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Posted by J.J. Ellis on 12/13/2020

Here are some tips if you're trying to lose weight and over 40

Here are some tips if you're trying to lose weight and over 40

Unfortunately, as you age, the weight creeps on easier and easier. Due to a slowing metabolism you may be burning 300 less calories per day than you used to. In addition to this, estrogen levels may be reducing due to menopause which can in turn cause insulin sensitivity, which makes it more difficult for your body to control the amount of sugar in your blood. This makes it more likely for blood sugar levels to spike and crash, which can increase your urge to snack, especially on sugary junk.


Thus it's no wonder that many women over 40 end up hitting a weight loss wall. It can be quite easy to be disheartened. But with a little consideration, it doesn't have to be that way.


Ask yourself this question – why do you want to lose weight?


Maybe the scales have been creeping up a kg or two each year and you are ready to get rid of bad habits, or the doctor has told you that it's time to get serious about how your weight is impacting your health. You need to have an awakening that puts you in a state of mind that’s ready to change. If your reason for doing it isn’t strong then it’s unlikely to happen.


The basic principles of weight-loss still apply


Even though you may be over 40, the basic principles of weight-loss are still the same. You need to eat less by cutting back on portion sizes. Even if all you eat is chicken, fruit and vegetables, if you don't reduce your portion sizes, you won't lose weight. Everyone has different calorie needs, but in general, a woman eating 2,000 calories per day should aim to reduce that by 400 to 500 calories.

 Don’t aim to lose large amounts each week. Anything more than 2kg per week and you may be risking your health (which in turn will affect your long-term ability to keep the weight off). Dropping half a kilogram a week is more realistic and probably represents something that you can maintain. Focus more on building healthy habits (like exercising more and eating more vegetables) that will help you stay leaner in the long term.

 Also avoid skipping meals as this will slow your metabolism. Skipping meals also increases the likelihood that your blood sugar levels will crash, leaving you craving a quick energy fix in the form of sugary carbs.


Keep refined sugars in check, and feed yourself more protein to feel more satiated


Be mindful of how many refined sugars you consume to help combat insulin resistance and promote steady blood sugar levels. And including more protein in your diet can also help. It will not only reduce the amount of muscle loss that comes with age, but it also helps keep you feeling fuller. Maintaining (or increasing ) muscle mass is one of the best ways to burn fat, as the more muscle that you have, the more energy that you burn (even when you’re resting).


When looking at your plate, aim for this


Protein: Things like chicken, fish, Greek yogurt and eggs are great choices. They should take up the size of your palm.

Vegetables/fruit: These should take up half of your plate. Being high in fiber and water, they'll give you a feeling of satiaty without adding too many calories to your diet.

Complex carbohydrates: Aim for a serving that’s the size of your closed fist. Things to include are whole grains, beans, fresh fruit, and starchy vegetables (like sweet potatoes).

Healthy fats: As fat is calorie dense (9 calories per gram) it's worth measuring them. 7 to 10 grams every time you eat is a good aim. To give you an idea of how much this is, 1½ tsp of olive oil, a quarter of an avocado, or two tablespoons of nuts or seeds.


You will need to be mindful of how many calories you consume, even when eating healthy foods such as fruits and wholegrains. Most definitely do not eliminate them completely, but stick to recommended serving sizes.


Eat frequently


Having three meals per day and one or two snacks will help regulate your blood sugar levels whilst combatting the urge to snack on junk. But don’t take this as licence to eat more – you still need to make sure you are hitting your daily calorie goals.


Ask yourself what will really make you happy


If you find yourself hungry, think about what would truly satisfy you. Will junk such as chips hit the spot, or would something healthier and more filling satisfy you more, such as a slice of turkey with a little cranberry sauce on it, or a piece of your favourite fruit (you will find that as eating healthy becomes more of a habit, you will crave junk less and less, and you will find things such as fruit tastier than before). But if you decide that it is chips that you are really craving, then help yourself to a small serving, and savour every bite (but this doesn’t mean mindless munching in front of the TV).


Be mindful of how much alcohol you drink


Alcohol is calorie dense (7 calories per gram) so be aware of how much you're consuming, and try sticking to low-calorie options. You could have two to four glasses of wine each week and still hit your weight-loss goals.


Exercise should play a part in your plan


Half an hour of exercise each day is a good start, but if you are to seriously expect results you will need to do more. Four to five weekly resistance training sessions will help you build muscle which will in turn result in you burning more calories. However patience is key here - diving straight into an intense exercise program is the worst thing you can do because it increases your risk of injury. Keep the weights light and build up slowly over a period of months.


Keep junk out of the pantry


If you can’t stop yourself from eating junk (and most of us can’t), then “out of sight, out of mind” really does work. If you know a certain food is a weakness, then keep it off your shopping list. Instead of seeing it as deprivation, reframe it as a gift to yourself. Tell yourself that these foods are not in line with your health goals which are important to you.


Finally, keep in mind that what is working now may not work further down the track therefore don’t be afraid to re-assess what you’re doing if your progress starts to stall. And if necessary, consult a dietician.

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