working with thousands of patients and helping hundreds of them meet their weight loss goals, as well as tackling my own stubborn weight gain problem, I created The Myers Way® Optimal Weight Breakthrough™ Program, which includes CLA, Lean, and Double Chocolate Paleo Protein, as well as a comprehensive program and all the resources you need to get you on track towards achieving optimal weight.
In addition to the game-changing supplements, this program includes tools to help you on your path to optimal weight, including:
- Program guide: A walkthrough of the program with step-by-step instructions on how to get started and guides to your supplements and how to tame the toxins that can sabotage your weight loss efforts.
- Meal plans: I included two 30-day meal plans – a standard and a keto plan – that include a variety of delicious meals and snacks.
- Recipes: Simple and delicious recipes to nourish your body and enjoy your weight loss journey.
- Sleep guide: Tips to help you optimize your sleep and avoid some of the common pitfalls that will keep you from tossing and turning all night.
- Goal setter: Weekly tracker for you to write down your goals and track your amazing progress throughout the program – you’ll track increased energy, inches off your waist, better digestion, and of course, pounds lost.
- Activity tracker: A 30-day tracker keeps you motivated as you work towards your movement goals (regardless of where you’re starting) while following the program.
I want you to continue and build on your success after you complete this groundbreaking program, so I have also included a lifetime roadmap to help you make this a way of life after you’ve completed the first 30-days.
You cannot slow down aging or stop Mother Nature. However, the truth is that you can lose weight after 40 by supporting your metabolism, reducing stress, optimizing your diet, and exercising. Using these tools allows you to get on the path to your optimal weight!
- What are the symptoms of low testosterone, and how to increase it. Jenna Fletcher. Medical News Today. 2022.
- Effect of aerobic and anaerobic exercise on estrogen level, fat mass, and muscle mass among postmenopausal osteoporotic females. Zainab Abdul Razzak, Amna Aamir Khan, and Sumaira Imran Farooqui. International Journal of Health Sciences. 2021.
- How Much Does Your Metabolism Slow Down as You Age?. Dan Brennan, MD. WebMD. 2021.