Losing weight after 30

Is muffin top a given once you’ve hit the big 4-0? Think there’s nothing you can do to combat the inevitable? Think again!

The Truth: Sure, you can blame your excess weight and sluggish metabolism on your age, but the truth is that if you take a few precautions your body and metabolism can snap back into shape.

Blaming your belly fat or those extra five pounds on the fact that you’re getting older? Well, now’s the time to stop believing that weight gain is an inevitable part of aging. Yes, as we get older our hormone balance shifts in ways that encourage weight gain. For example, testosterone and DHEA levels decline in men, and women’s insulin-regulating hormones become less effective. These changes can decrease muscle mass, slow down your metabolism (some reports say by about 2 percent per decade after age 30), and sap your energy while increasing belly fat and insulin resistance. But it’s not hopeless! The more we eat clean, live clean, and work out, the better our hormone balance will be — and the healthier our metabolisms will remain. Here are some tips for mastering weight loss and your metabolism beyond age 40.

Eat more protein. Sarcopenia, or loss of muscle due to age, has been seen as inevitable, but a great deal of its severity is dictated by diet and exercise. Protein can help! One study found that men and women between ages 70 and 79 who ate the most protein lost 40 percent less lean mass than those who ate the least protein. Muscle burns more calories, increases your insulin sensitivity, and keeps your testosterone production higher so that you can help stave off age-related health conditions, such as metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and loss of libido.

Exercise regularly and amp up your intensity. I can’t tell you how many people just let exercise slide as they get older; then they turn around and blame their sluggish metabolism on their hormones. I’ll be honest — I don’t like to exercise. But the reality is, we have to do it. Your body needs exercise the way it needs oxygen and water. It’s crucial to maintain muscle mass as you age: A pound of muscle burns three times more calories than a pound of fat does, and muscles scoop up blood sugar and enhance your body’s insulin sensitivity. Try to challenge yourself and intensify your workouts by adding 20 minutes of resistance training or by increasing the incline on the treadmill. The main point? Continue to strengthen your muscles so they will help you burn more calories.

Eat clean. Our metabolism gets damaged by the chemicals and preservatives in our foods. Things like pesticides, growth hormones, trans fats, HFCS, etc. have all been linked to obesity and have even been labeled “obesogens” within the health and wellness community. Consume your foods in their most natural form as often as possible and this will have a huge impact on your metabolism overall.

The Bottom Line: Your body definitely changes as you age — there’s no getting around that fact. Yet if you continue to exercise on a regular basis and eat whole, real food, the effects of aging will be much less severe. Remember, age is only a number!

Contents

30 Easiest Ways to Lose Weight After 30

As if losing weight wasn’t hard enough already, science says that the older you get the harder it is for you to not only maintain and build muscle but also burn off fat. Even more difficult is the flood of new and greater responsibilities with growing families and job promotions that get in the way of your once routine spin classes and weekly dinner prep.

The thought of going on yet another diet might be seriously daunting, but the good news is you don’t have to—nor should you. Processed diet foods and wacky juice cleanses were a thing of your youth, so now it’s time to cut your wiser-self a break and start incorporating these easy changes to peel off the pounds post the big 3-0. And don’t forget to avoid these foods you should never eat after age 30!

1

Eat More Protein At Breakfast

“We all have a slower metabolism as we age, so what we can do to fight against that is making sure your muscle mass is there. One way to do that is by refueling our bodies with food and nutrition—specifically protein. Aim to get in 20-30 grams of protein per meal. I find that most women especially are not doing that at breakfast,” says Jessica Crandall Snyder, a Denver-based RD, Certified Diabetes Educator, and former National Spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

She recommends turning to eggs or egg beaters, peanut butter on a whole grain wrap, deli meats like lean low sodium ham or turkey, and Greek yogurt mixed with nuts and fruit as a breakfast parfait to fit in those grams early in the day. Read up on the best high-protein breakfast ideas so you reap the best benefits.

2

Ditch Artificial Sweeteners

According to Yale researchers, consuming artificial sweeteners can actually increase your sweet cravings and lead to excess calorie intake. When you eat something that tastes sweet, your brain thinks it’s getting something high calorie. When no calories are provided it causes your body to seek them elsewhere. Common brands like Sweet N’ Low and Splenda are actually 300 to 600 times sweeter than real sugar and, as a result, send your brain and body into a sweet-seeking frenzy and may actually cause you to overeat later. Sweeteners are such a hot topic that Eat This, Not That! released this exclusive report on every popular added sweetener—ranked.

3

Eat Every Few Hours

To keep your body burning calories efficiently it’s important to fuel up every few hours. “Our metabolism drops 1-2 percent per decade after age 25, so I recommend eating mini meals throughout the day to fight back. When we eat our metabolism revs up because we have to digest and absorb the food, so by eating six small meals a day instead of one big meal a day you can keep your metabolism humming,” says Jim White, owner of Jim White Fitness and Nutrition Studios in Virginia Beach.

4

Lift Heavier Weights

“Studies show that physically inactive people lose about 3-5 percent of their muscle mass per decade. I’m sure it’s a lot less in people that are strength training but do bear in mind that we have a physically inactive society,” says White. The loss of muscle is one of the biggest obstacles you face as you get older, but one of the best ways to combat that is by lifting heavier weights. According to research from the University of Alabama in Birmingham, dieters who lifted heavy weights lost fat, but retained muscle while those who just did cardio lost fat and muscle. Those heavy lifters also experienced a drop in clothing size. Remember: Bigger weights, smaller pants.

5

Lift More Often

You’ve got to lift heavy, but you’ve also got to lift consistently to see results. “Weight training and cardiovascular training are a must. We need to continue on rebuilding muscle, burning calories and working our hearts. For weight training you should aim for at least 2 days a week,” says White. Lifting will help you burn calories even when you step foot out of the gym. According to a study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, overweight, sedentary participants who did resistance training burned around 250 more calories on average compared to the non-exercise control group in the 24 hours following their sweat session.

6

Keep Up the Cardio

Even though you’ve upped your strength training, it’s still important to keep cardio in the mix because exercise increases our metabolism. “For cardiovascular training you need to fit in at least 150 minutes per week, but we recommend trying to get 220 minutes per week based on the physical activity guidelines of America,” says White.

7

Cut Back on Alcohol

From date nights and happy hours to evenings winding down with a glass or two of wine—alcohol always manages to creep its way into our daily activities and consequently onto our waistlines. “This is also a time where I see a lot of 30-year-olds get stressed. They’re at work all day and drink alcohol at night to cope—and we’re not just seeing just one glass. A lot of women are drinking 3-4 glasses at night and a lot of men are drinking 4-6 beers at night, which can be one of the biggest calorie pushers in the diet. If you don’t drink, don’t start. If you do, I would try to cut consumption in half first and then once you’ve mastered that try to wean off a little more or just drink on the weekends,” says White. Not loving this advice? Then at least check out these tips for healthy alcoholic drinks.

8

Drink More Water

Less alcohol and more water is one of the simplest ways to supercharge your weight loss results at any age and can be especially helpful as you get older. According to a study published in the journal Obesity, drinking 16 ounces of water before meals can lead to greater weight loss. The rationale behind this is that the water fills you up and helps increase feelings of fullness, causing you to eat less and curb cravings.

9

Embrace Fitness Tech

If you just can’t seem to get yourself to the gym, then you’ve got to bring the gym to you. The uptick in wearable fitness technology and applications rips the ever popular ‘I have no time’ excuse to shreds. “Time is of the essence so I always recommend embracing technology,” says White. “People are skipping the gym now and working out on their own throughout the day. Wearables like the Fitbit, the Jawbone or the Nike Fuelband allow people to workout during the day. It all adds up in the long run and could be that extra 3-5 pounds per year that you could be losing,” he adds. However, while these steps certainly do add up, White does advise that this should not replace any of your more focused workouts.

10

Don’t Eliminate Entire Food Groups

You may have cut out all carbs or banned dairy in your youth as a quick attempt to shed a few pounds, but now that you’re a bit older and wiser it’s time to put those kiddie games to rest. When you remove entire food groups from your diet—or make any of these worst detox mistakes—you create nutrient deficiencies and actually make it harder for your body to lose weight and maintain weight loss long term because it’s not sustainable. Unless you have an allergy to certain types of food, a well-balanced diet and consistent portion control will bring you the longest lasting success.

11

Eat a Large Breakfast

If you skip breakfast, you’re not alone. Over 31 million Americans forgo their morning fuel every day according to a survey by the NPD Group. The bad news is, that skipping your early meal can prevent you from achieving the weight loss you want. A study from Tel Aviv University found that study participants who made breakfast their biggest meal of the day lost nearly twice as much weight as those who ate more at dinner. Mom was right—Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day.

12

Store the Kid Food Out of Sight

Out of sight, out of mind and really—out of mouth. With a few little ones running around you also have a few more snacks stocked than you used to. Whether it be Goldfish or sandwich bread, you weren’t eating those foods before the kids came into the picture (we hope) and there’s no reason you need to add them to your daily quota now. So do yourself a big favor and keep the goodies hidden and resist munching as you put together school lunches to avoid taking in unnecessary, excess calories.

13

Keep Calorie Intake Consistent

It’s been established that the older you get, the harder it is to lose weight. While it may seem tempting to take drastic measures and cut way back on calories, it’s not sustainable or effective in the long term. A report published in American Psychologist analyzed 31 separate long-term studies that examined participants on low-calorie diets (about 1,200 calories per day) and found that within four to five years, the majority of dieters in these studies regained the weight they had lost. If you’re sick of starting over again and again then do your best to keep your calorie intake at a healthy amount consistently. P.S. – Here are ways to lose weight forever.

14

Put a Premium on Calcium

It’s easy to forget that nutrients other than protein play a part in weight loss and muscle growth. According to research published in the British Journal of Nutrition, increased calcium intake in participants who did not get enough of the nutrient previously, lead to greater weight loss than just cutting back on calories alone. Researchers speculate that this is because the calcium supplement helped to curb women’s appetite for fattier foods.

15

Try Interval Training

Woman on treadmill

You can jog around the block all you want, but if you’re really looking to amp up results then high-intensity interval training is the way to go. Interval training not only burns more fat but it also improves your overall fitness more rapidly in comparison to constant but moderately intense physical activity according to research published in the Journal of Applied Physiology.

16

Eat Fat, But Not Too Much

You should not be afraid of fat, but rather approach it with caution. Healthy fats like those found in avocados and nuts have been found to assist weight loss, but specifically when eaten in moderation. “Fat is not something we should cut out completely, but it’s important to make sure that we’re not using too many high-fat foods throughout the day. Fat does have some satiety signaling effects, which can be beneficial, but once again more does not equal better,” says Crandall.

17

Get Checked for Deficiencies

If you’ve been doing all the right things—eating well-balanced meals, exercising regularly and getting your eight hours every night—and still not seeing results, then there may be an underlying deficiency holding you back. “I think nutrient deficiencies can really be looked at for why people aren’t losing weight, which is why it’s so important to work with your dietitian or medical professional. Vitamin D deficiency is pretty common. It’s really just making sure your not missing out on any of those nutrients your body needs to maintain a healthy weight,” says Crandall.

18

Meditate

At this stage of life you’ve undoubtedly accrued more responsibility, and yet still only have 24 hours in a day. As a result, stress becomes a major influencer on health and weight at this point in life. “We see a huge increase in stress due to greater work and family responsibility, so definitely start to meditate. There are a lot of good apps out there to help—Headspace is one of them. It guides you through a really quick meditation of 10 minutes and it’s really easy to do,” says White. Melt away your stress and you’ll quickly see the pounds follow suit.

19

Eat Spicy Foods

“Spicy foods have a thermic effect on the body and can slightly increase the metabolism. By incorporating hot spicy salsa and or some peppers into your diet, it could affect metabolism. However, this isn’t the end-all on metabolism and weight loss. Here you will experience very mild results but every little bit can help,” says White. As with the step trackers, every small bit adds up in the end, so it can’t hurt to keep a few fiery foods on hand.

20

Have Fun

If you don’t enjoy it, chances are you won’t do it. Workouts too often feel like another item on the to-do list that just keeps getting pushed off. “People can get in a rut in their thirties when it comes to workouts. They’ve been working out their whole life (if they are working out), fall into the same patterns and lack that zeal that they had when they had a lot of strength and energy when they were younger. I think with this group the key is to try to find entertaining classes like Flywheel or Zumba. By finding fun ways to lose weight we’re more easily able to stay accountable to,” says White. Not to mention, a study published in the journal Marketing Letters, found that if you view working out as fun you’re less like to eat more food afterward.

21

Enlist a Partner

To continue on the theme of fun, what’s more enjoyable than hitting up SoulCycle with your best friend? Research published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology found that people who embarked on a weight loss or exercise program with friends were able to maintain their weight loss six months later versus study participants who took the journey alone.

22

Hire a Personal Trainer

Sometimes you need to bring in the professionals and hiring a personal trainer is a good place to start says White. If you can swing the bill, enlisting a personal trainer will not only hold you accountable, but they can personalize programs to your specific body and goals, which can help you achieve greater results, faster.

23

Create a Home Gym

Often at this time in life, your schedule is not your own. When getting to the gym is just not possible, the next best thing is bringing your gym home. “We see a lot of people building home gyms and garage gyms, so if they can’t get out of the house they can do it right there while they’re watching their kids,” says White. You don’t need any fancy equipment either. Weights, jump ropes, yoga mats and a treadmill or elliptical will all do the trick.

24

Be More Mindful of Injuries

As we age our bodies endure more wear and tear, and unfortunately this leads to a greater occurrence of injuries. “We start facing injuries and also see some disease states coming up. Things like high cholesterol or maybe some back injuries surfacing. These may prevent us going to the gym and working out,” says White. It’s important to be more mindful of your restrictions and also to consult a professional on how to continue working out safely in spite of them.

25

Workout in the Morning

Rise, shine, and get your butt to the gym. Research published in the Journal of Physiology revealed that exercising in a fasted state (i.e., in the morning before you’ve had anything to eat) causes our bodies to actually burn more fat and prevent weight gain. It takes a few weeks to form a habit, so set your alarm and get going. Keep the fat burning going with these best-ever fat-burning foods.

26

Keep it Light at Night

Eating a big meal before your hit the hay is not advised if you have any intention of getting a good night’s sleep. “Sleep is big when it comes to weight loss. When it comes to getting quality sleep, you don’t want to eat too much before you go to bed because that can and you also don’t want to workout right before you go to bed because it increases our body temperature and as a result disrupts sleep,” says White.

27

Turn off the TV

There is a giant laundry list of things that get in the way of good sleep, but nowadays screen time is at the top of the list. “I believe that your metabolism can be slowed down by inadequate sleep. Most people are getting 6 ½ hours of sleep max, when we really do need 8 hours of sleep to not only rejuvenate ourselves but to also help our metabolism to function fully,” says Crandall. Too much tablet time can suppress your body’s natural production of melatonin (the sleep inducing hormone) and make it difficult for you to fall asleep.

28

Try a Meal Delivery Service

The great thing about the evolving health and fitness scene is that if you don’t have the time of day to accomplish certain things—like making dinner, for instance—there are plenty of people who can step in and do it for you. “There are a lot of great meal delivery services like Hello Fresh or the Blue Apron that are reasonably priced for people that have a lack of time and can’t cook,” says White. With diet having such a profound effect on your weight, services like these remove the stress of meal prep and make hitting your goals much more manageable.

29

Don’t Skimp on Spring Cleaning

A balanced diet cannot happen without a balanced life, but after your thirties, that juggling act just keeps getting harder. “Organizing your life can have a really positive impact on your weight loss efforts. I’m really big into setting your schedule, prepping meals, being organized and decluttering. Whether it’s the house or your life— will help keep you ahead of the game, help decrease stress in your life and makes adherence a lot easier,” says White. Do you have a healthy home? Find out if your home is making you fat.

30

Schedule Your Sessions in Advance

If you’ve already booked your bike and paid for the class, there’s a much greater likelihood that you’ll get your butt in that seat. Along with organizing the different facets of your life, booking workout classes and personal training or nutrition sessions ahead of time will ensure that you actually go through with them, regardless of how long your day was at work. Check out these easy ways to lose 10 pounds for a “pick three, lose ten” plan now!

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Let’s face it, losing weight is HARD, no matter what age you are at. For starters, food and other temptations are readily available to us at every turn. Then, there is the fact that working out requires time and effort, whereas staying at home and binging on food and Netflix just seems easier. And lastly, weight loss results take time and patience — something that is very difficult to come by in today’s times.

As if losing weight wasn’t hard enough already, science says that the older you get, the harder it is for you to not only maintain and build muscle, but also to burn fat. Even more difficult is the flood of new and greater responsibilities with growing families and job promotions that get in the way of your once routine spin classes and planning your healthy meals. Sounds familiar doesn’t it? Trust us, if you are in your 30s, we are going through the exact same struggle as you RN. But worry not, if you think all that you future consists of is whacky diet plans and hard to do icky juice cleanses, think again! Not only are these crash fads difficult and hard to follow, they are also mostly ineffective for long term results. Instead, we give you 10 simple points to keep in mind for to lose weight as you grow older. Start incorporating these easy changes to peel off the pounds post the big three- O.

1.Eat more protein at breakfast:

We all tend to have a slower metabolism as we age, and one way to fight that is to develop more muscle mass by fuelling our bodies with protein. Breakfast is one meal where sticking to protein is extremely important and beneficial, as it also keeps your full and more satiated all day. So, turn to eggs, lean meats and yogurt and nuts in the mornings to get furled up that right way.

2.Ditch the artificial sweeteners:

While this one might seem like the opposite of what you think you should do, it holds very true. According to Yale researchers, consuming artificial sweeteners can actually increase your sweet cravings and lead to excess calorie intake. When you eat something that tastes sweet, your brain thinks it’s getting something high calorie. When no calories are provided it causes your body to seek them elsewhere. Artificial sweeteners are sometimes 300 to 600 times sweeter than real sugar and, as a result, send your brain and body into a sweet-seeking frenzy and may actually cause you to overeat later. Same goes for diet drinks as well, which also add zero nutrition FYI.

3. Eat every few hours:

It’s important to keep your metabolism up and feeling your body with smaller, nutrient rich foods every 2-3 hours is the best possible way to do that. Even though it sounds very time consuming, carrying healthy snacks like nuts and trail mix in your bag when you go to work can be used as mini-meals in between breakfast, lunch and dinner.

4. Lift more weights:

Studies show that physically inactive people lose about 3-5 percent of their muscle mass per decade. Bearing in mind that we are living a mostly sedentary lifestyle, fitness trainers say that the loss of muscle is one of the biggest obstacles you face as you get older. One of the best ways to combat that is by lifting heavier weights, and doing so more often in your workout regime.

5.Keep up the cardio:

Even though you’ve upped your strength training, it’s still important to keep cardio in the mix because exercise increases our metabolism. 150 to 220 minutes a week is the minimum amount of cardio you need to do to keep your body burning fat more effectively.

6. Cut back on the alcohol:

From date nights to catching up with friends, alcohol manages to slip into our daily regimes more and more post 30. Every outing or celebration tends to involve drinks, and while a drink or two post work might feel like an amazing way to de-stress, the calories do all add up. Our advice? Stick to drinking 1-2 nights a week and cut your consumption by half to see a visible difference in your weight loss goals.

7. Drink more water:

Less alcohol and more water is one of the simplest ways to speed up your weight loss results at any age, especially as you get older. According to a study published in the journal obesity, drinking 16 ounces of water before meals can lead to greater weight loss, as the water fills you up and helps increase feelings of fullness, causing you to eat less and curb cravings.

8. Don’t eliminate entire food groups:

While cutting carbs and dairy might have been a good idea to shed quick weight in your twenties, it gets a little trickier as you grow older. Completely eliminating certain food groups can lead to deficiencies that actually make it harder to lose weight and negatively impact your health, so stick to a more sustainable and healthy balanced diet and watch your calorie intake instead.

9.Meditate:

Your life becomes a lot more hectic and full of responsibilities as you grow older, and stress and tension is one of the biggest causes of weight gain. Yoga, breathing or mindfulness, whatever your jam is, make sure you make some time in your day to care for your mind and state of being as well.

10. Have some fun with it:

Don’t turn weight loss into a never-ending chore, make it a fun part of your life instead. Embrace trendy tech gadgets like Fit-bits, go for fun outdoor activities, plan some healthy dinners and call friends, go dancing, these are a few of the options to stay active and healthy in a more relaxed and creative way.

10 Weight-Loss Tips for Women in Their Thirties

Feel like the scale has gotten stuck since you hit your thirties? You’re not alone.

It’s normal to experience a slight drop in your metabolism every year during adulthood, says Robert Ziltzer, MD, an obesity medicine physician at the Scottsdale Weight Loss Center in Arizona.

In addition to a sluggish metabolism, women may also find it difficult to eat healthy as they juggle responsibilities at work and at home. Plus, premenstrual symptoms, which can include fluctuating weight, tend to get worse for women in their late thirties, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

But this doesn’t mean you should give up on your weight-loss efforts. Use these tips to keep the scale steady throughout your thirties.

1. Get clear on what motivates you. “Try to connect with the real reason you want to lose weight,” says Jonny Bowden, PhD, a Los Angeles-based board-certified nutritionist. “Beyond a slimmer waist, what do you really want? Is it more energy? Better sleep? More mental clarity? The ability to run a block without getting winded?” Once you’ve identified your goals, write them down. Seeing the bigger picture might help you make better day-to-day decisions, Bowden says.

2. Eat five times a day. Yes, you heard that right. Dr. Ziltzer recommends eating three meals and two snacks a day, with the snacks limited to fewer than 200 calories each. Choose high-protein bites that will leave you satisfied for two to three hours, such as yogurt, beef jerky, boiled eggs, protein shakes, deli meats, and snack bars low in sugar. And don’t forget to eat breakfast, which has been shown to help boost weight loss .

3. Get plenty of protein. Make sure all your meals and snacks have at least 14 grams (g) of protein and 25 g or less of carbs, Ziltzer says. A good example: one 6-ounce (oz) container of plain, nonfat Greek yogurt has up to 17 g of protein and 6 g of carbohydrates.

4. Beware of 100-calorie snack packs. “These tend to be high in sugar and low in protein, so they don’t fill you up,” Ziltzer says. “Instead, they spike insulin, a hormone that builds fat.” For example, a 100-calorie pack of mini chocolate chip cookies has 1 g of protein and 8.5 g of sugar. A cup of edamame, on the other hand, packs 17 g of protein and 3 g of sugar for 189 calories. Another reason to cut down on sugar: It can help control symptoms of PMS, the NIH notes.

5. Resist the urge to clean your kids’ plates. No one likes throwing away food, but constantly finishing what’s left on your kids’ plates adds up. For example, munching on three chicken nuggets while you clean up adds an extra 142 calories to your dinner. And finishing half of a small order of fast-food fries adds another 136 calories.

6. Serve healthy food the whole family will love. Eating healthy isn’t just about you — it’s about keeping your whole family healthy. Plan good-for-you meals that will benefit everyone, suggests Bowden. Get your kids in on the action by inviting them to plan meals with you.

7. Trick out your weight-loss plan with technology. For weight loss motivation, look no further than your pocket. Many smartphones have built-in pedometers that will measure the number of steps you take each day, Ziltzer says. Aim to log 10,000 steps a day. You can also find free apps and websites that will help you track the foods you eat and calculate your daily calorie intake.

8. Find friends with similar goals. Obesity can be “contagious,” meaning you could gain weight if you hang out with people who are obese, suggests a 2007 study published in The New England Journal of Medicine. That’s not to say you should give someone the cold shoulder because of their weight. But keep in mind that your peers have an influence on the choices you make, Bowden says. Surround yourself with friends who enjoy getting active (like the ones who think a 10-mile hike on the weekend is a good time).

9. Make sleep a priority. If you have a baby or young children at home, you know that getting a good night’s sleep can be a challenge. But logging enough Z’s is crucial when it comes to losing weight. According to a 2014 article published in the Annals of Medicine, sleep deprivation may affect hormones that regulate your appetite, and that can lead to weight gain. To get more shut-eye, keep your bedroom at an even temperature and stick to a regular bedtime routine, recommends the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

10. Consider supplements. Although the jury is still out on whether or not supplements speed weight loss, they can still improve your overall health, Bowden says. Start with a multivitamin, and if you want to add in more, try fish oil, vitamin D, vitamin K, and probiotics, he suggests. Before trying supplements, it’s a good idea to consult your healthcare provider.

Andersen Ross/Getty Images You diet more than ever, but don’t weigh less. Exercise regularly, but still feel flabby. And your once perfectly fitting clothes now seem snug.

If you’re nodding your head in agreement, chances are you’re in the over-35 club. Like most members, you probably have a stay-slim formula (something like regular walks plus no ice cream at night) that no longer seems to be working.

“If you never had problems losing or maintaining your weight in your 20s or even in your early 30s, you may not be ready for what happens next,” warns Madelyn H. Fernstrom, Ph.D., director of the Weight Management Center at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. “Your metabolism slows by 5 percent each decade. Compared to age 25, you’ll burn about 100 fewer calories a day at 35 and 200 fewer at 45. Do nothing, and you could gain eight to 12 pounds a year.”

With age, muscle mass diminishes and so does your metabolic rate (the number of calories your body burns throughout the day, whether you’re sleeping, sitting, or sprinting to catch a bus). Making matters worse, many women unwittingly sabotage their calorie-burning potential with crash diets, ineffective exercise strategies, and other metabolism-busting habits.

Don’t fret yet. Although there are no magic bullets, there’s plenty you can do to boost the number of calories your body burns every day and thus maintain or even lose weight. Here, the six biggest mistakes you can make — and the research-proven metabolism fixes.

Mistake: Relying on Just Your Scale

The basic ones, which only calculate pounds, can’t tell you what percentage of your body weight is lean, calorie-burning muscle and how much is puffy, sluggish fat. “Even a woman whose weight is in the normal range can have a high percentage of body fat and a low percentage of muscle,” Fernstrom says. “And the less muscle you have, the fewer calories you’ll burn.”

The metabolic difference between a pound of muscle and a pound of fat is dramatic: Muscle burns at least three times more calories. “A woman who weighs 130 pounds and has a healthy 25 percent body fat will burn about 200 more calories per day than a 130-pound woman with about 40 percent body fat — a typical level for women at midlife,” says David C. Nieman, Dr.P.H., director of the Human Performance Laboratory at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. “If the woman with more body fat doesn’t start modifying her diet or increase her exercise, she could start putting on weight really fast.”

The Fix: Get an Expert to Weigh In

Visit your local gym (or a fitness center affiliated with a hospital) and ask for a body-fat reading. “Find out whether the person who measures you has been trained,” advises Fernstrom. People who have been certified by the American College of Sports Medicine or who are exercise physiologists should have training in body-fat analysis. A good way to check their accuracy: “At your first visit, get two measurements within minutes of each other by the same person to see how much variation there is. A little, like 2 to 3 percent, is OK,” says Fernstrom. To track your progress, get rechecked roughly every three months.

You can eyeball your fat level at home, too. “If you’ve got a poochy tummy or can pinch an inch or more of fat at your waistline or upper arm, you’re probably carrying more body fat than you should,” Fernstrom notes.

“Anything over 30 percent should be a wake-up call to make some real changes,” she adds.

Mistake: Crash Dieting

When you slash too many calories, you send your body into starvation mode. “A flat-out fast will drop the average woman’s metabolic rate by at least 25 percent,” says Nieman. “If you’re on a very-low-cal regimen, in the 400- to 800-calorie range, it falls by 15 to 20 percent.” Eating fewer than 900 calories a day also prompts your body to burn desirable muscle tissue as well as fat, which slows your metabolic rate even more.

The Fix: Shed Pounds S-L-O-W-L-Y

“If you stay within the 1,200- to 1,500-calorie range, you can still slim down — and you’ll lower your metabolic rate only by about 5 percent,” explains Nieman. “What’s more, about 90 percent of the weight you lose will be fat.”

Regardless of which type of diet plan you choose, be sure to include lots of lean protein, such as chicken, fish, or lean beef. “Protein contains leucine, an amino acid that seems to protect you from muscle loss during a diet,” says Stuart M. Phillips, Ph.D., associate professor of kinesiology at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. Skim milk can help even more: Phillips and his team tracked 56 men who pumped iron five days a week for three months and found that those who downed two cups of fat-free milk soon after their workout built more muscle — and lost more flab — than those who drank soy milk or a flavored-carbohydrate drink. “We have evidence that the benefit is very similar for women,” Phillips notes. “They don’t put on as much muscle as men, but they lose more fat.”

Mistake: Only Doing Cardio

If you never challenge your muscles with strength-training moves, you’ll lose up to five pounds of muscle each decade, reports Wayne L. Westcott, Ph.D., fitness research director at the South Shore YMCA in Quincy, MA. Cardiovascular exercise (like walking, biking, swimming, or sweating through an aerobics class) is great for your health, but it isn’t strenuous enough to build or even preserve much muscle mass. “Only strength training creates the microscopic tears that prompt muscles to rebuild themselves,” explains Phillips. “Lifting weights promotes a continual remodeling of muscle tissue. The process burns a lot of calories.”

The Fix: Pump Iron

When women at the South Shore YMCA strength trained for 20 minutes twice a week for 10 weeks, they added 2.6 pounds of calorie-hungry lean muscle and lost 4.6 pounds of body fat, which other research shows is likely to boost metabolic rate by 7 percent, notes Westcott.

You should aim for about 40 to 60 minutes of strength training a week. Use the weight room at your local gym, or exercise with dumbbells or resistance bands at home. If you’ve never pumped iron before, sign up for a few sessions with a personal trainer. That way, you’ll learn how to get the most out of each move — without risking injury. And once you’ve been at it for a while, you’ll need to increase the weight or resistance you’re using. “Often, women don’t push themselves hard enough because they’re afraid they’ll bulk up with heavier weights,” notes Fernstrom. “But that kind of muscle gain is unlikely because females don’t have enough testosterone in their bodies to make muscles like men do.”

Mistake: Sticking to the Same Exercises

If you always walk the same route, swim laps at one speed, or even have a single strength-training routine, your muscles adapt and become so efficient that they burn fewer calories while you work out, says Fernstrom. How to tell when it’s time for a change? If any of the following is true: You’re not sweating as much at the end of your routine; you don’t feel that tired after working out; or you’re gaining weight even though you aren’t eating more or exercising less.

The Fix: Switch It Up

Give your metabolic rate a big boost by adding a few short, fast-paced bursts of speed to your regular walking, biking, swimming, or other aerobic routine. Researchers at the University of Guelph in Ontario found that women who did interval workouts on stationary bikes for two weeks burned 36 percent more fat when they completed a continuous ride afterward. The reason: “More muscle fibers got worked during those high-intensity intervals,” says Martin Gibala, Ph.D., an exercise physiologist at McMaster University. “When you push hard in short bursts, it reactivates nerve fibers, builds new capillaries, and forces your body to repair the muscle. All of that burns a tremendous amount of calories — long after you’ve completed your session.”

The best news: “You don’t have to be an elite athlete to get the benefits of intervals,” explains Gibala. “If you’re a walker, pick up the pace for 20 or 30 seconds, then slow down to your usual pace for a minute or two. Then do it again. Start small, with one, two, or three intervals in your walk. As you grow stronger, add more intervals, and make them longer and more intense.”

Mistake: Eating Lightly (or Not At All) Before Noon

“Women often have one of two problems with breakfast,” says Elisabetta Politi, R.D., nutrition director of the Duke Diet & Fitness Center in Durham, NC. “If they overindulge at night, they don’t have much appetite in the morning. Or they’re trying to cut calories early in the day, so they don’t eat enough in the A.M.” Breakfast skimpers and skippers, plus women whose diet resolve is strongest in the morning (“Just coffee and dry toast, please”), commit the same metabolic faux pas: eating too little to flip on their metabolism as well as vital “satisfaction switches” in the brain that register fullness in the stomach.

The Fix: Munch on More Food in the Morning

When researchers at the University of Texas at El Paso analyzed the food diaries of 867 women and men, they discovered a metabolic window of opportunity for appetite control: a hearty breakfast. Study volunteers who ate a bigger meal in the morning went on to eat 100 to 200 fewer calories later in the day. Research from Michigan State University that tracked 4,218 people showed that women who skipped breakfast were 30 percent more likely to be overweight. The best A.M. filler-uppers: oatmeal, eggs, peanut butter — or “anything with fiber and protein,” says Politi.

Mistake: Living a High-Stress, Low-Sleep Life

When things get extra-hectic, your levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, shoot up. And that can trigger cravings for high-fat, high-carb foods, report University of California, San Francisco, researchers. The worst part: Your body also sends that extra fat to your waistline. Millions of years ago, this metabolic trick might have helped cavewomen refuel after fending off marauding mastodons. But if you’ve got 21st-century chronic stress (Job! Kids! House! Marriage!), all that extra cortisol could land you in perpetual “pass the Twinkies” mode.

Sleep deprivation wreaks havoc on your waistline, too. When Harvard Medical School scientists followed 68,183 women for 16 years, they found that those averaging five hours of shut-eye per night were 32 percent more likely to gain 33 pounds than those who got seven hours a night. Those logging an average of six hours per night were 12 percent more likely. What gives? Sleep deprivation increases the appetite-stimulating hormone, ghrelin, and decreases the satisfaction hormone, leptin, say researchers from the University of Chicago. In a study they conducted, tired volunteers craved more candy, cookies, chips, and pasta.

The Fix: Sleep More, Stress Less

Aim for at least seven hours of slumber most nights. Women who snoozed for that long, or longer, had a lower risk of weight problems, the Harvard researchers found. And try meditation — it could keep you in your skinny jeans. A Canadian study of 90 meditators found that those who practiced in a group setting for 1 1/2 hours a week for seven weeks and fit in additional time at home had less stress and anxiety than non-meditators. Or tie on your sneakers and go for a walk in the park or the woods: In a British study, 71 percent of people who walked in the countryside felt less tense afterward. Other research on the health benefits of nature backs this up: A Dutch overview confirmed that just looking at greenery can improve well-being.

Men: Here’s how to lose weight in your 30s, 40s and 50s

Your body’s needs change as your age does, but one truth remains the same: it’s important to maintain a healthy weight.

Here are some great age-specific strategies you can adopt to men’s weight loss at various times in your life:

In your 30s

Your 30s is the time to establish great habits that will set you up for a long and healthy life.

Your metabolism starts to slow down in your late 20s, so when the next decade ticks over it’s declining by around 2% each year. That means that the calories / kilojoules start to sit on your waistline more quickly than they used to.

The good news is that you can counteract this change with targeted exercise. Your metabolism works more efficiently when you boost your muscle mass (because lean muscle helps to burn calories / kilojoules), making it important to do plenty of strength and cardio training through your 30s.

Jenny Craig’s Rapid Results program helps to regulate your metabolism and promote weight loss for men.

In your 40s

The 40s often sees a shift in priorities: where your focus may have been on career and health, it’s now changing to family and career. This might make it difficult to maintain healthy habits like a planned diet and long workout sessions.

It’s certainly not impossible, though. Looking after your health in your 40s is more important than ever – this is the point that many men notice the weight lingering – so it’s time to adapt your routines to fit within your lifestyle.

This is the time to get some variety into your workouts to improve your posture, strength and bone density, as well as reducing your body fat. You can find ways to do this around your family and work commitments with the help of Jenny Craig’s menus that are personalised for men’s weight loss.

In your diet, your 40s should include lots of vegetables, fibre and calcium, with some lean protein thrown into the mix.

In your 50s

It’s generally true that, in your 50s, your body is really good at storing fat. And, as your waistline increases, so too does your risk of developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke and cancer. Carrying extra weight also puts extra strain on your muscles and joints that could make mobility difficult as you get older.

But it’s not too late to establish good habits that can help you get back to a healthy weight.

In the 50s and beyond, lots of men find it best to lower the intensity of their workouts and switch to lower impact activities like yoga, Pilates, strength training and walking.

This puts more emphasis on your eating habits, too. Because of your slower metabolism, it’s a good idea to reduce the calories you’re eating in order to get to your goal weight. You can lean on Jenny Craig’s menu plans for great, healthy ideas.

No matter what age you are, there are great ways to lose weight and be healthy.

start your journey now

Megan Blandford

Freelance Writer View More Megan Blandford is a freelance writer and author specialising in health, mental health, parenting and lifestyle. She writes for The Age, Sydney Morning Herald, Sunday Life, SBS, Kidspot, Body+Soul and Good Food, as well as content for many corporate clients. Megan lives in country Victoria with her husband, two children and lots of animals.

Turning 30 can be the beginning of weight-loss woes.

After leaving our 20s, when it wasn’t such a challenge to lose five pounds in less than 10 days, the 30s are the decade when metabolism slows and our schedules and eating habits may be dictated by the stress of a career, marriage or family. Even the best laid plans to maintain and lose weight can be difficult to manage. Difficult — but not impossible.

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Here are some tips to help you drop the pounds during your 30s:

1. Space out your protein.

If metabolism in our 20s is like a raging inferno, metabolism in our 30s is more like a comfortable campfire. It’s still burning, but it’s in serious need of wood to keep it going. That wood is protein.

We lose muscle throughout every decade of life. However, the third decade is when it really starts to creep in. Weight-bearing exercises are vitally important, but keeping and building muscle also consists of consuming protein. How we split up our daily food sources could make a difference.

A 2009 study from the University of Texas found when individuals in their mid-30s spaced out protein consumption to slightly less than 30 grams per meal, they built more muscle than when they clumped all their protein needs at the end of the day.

The study’s authors suggested most Americans eat the majority of their protein at dinner and consume less at lunch. Therefore, they suggested this excess amount of protein at night get shifted to our other meals. Daily intake could include:

  • protein shake for breakfast
  • salad greens with 4 ounces of grilled, wild salmon for lunch
  • a ½ cup of bean-based pasta with a ½ cup of baked tofu for dinner

Maya Visnyei

Salmon Rice Bowl

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2. Step away from the chicken nugget

The journey into motherhood may start in your 30s. If it does, you can expect an abundance of joy, laughter … And chicken nuggets.

I speak from experience. When I was 39 I realized my weight was creeping up due to my 2 year old’s foods creeping into my mouth —frequently. Toddlers preference for nuggets, pizza, goldfish-shaped crackers and chocolate milk often prevail over your desires for them to eat broccoli. These foods are also very tempting to the busy, and often exhausted, mom.

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It wasn’t easy, but once I put habits in place to avoid eating off my child’s plate, I noticed my weight began to drop.

For yourself, make sure you have nutrient-dense meals ready when your child dives into his macaroni and cheese. Or pop some gum in when you put your baby’s plate down.

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3. Make your bedroom an oasis.

If you’re serious about losing weight, sleep is just as important as diet and exercise. The 30s are not the most restful time: Work, kids, cleaning the house and stress may all play a role.

Studies have found lack of sleep is associated with weight gain, increased appetite, decreased metabolism, and less motivation to exercise. Make sleep a priority by altering things you can control like your bedroom sleep basics.

  • Keep the room temperature between 60 and 67 degrees.
  • Use low lighting, and avoid bright lights an hour before hitting the sack, including your mobile phone or pad.

4. Get your friends moving.

Obesity and inactivity are contagious.

In a 2007 landmark study, the New England Journal of Medicine found a direct relationship between your friends who were obese and your own weight. In fact, if your friend is obese, your chances of becoming obese increased by 57 percent. Additionally, having mutual friends who are obese puts your chances at 171 percent. Those aren’t good odds if you’re trying to lose weight.

While I’m not suggesting dropping friends who don’t fit into a certain size pair of jeans, I am urging you to be aware of how powerful and influential your friends may be on your weight. If you’re trying to lose weight, I would suggest buddying up with someone else in their 30s with similar weight-loss goals. Perhaps you can even spend more time with friends who are considered a normal weight.

Thinness is contagious, too.

5. Fast but don’t starve

A 2017 animal study found when the body sensed food was scarce it protected itself by inhibiting calories and burning fat.

So, if you’re 30-something and you think starving your way around bad eating habits will help you drop pounds, you should think again. Instead, focus on shifting how you look at starting and stopping your meals and snacks. The secret — eat until you’re no longer hungry, not until you’re full.

I tell my patients they should never have fullness and should embrace a little hunger right before bed. You can also consider a fasting plan, which is different from “starving” every day. Fasting has been shown to help with weight loss and prevent some of the diseases that may be lurking around the corner in a few decades.

6. Ditch the diet soda

By 30, you’ve most likely realized that sugar won’t do you any favors, and perhaps because of this, you’ve remained steadfast to your 20 something habit of diet cola.

No calories = no calories, right? Wrong.

Several studies show potential problems with artificial sweeteners, prevalent in the most favorite diet cola’s — from weight gain, to loss of sensitivity to sweet, to even increasing your risk for diabetes. And, recent research links diet soda to an increased risk of stroke and dementia. The study didn’t find a direct cause-and-effect, but it’s one more scientific clue that people who drink a lot of diet soda have poorer health.

If you want to prep for your 40’s, now is the time to buckle down on any sweeteners made in a lab.

Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, R.D., is the manager of wellness nutrition services at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute in Cleveland, Ohio, and the author of “Skinny Liver.” Follow her on Twitter @KristinKirkpat.

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By the time you hit 30, you’ve probably figured out that leading meetings, burping babies, and filling out tax forms all get easier with practice. But keeping extra pounds off seems to get harder every year. So in her new book, Strong, Slim, and 30! Eat Right, Stay Young, Feel Great, and Look Fabulous, WH contributing editor Lisa Drayer, R.D., has created a diet that helps women on either side of the big 3-0 achieve weight loss success without sacrificing vital nutrients — or beloved desserts. Because if a grown-up knows anything, it’s that life without chocolate is just not going to happen.

The meal strategy? Easy. Eat every 3 to 4 hours. That will keep your metabolism revved, prevent you from feeling famished, and help you shed pounds more easily. My plan calls for a nutritious breakfast; a lunch and a dinner that follow the “thirds” principle (one-third protein, one-third vegetables, and one-third grains); and three snacks per day. You can choose one from each of the three kinds: anti-aging, bone-building, and comfort snacks. I call them your ABCs. As for what to eat, I give you four options for every meal or snack, plus guidelines for creating your own.

My plan allows 1,400 calories a day — perfect if you exercise once or twice weekly — and should enable you to lose about 2 pounds a week. If you work out more often or feel very hungry, up your daily calories by 200, adding a snack from the list or increasing your lunch and dinner protein portions by 2 ounces.

(While I’ve included some specific brands, you can substitute similar foods with the same number of calories.)

Breakfast

Each breakfast option below includes a source of whole grains or fiber, which will slowly elevate your blood sugar in the morning, providing you with sustained energy until the afternoon. These breakfasts also contain a healthy dose of protein — to boost metabolism, increase alertness, and prevent late-morning cravings — and the best antioxidant-rich fruits to keep you healthy and youthful. And they fulfill a quarter of your daily calcium requirements. Choose whichever appeals to you most.

Options
1 c Whole Grain Total cereal with 3/4 c blueberries and 1 c fat-free milk

1 spinach omelet (4 egg whites, 1/2 c cooked spinach, and 1/2 oz low-fat cheddar cheese), 1 slice whole-wheat toast, and 1 medium Red Delicious or Gala apple

1 Kashi GoLean waffle spread with 1/2 c Light n’ Lively low-fat cottage cheese with calcium and 1 Tbsp low-sugar jelly, and 1 c strawberries with 4 oz fat-free milk

1 slice whole-wheat toast with 1 Tbsp creamy peanut butter, 6 oz La Yogurt Light fat-free yogurt, and 1 plum

Create your own: Make sure it has about 300 calories, at least 5 grams of fiber, at least 250 milligrams of calcium, and one serving of antioxidant-rich fruit like apples, berries, or plums.

Lunch

These lunch options give you enough protein for your metabolism and weight-loss needs, a variety of vegetables for anti-aging purposes, and grains for energy. The protein will also keep you satiated, prevent you from craving sweets, and ensure that you maintain muscle mass.

Options
3 oz tuna with 2 tsp light mayonnaise on 1 whole-wheat pita with 1 c mixed greens, shredded carrot, tomato, and cucumber tossed with 1 Tbsp Annie’s Naturals Balsamic Vinaigrette

1 Morningstar Farms garden vegetable burger with 1 oz low-fat Muenster cheese and 1 slice tomato on 1 1/2-oz whole-wheat bun, and 1 c Health Valley Fat Free 14 Garden Vegetable Soup

Greek chicken salad: 2 oz grilled chicken breast, 1 1/2 oz feta cheese, and 8 black olives over 1 c mixed greens with 1/8 c red onion, 5 cherry tomatoes, 1/4 c red bell pepper, and 1/4 c cucumber with 2 Tbsp Newman’s Own Lighten Up Balsamic Vinaigrette, and 1 small whole-wheat pita

1 whole-wheat pita filled with 1/3 c hummus, 1 oz reduced-fat Swiss cheese, 1 Tbsp avocado, 1/2 c chopped arugula, 2 slices tomato, 1 c chopped carrots, and 1/2 c sprouts

Create your own: It should contain about 400 calories and at least 6 grams of fiber. Your plate should be divided evenly between grains, protein, and vegetables.

Dinner

You’ll notice that the dinners I’ve provided here are around the same size as the lunches, with about 400 calories each. Keeping portions in check at dinnertime is key to controlling your weight, because this is when people are most likely to overeat.

Options
4 oz roasted halibut over 8 spears asparagus (tossed with 1 tsp olive oil), topped with red pepper relish (2 Tbsp minced red bell pepper, 1 Tbsp fresh orange juice, 1 tsp olive oil, and 1/2 tsp honey), and 1/2 c Near East Wheat Pilaf

4 oz honey-mustard chicken (marinated for about 15 minutes in 2 tsp Dijon mustard, 1 1/4 tsp honey, and 1 1/2 tsp reduced-sodium soy sauce), 1/2 c wild rice, and 1 1/2 c steamed broccoli and carrots

Sauted mixed vegetables (1 c zucchini, 1/2 c mushrooms, 1/4 c water chestnuts, 1/4 c green onion, 1/4 c corn, 1 clove garlic, 2 tsp olive oil, and 2 tsp light teriyaki sauce), 15 small grilled shrimp, and 1/2 c brown rice

4-oz broiled salmon fillet with 1 tsp light mayonnaise and 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard, 1/2 c wild rice, and 1 c steamed zucchini and squash

Create your own: It should contain about 400 calories and at least 4 grams of fiber. As with lunch, divide your plate evenly between grains, protein, and vegetables.

Snacks

“A” (Anti-Aging)
These include fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants — like beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E — as well as small amounts of nuts, which contain protein and healthy fats to keep cravings at bay. Options:

1 Tbsp raw peanuts with 1/2 oz dried cranberries

Mixed berries (1/3 c blackberries and 1/4 c raspberries) with 3 Tbsp plain, fat-free yogurt, drizzle of honey, and 1 Tbsp ground flaxseeds

1/2 c sliced red bell pepper and 5 broccoli florets with 3 Tbsp hummus

1 medium (5-oz) orange with 6 raw almonds

Create your own: It should contain about 100 calories and consist mostly of fresh fruits or vegetables, plus about 6 nuts.

“B” (Bone-Building)
These meet a quarter of your daily calcium needs. Options:

1/2 Thomas’ Light Multi-Grain English Muffin with 1 oz reduced-fat Swiss cheese

1/2 c Light n’ Lively low-fat cottage cheese with calcium, 1 tsp cinnamon, and 1/2 c blackberries

1 tall (12-oz) Starbucks latte with fat-free milk

1 blueberry smoothie: Blend 4 oz fat-free milk, 2 oz fat-free blueberry yogurt, 1/2 c frozen blueberries, and 1 packet Splenda on high speed until smooth.

Create your own: It should contain about 100 calories, at least 250 milligrams of calcium, and at least 5 grams of protein.

“C” (Comfort)
These are indulgent sweet or salty snacks, and they are very important: They keep you from feeling deprived! Options:

4 Hershey’s Kisses

1/2 c fat-free vanilla ice cream

0.75 oz baked tortilla chips (about 15 chips) with 1/4 c salsa

1 Nabisco 100-calorie pack (Chips Ahoy Thin Crisps, Honey Maid Cinnamon Thin Crisps, Oreo Thin Crisps, Planters Peanut Butter Cookie Crisps, or Ritz Snack Mix)

Create your own: Only one guideline here: Your “C” snack should contain about 100 calories.

When you hit 40, there are so many reasons to celebrate: You’re at the power years for your career, sex life, and confidence (don’t believe us? ask Kate Hudson, Mindy Kaling, Claire Danes, Busy Phillips, and Brandy, who all recently celebrated the big 4-0). But reaching that milestone birthday also means that some things become more of a challenge. Top of the list: losing those extra pounds that sneak in when you’re middle age. This doesn’t mean you can’t be in the best shape of your life—it just means you have to work a little harder to get there. But by adding in some additional strength-training and following a healthy diet, you can not only look your best, but lower your risk for heart disease and metabolic syndrome.

The Over-40 Challenge

The number one reason it gets harder to lost weight post-40 is that your metabolism slows down every year, making it harder to burn calories. You also tend to lose muscle mass as you age, and muscle burns calories at a faster rate than fat does.

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Plus, falling estrogen levels during perimenopause and menopause (which can begin in your 40s) can cause insulin sensitivity, which makes it harder for your body to control the amount of sugar in your blood, says Caroline Cederquist, M.D., a board-certified bariatric surgeon and founder of the meal delivery service BistroMD. If your blood sugar levels constantly spike and crash, it can increase your cravings for unhealthy snacks, Dr. Cederquist says.

So it’s no wonder why so many women over 40 end up hitting a weight-loss wall. But don’t worry, you got this: Here are a few ways you can outsmart your slowing metabolism and get lean—for good.

1. Create a list of reasons you want to lose weight

Those who are most successful at losing weight after 40 do it when they have a very clear reason why they want to get leaner. Maybe you’ve been watching the scale creep up a pound or two every year and are ready to nix bad habits, or you’ve been given a wake-up call by your doctor that it’s time to get serious about how your weight is impacting your overall health. “You need to have a mental awakening that puts you in a state of readiness to change. If you’re not engaged mentally, it’s not happening,” says Pamela Peeke, M.D., author of The Hunger Fix.

2. Balance your plate

Evaluating your diet is a good place to begin your journey. Limiting refined carbs and processed foods from your diet can help combat age-related insulin resistance and promote steady blood sugar levels, Dr. Cederquist says. Incorporating more protein into your diet can also help curb hunger and keep you satiated so you’re not tempted to load up on unhealthy foods. Not only does the macronutrient help stave off age-related muscle loss, but it also helps keep your metabolism revved because the body has to work harder to digest it than, say, a bagel. How much of each nutrient you consume each time you eat matters, too. In a perfect world each meal and snack should have:

  • Vegetables: Half your plate should be filled with veggies. They’re high in fiber and water, so they’ll keep you satisfied and stave off hunger without contributing too many calories to your diet. Plus, they deliver ample amounts of disease-fighting antioxidants and nutrients that’ll help you reduce risk of disease.
  • Lean protein: At each meal, your plate should have a protein serving that’s about the size of your palm. Excellent sources of lean protein include Greek yogurt, eggs, chicken, and fish. Some plant-based sources of protein are quinoa, edamame, faro, and hemp seeds.
  • Complex carbohydrates: Carbs are essential in any type of weight-loss diet—they leave you more satisfied with your meal, we all know that eliminating them from your diet isn’t sustainable long-term. Whole grains, beans, fresh fruit, and starchy veggies like sweet potatoes are all good choices.
  • Healthy fats: Healthy fats like extra-virgin olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds, and fatty fish, are essential for a strong heart, a sharp mind, and glowing skin. But it’s important to note that these foods are also calorie-dense, so be mindful of how much you consume daily. Aim for 7 to 10 grams of fat every time you eat: That’s 1½ teaspoon of olive oil, a quarter of an avocado, or 2 tablespoons of nuts or seeds.

3. Be mindful of portion sizes

“When it comes to losing weight, what actually moves the needle is always dietary change,” says Dr. Cederquist. It doesn’t matter if all you eat is grilled chicken, brown rice, and broccoli. If you don’t cut back on your portions, you won’t lose weight. Everyone’s calorie needs are different, but in general, a woman is has typically been eating 2,000 calories per day should aim to cut back to 1,500–1,600 a day to lose weight, recommends Frances Largeman-Roth, R.D.N., nutrition expert and author of Eating in Color.

Emily Schiff-Slater

4. Consider intermittent fasting

There are different methods for practicing intermittent fasting, including the 16:8 diet, which restricts eating to an 8-hour window and fasting for a 16-hour period. Studies have shown that intermittent fasting can not only be beneficial for weight loss, but it can also help you get prediabetes and diabetes under control.

5. Eat fewer calories, more frequently

Increased insulin resistance might leave you feeling hungrier. Dividing up your food into three moderately sized meals and one to two small snacks will keep your blood sugar levels steady while combatting the urge to nibble on junk, Largeman-Roth says. Piling your plate with more low-calorie, high-volume foods—like fruits and vegetables—can help fill you up, too.

6. Save sweets for a true treat

Sadly, you can’t scarf down cupcakes and chocolate shakes like you did in your 20s and expect to lose weight. But you can still enjoy your favorite foods. You just might need to save them for when you really have a hankering—and say goodbye to the treats that fall lower on your list of craveables. Instead of mindlessly dipping into that bag of chips just because it’s there, think about what would truly satisfy you. Is it chips or are you actually craving something else? If you decide the chips are worth the calories, then help yourself to a small serving, and savor every bite. (That means no mindless munching in front of the TV.)

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7. Watch your alcohol intake

Alcohol counts as a treat, too, so save it for special occasions (Friday night date night?), and try sticking to low-calorie alcoholic drinks. “You could fit two to four glasses of wine per week into a weight loss program,” Largeman-Roth says. Just make a point to stick to the five-ounce recommended serving size, since it can be easy to over-pour when you don’t pay attention. And yes, if you enjoy a glass with dinner, it means you should skip out on that piece of chocolate for dessert.

8. Do muscle-building exercises

Losing weight through diet alone isn’t possible, especially after 40, when hormones like testosterone tend to dip, and you start to lose muscle mass, says Dr. Cederquist. Adding in four to five weekly resistance training sessions can help you maintain your muscle mass and burn even more calories, Largeman-Roth says.

But one common mistake to avoid is jumping straight into an intense exercise regimen, Dr. Peeke says. “That’s the worst thing you can do because it increases your risk of injury,” she says. Brisk walking, on the other hand, helps you shed pounds and keeps you pain-free. Be sure to talk to your doctor about recommending a workout routine that works best for you. Or, hire a personal trainer who can develop a fitness program that meets your weight-loss goals.

9. Move more

Along with your strength training, make sure you’re burning off even more calories—and keeping your cardiovascular health in top shape—by doing some sort of aerobic activity at least 30 minutes a day. That can be from taking a dance class, biking, or simply getting out and walking (aim for at least 10,000 daily steps).

10. Avoid trigger foods

Being over 40 doesn’t automatically mean that you now have to cut out certain foods to get (or stay) slim—unless you know deep down that a food is truly getting in the way of your goals. “If having a square of chocolate leads to eating an entire bag of chocolate, having a square of chocolate does not work for you,” Dr. Cederquist says. That might feel tough at first. But instead of seeing it as deprivation, reframe your decision as a choice—and a positive one at that. “Acknowledge that these foods don’t work for you and the health goals that are important to you,” Dr. Cederquist says.

Lastly, keep in mind that the weight-loss strategies that work best for you could change down the road. “I find that for women over 40, myself included, it’s vital to assess what you’re doing each year,” Largeman-Roth says. If your progress starts to stall, consider switching up parts of your diet or fitness plan. “Our bodies like a challenge,” Largeman-Roth says.

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Marygrace Taylor Marygrace Taylor is a health and wellness writer for Prevention, Parade, Women’s Health, Redbook, and others.

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