How To Lose Weight After 40: 7 Key Principles For Women

Written by: Erin Coleman,

B.S. - Nutritional Science, R.D., L.D.

Writer, The Fit Mother Project

Written by: Erin Coleman,

B.S. - Nutritional Science, R.D., L.D.

Writer, The Fit Mother Project

how to lose weight after 40

Wondering how to lose weight after 40? As we age, it becomes harder and harder to lose weight and shed those extra pounds.

In fact, almost 3 out of every 4 adults in the United States are overweight or obese.

Busy, hectic lifestyles and the stresses of work and family certainly play a part, but there are also real changes going on in your body that contribute to weight gain.

Due to a slower metabolism and hormone fluctuations, weight loss after 40 is different than weight loss in your 20s or 30s — but it is possible!

Keep reading to learn the key weight loss principles and some tips that will show you how to lose weight after 40.

Learn the best foods to eat, what to avoid, meals to make, and the meal-time schedule that can keep things simple and sustainable.

How to Lose Weight After 40: The 7 Key Principles

1. Have The Right Mindset

Believe it or not, the most important step in your weight loss journey is changing your mindset.

Make achieving a healthy weight your number one priority, and decide that weight loss and better health are more important than junk food, drinking, and eating out.

To get on the road toward having the right mindset, try goal setting.

Make a list of goals prior to beginning a new weight loss program to get motivated for success.

Determine your goal weight and set goals for specific health parameters, such as:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Better blood sugar control
  • Lower cholesterol
  • Reduced triglycerides
  • Reductions in waist circumference
  • Lower body mass index (BMI)

Achieving a waist size of 35 inches or less reduces chronic disease risks in women. So does maintaining a BMI of 18.5 to 24.9.

To calculate your BMI, use a free online BMI calculator or multiply your weight in pounds by 703; divide that number by your height in inches, and divide by your height in inches again.

Stay on track with weight loss goals by using feedback loops!

2. Get Basic Physical Activity

Getting basic physical activity isn’t the same as a formal exercise. It’s an activity in which your body is moving around rather than sitting down.

Studies show that the more hours you sit in a day, the higher your risk of obesity and chronic disease — regardless of whether or not you work out.

One study found that sitting in a car for more than 10 hours per week is associated with an 82% higher risk of heart disease death compared with sitting in a car for fewer than 4 hours weekly.

The same study found that for every additional hour of sitting down, your risk of developing high abdominal fat increases by 26%, and the risk of being overweight increases by 13%.

For effective weight loss in women, aim to keep your body moving at least 30-45 minutes a day in addition to getting formal exercise.

The more you move, the better. Examples of ways to move more and sit less include:

  • Go grocery shopping
  • Clean the floors or windows
  • Do laundry
  • Take the dog for a walk
  • Play outside with your kids
  • Walk outside for 30 minutes a day
  • Rake the yard
  • Shovel snow
  • Mow the grass

If you have a desk job at work, try using a sit-stand desk vs a traditional sitting desk. Get up and walk around, climb a set of stairs, or do squats at least once every hour to keep your body moving and blood flowing — and burn extra calories for weight loss.

Learn more about the negative effects of sitting and how to reverse them!

3. Eat Nutritious Foods

Proper nutrition is more important than formal exercise for working out.

If you’re eating too many calories, it doesn’t matter how many calories you burn off through daily physical activity.

As with the other key principles of weight loss, set goals and use your current nutritional habits as a baseline.

Nutrition goals that are often effective for weight loss include:

  • Drink water in place of sugary drinks (soda, lemonade, sweet tea, sweetened coffee drinks, etc.)
  • Eliminate (or greatly reduce) alcoholic beverages
  • Replace desserts with fruit
  • Replace white bread and white rice with whole grains
  • Eat at least 2 cups of vegetables every day
  • Fill half of each plate with non-starchy vegetables
  • Fill one-fourth of your plate with protein foods
  • Fill one-fourth of each plate with fiber-rich starches
  • Consume 2-3 cups of dairy foods or plant equivalents daily
  • Add healthy fat to each meal
  • Drink 12 cups of water daily

Examples of healthy protein foods include chicken, turkey, very lean grass-fed beef, fish, shrimp, other seafood, eggs, tofu, seitan, and veggie burgers.

Fiber-rich starches to consider include quinoa, brown rice, oatmeal, other whole grains, sweet potatoes, corn, peas, dried beans, lentils, and other legumes.

Low-fat milk, plant milk, Greek yogurt, low-fat cottage cheese, plain kefir, and protein shakes are examples of dairy foods to include in a weight-loss meal plan.

Learn how to portion your meals with the Perfect Plate strategy!

4. Stay Hydrated

If you’re wondering how to lose weight after 40, proper hydration is one of the most important principles needed to help you achieve your goals.

Drinking a lot of water not only hydrates you but also lowers your risk of overeating and keeps your energy and metabolism high!

If you’re wondering how to lose weight after 40 with proper hydration:

  • Drink 2-4 cups of water when you first wake up
  • Consume 12 cups of water daily for women
  • Drink 2 cups of water before each meal
  • Drink water ice cold
  • Flavor water with fruit, cucumbers, or mint if you'd like
  • Carry a water bottle with you all throughout the day
  • Keep track of your daily water intake

Watch out for signs of dehydration, such as dark yellow urine, headaches, and fatigue.

Urine that’s light yellow or close-to-clear in color often indicates proper hydration.

This is the easiest way to drink more water every day!

5. Get Quality Sleep

Many Americans aren't getting the sleep necessary to stay healthy and maintain an ideal weight.

In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 1 in every 3 Americans is sleep-deprived.

Why does this matter for weight loss?

Sleep plays a role in proper brain function, metabolism, hormone balance, appetite control, and a strong immune system.

Studies show that sleeping less than 6 hours nightly on a regular basis is associated with higher rates of obesity, insulin resistance, and lower cognitive functioning.

You might be wondering how much sleep you really need to effectively lose weight over 40.

The CDC recommends 7-9 hours of sleep each night to achieve optimal health.

To boost sleep quality:

  • Go to bed at the same time each night
  • Sleep in a cool, dark room
  • Avoid caffeine late in the day
  • Steer clear of late-night workouts
  • Don’t go to bed hungry or very full

Women over 40 may have difficulty getting a good night's sleep, even if they follow the sleeping tips above.

Hormone fluctuations associated with pre- or post-menopause may be the culprit. If this is the case for you, talk with your doctor about solutions. They might recommend hormone replacement therapy or natural sleeping aids.

Try this simple technique to fall asleep and relax your mind before bed!

6. Practice Stress Management

Managing stress is a key component of weight loss for women over 40.

Hormone fluctuations associated with stress can increase your appetite and make weight loss difficult, even with the right weight loss program in place.

Stress management might sound easy enough, but with the busy hustle and bustle of day-to-day life, making time to manage stress can be challenging.

Try these simple stress relief tips:

  • Set aside time each day to relax
  • Try massage or acupuncture
  • Get a pedicure
  • Spend time outdoors every day
  • Go for a walk
  • Try yoga, tai chi, or meditation
  • Consider sauna use
  • Take a hot bath

Even if it’s just 20-30 minutes a day, take time for yourself in a quiet, relaxing environment.

Find out how stress is killing us as we reveal some important research about stress.

7. Participate in Formal Workouts

Making time for formal workouts helps you tighten and tone up problem areas and get rid of stubborn fat pockets.

Set aside 20-60 minutes most days of the week for formal exercise. Even 15 minutes of exercise is better than skipping workouts when you’re tight on time.

Examples of effective weight loss workouts include:

  • Continuous cardio: biking, jogging, walking, stair climbing, swimming, rowing, or using an elliptical machine for 45-60 minutes at a moderate intensity
  • High-intensity interval training (HIIT) for 20-30 minutes: alternate high-intensity cardiovascular exercise with low-intensity recovery periods
  • Strength training: work all major muscle groups, including your hamstrings, quadriceps, calves, glute muscles, chest, shoulders, back, triceps, biceps, and abs, at least two times each week
  • Circuit training: move from one weight training exercise to the next with little to no rest between sets OR alternate strength training exercises with burpees, jumping jacks, sprinting, etc.

It's never too late to start strength training and lifting weights, no matter how old you are!

Additional Tips for Weight Loss After 40

In addition to the seven main principles above, try the following tips and tricks to significantly boost your chance of weight loss success!

Take Baby Steps

If you feel overwhelmed about making lots of healthy lifestyle changes at once, begin slowly.

Simply replacing sugary drinks with water or cutting out alcohol may help you drop about 1 pound each week!

Follow the 7 weight loss principles above one step at a time, in the order listed, instead of trying to make numerous changes at once.

Slow but steady helps you ease into a new routine so you don't feel overwhelmed. Doing so increases your chance of maintaining your new healthy habits for a lifetime!

Dine Out Less

Studies show that dining out is associated with increases in BMI.

It's more difficult to eat whole, nutritious foods and know how many calories you're actually eating — especially when eating at fast-food restaurants.

To enhance weight loss, limit dining out at fast food and sit-down restaurants as much as possible in favor of preparing nutritious meals at home. Doing so often saves you time and money too.

Try these nutritious weight loss recipes your entire family will enjoy!

Stay on top of your nutrition with these 5 weekend diet tips!

Attend Routine Wellness Checkups

Believe it or not, attending routine wellness checkups is important for your overall health AND effective weight loss. Your doctor can detect and treat the medical conditions that have been responsible for failed weight loss attempts.

By using holistic treatments or medicines when necessary, your practitioner can treat you for:

  • Hormone imbalance related to menopause
  • Thyroid problems
  • Nutrient deficiencies
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Fatigue and other menopause symptoms
  • Other health issues that may hinder weight loss

If you’re over 40, ask your doctor if hormone replacement therapy is right for you.

Take Dietary Supplements

Adding dietary supplements to your weight loss plan is important for numerous reasons. Supplements nourish your body with essential nutrients you might not be getting enough of with foods alone.

Preventing nutrient deficiencies means more energy, less hair thinning, and healthier skin and nails. Some dietary supplements, such as protein shakes or bars, work well as meal replacements to help you cut calories for weight loss without spending hours in the kitchen preparing food.

Weight loss supplements for women to consider include:

  • Protein shakes with whey, casein, or plant proteins
  • Low-sugar protein bars
  • Fiber supplements
  • Omega-3s from algae or fish oil
  • Probiotics
  • Powdered greens
  • Vitamin D
  • Calcium
  • Multivitamin supplements

Take a multivitamin supplement specially formulated for women over 40. You may require additional vitamins or minerals if your doctor detects a deficiency. For example, you might need extra iron if you’re anemic or additional vitamin D if you’re deficient.

The Natural Hormone Balancer Busy Women 40+ Are Using For Improved Mood, Sleep, Skin, Stress & Easier Weight Loss

At around 40, most women's hormone levels begin a “rollercoaster' ride, which eventually culminates in menopause. You feel tired all the time. It's hard to lose weight. Your body doesn't respond to diet and exercise like it used to. But now, it doesn't have to be that way for you…

Erin Coleman
B.S. - Nutritional Science, R.D., L.D.

Writer, The Fit Mother Project

Erin Coleman is a registered and licensed dietitian with over 15 years of freelance writing experience.

She graduated with her Bachelor of Science degree in nutritional science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and completed her dietetic internship at Viterbo University in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

Prior to beginning her career in medical content writing, Erin worked as Health Educator for the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Internal Medicine.

Her published work appears on hundreds of health and fitness websites, and she’s currently working on publishing her first book! Erin is a wife, and a Mom to two beautiful children.

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*Please know that weight loss results & health changes/improvements vary from individual to individual; you may not achieve similar results. Always consult with your doctor before making health decisions. This is not medical advice – simply very well-researched info on how to lose weight after 40.

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