Various weight loss programs for women over 40 exist, and choosing the right one for you is the key to long-term success. There's no such thing as a one-size-fits-all weight loss program for women over 40.
There are a few things to keep in mind when searching for a weight loss program that best matches your individual needs.
Dieting isn't All About Food
What you eat is important when following a weight loss program for women over 40, but your diet isn't the only thing to consider.
In fact, there are many other lifestyle habits that could be just as important, if not more so. Implementing a holistic approach is the efficient means of adopting a new weight loss program.
When planning a weight loss program for women over 40, try the following:
Have the Right Mindset
Making up your mind to lose weight is the first step in the process. Decide that it's more important to get excess weight off and be healthy than to eat unhealthy foods you may love.
Allow yourself cheat days every now and then so you don’t feel deprived, but make the commitment to eating better, staying active, and making other healthy lifestyle changes needed for long term weight loss success.
Adopt a Healthy Lifestyle
A healthy lifestyle means more than simply adopting a reduced-calorie weight loss meal plan. Try the following healthy lifestyle tips and tricks to boost your chance at weight loss success:
- Sleep at least 7 hours each night
- Keep stress levels low
- Drink 2 cups of water before meals
- Avoid eating while distracted (watching TV, etc.)
- Fight depression
- Spend time outdoors
- Stand or walk instead of sitting when possible
- Work on personal development
- Enhance your spirituality
- Attend regular health checkups
Unbalanced hormone levels, taking certain medications, and other medical conditions can hinder weight loss. That's why regular medical checkups are so important for effective weight loss and healthy weight management.
Listen to Internal Cues
Unless hunger hormones or your metabolism is off, your body gives you internal clues that you are or aren't hungry. Listen to hunger cues that might include:
- Stomach growling
- Bad breath
- Low blood sugar
- Difficulty concentrating
- An empty feeling in your stomach
Before you eat, ask yourself: are you truly hungry? Or is eating a desire because you see or smell food, are at a restaurant with friends, or feel sad or bored? If you're not sure, drink a large glass of water and reevaluate possible hunger cues.
Make a Financial Commitment to Weight Loss
There are numerous ways you can make a financial commitment to weight loss, so you have more than will power invested in your weight loss journey. Sign up for a weight loss program, such as the Fit Mother Project 30X (FM30X), which is specifically designed for women over 40. You can also make a financial investment in weight loss by hiring a health coach or personal trainer, buying smaller-sized clothes, and purchasing healthy weight loss foods or meal replacement shakes.
Shopping Lists for Weight Loss in Women Over 40
Before beginning a weight loss program for women over 40, shop for nutritious foods that fill you up without the extra calories and keep energy levels high. Fill:
1. Half of each plate with non-starchy vegetables
2. One-fourth of each plate with protein foods
3. one-fourth of each plate with fiber-rich starches
Doing so creates the perfect plate of food for weight loss in women over 40.
Nutritious Protein Foods
The following grocery list includes healthy protein foods you can use when following a weight loss program for women over 40:
- Grilled chicken or turkey
- Very lean, fresh meats
- Salmon, tuna, catfish, or other low-mercury fish
- Shrimp or other seafood
- Low-fat cottage cheese
- Nonfat Greek yogurt
- Tofu or seitan
- Reduced-fat cheese
- Plant milk
- Protein powder
- Nuts and seeds
These vegetables are non-starchy, meaning they contain just 5 grams (or less) of carbohydrates per serving. Eat a variety of these veggies when following a weight loss plan for women over 40:
- Spinach, lettuce, or other leafy greens
- Green beans
- Bell peppers
The following foods are rich in fiber and carbohydrates, and are part of a healthy weight loss meal plan because they fill you up for long time periods and give you energy:
- Brown rice
- Wild rice
- Whole-grain pasta
- Dried beans
- Sweet potatoes with the skin
Heart healthy fats, while higher in calories than protein and carbohydrates, keep you full longer and are an important component of weight loss plans for women over 40. Choose a healthy fat at each meal, such as:
- Plant oils
- Fish oil
- Nut butters
- Oil-based dressings
Foods to AVOID
You probably already know about many of the foods you should avoid when weight loss is your goal. Choose the healthy foods listed above in recommended portions to help avoid cravings for junk food, such as:
- Fast foods
- Fried foods
- Baked goods
- Refined grains like white bread
- Frozen pizza
- Other prepackaged foods
- Other processed snack foods
- Sugary drinks
Cooking at home vs. dining out helps you avoid fried and processed foods, and added ingredients often hidden in restaurant foods.
Healthy Weight Loss Recipes
When you begin a weight loss plan for women over 40, try the following nutritious recipes to get started.
- Zucchini noodles with avocado pesto and shrimp
- Mexican cabbage soup
- Meal replacement weight loss smoothies
- Cod with Italian crumb topping
- Slow cooker chicken creole
- Citrus poached salmon with asparagus
- White turkey chili
- Falafel patties
Adjust portion sizes as needed so you’re eating about 300-350 calories per meal, for a total of 1,200-1,500 calories per day. Aim to eat smaller, more frequent meals every few hours rather two or three large meals.
Examples of Weight Loss Diet Plans for Women
Numerous weight loss diets for women over 40 exist, which is why choosing one that best matches your individual needs is the key to long term success. Pick a weight loss program based on your food preferences and lifestyle. Examples of different weight loss diets that have been effective in research studies include:
1. Low-Carb Diets
Numerous studies show that choosing a low-carb, higher-fat diet is an effective weight loss strategy.
One such study published in 2018 in the Journal of European Nutrition found that lower-carb diets containing 100-150 grams of carbs per day appear to be a practical way to drop excess weight.
To reduce your carb intake to less than 150 grams per day, reduce or eliminate bread, pasta, potatoes, cereal, sweets, baked goods, and sugary drinks. Focus on protein foods, healthy fats, and non-starchy vegetables.
2. Low-Fat Diets
Low-fat diets help reduce your overall calorie intake for weight loss, and some women prefer low-fat vs. low-carb diets. Research shows that both low-fat and low-carb diets can be effective for weight loss, but some studies say low-carb diets are more effective long term. This might be because of the satiating effects higher-fat diets often have. Either way, low-fat diets can work for weight loss if you burn more calories than you eat.
3. Vegetarian/Vegan Diets
Cutting out meat and other animal foods is a strategy some women use to shed unwanted pounds, and for good reason.
Studies show that vegetarian dieting, especially vegan dieting, leads to greater weight loss vs. non-vegetarian eating plans.
Cut out red meat, processed meat, poultry, and seafood to go vegetarian – or nix animal foods entirely to further enhance weight loss.
4. Whole Food Diets
A whole food diet is also beneficial for weight loss and improved health parameters. That’s because whole foods, or foods that haven’t been processed, are healthier for you and usually lower in calories than foods processed with sugar and other additives.
When following a whole foods diet you’ll eat lots of fruits, vegetables, unprocessed whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, plant oils, organic plant milks, and fresh poultry or fish if you eat animal foods. You'll steer clear of sweets, sugary drinks, white bread, other processed grains, fried foods, baked goods, and other packaged snack foods.
5. Well Balanced, Reduced-Calorie Diets
Well-balanced, reduced-calorie weight loss plans for women over 40 often contain about 1,200-1,500 calories per day. They provide a good mix of carbohydrates, protein, and nutritious fats in recommended amounts, but include smaller portions than traditional meal plans.
For example, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 1,200-calorie meal plan for weight loss includes:
- 1 1/2 cups of vegetables
- 1 cup of fruit
- 4 ounces of whole grains
- 2 1/2 cups of dairy foods or plant milks
- 3 ounces of protein foods
- 4 teaspoons of oils
- 100 extra calories
This well-balanced plan helps you meet daily nutritional needs and feel satisfied during weight loss.
6. Mediterranean Diets
By switching from a standard American diet to a Mediterranean-style meal plan, you’ll lower your risk of weight gain and abdominal obesity, according to numerous studies. Additional studies show that Mediterranean-style diets are more effective than low-fat diets and just as beneficial as low-carbohydrate diets for weight loss.
Mediterranean-style weight loss programs for women over 40 focus on fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, fish, seafood, extra virgin olive oil, and herbs. You’ll avoid red meat, processed meats, sweets, sugary drinks, refined oils, refined grains, and other processed foods – and might choose poultry, cheese, yogurt, and eggs in moderation.
7. Meal Replacement Diets
Drinking meal replacement smoothies is an excellent way to shed unwanted pounds over 40.
Simply replace one or two meals with a protein-rich shake to help boost satiety from fewer calories.
Try homemade weight loss protein smoothie recipes providing about 300 calories per shake, or look for ready-to-drink meal replacements containing little to no added sugar.
Weight Loss Exercises for Women Over 40
Any form of regular exercise is better than being sedentary, but the best weight loss exercise plan for you is based on your experience level and exercise preferences. As a rule, aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week.
- Jog at a pace of 5 miles per hour for 45 minutes
- Use an elliptical trainer for 40 minutes
- Swim the crawl stroke for 30 minutes
- Rope jump for 35 minutes
- Rock climb for 30 minutes
- Cycle at a pace of 15 miles per hour for 35 minutes
- Circuit train for 45 minutes
- Do calisthenics for 45 minutes
- Row for 45 minutes
- Use a ski machine for 35 minutes
Strength and Circuit Training
Add strength training to the aerobic workouts above or try circuit training, using various combinations of the following exercises:
- Medicine ball slams
- Box jumps or box step-ups
- Side-to-side jumps
- Front-to-back jumps
- Jumping jacks
- Rope jumping
- Walking dumbbell lunges
- Dumbbell or barbell biceps curls
- Triceps dips, triceps extensions, or triceps kickbacks
- Medicine ball squat throws
- Dumbbell or barbell bent-over rows
- Pushups or dumbbell chest press
- Squat to press
- Barbell squats
- Squat to kickbacks
- Traditional planks
- Plank rows
- Russian twists
- Lying leg raises
Aim to complete 2-4 sets of 30-60 seconds of each of exercise you choose, and take minimal rest periods between sets to maximize fat burning. For example, a full-body workout might include:
- Circuit 1: 30-60 seconds of squat to press or medicine ball squat throws, 30-60 seconds of burpees, and 30-60 seconds of Russian twists.
- Circuit 2: 30-60 seconds of walking dumbbell lunges, 30-60 seconds of rope jumping, and 30-60 seconds of plank rows.
- Circuit 3: 30-60 seconds of dead lifts, 30-60 seconds of biceps curls, and 30-60 seconds of side-to-side jumps.
- Circuit 4: 30-60 seconds of box jumps or step-ups, 30-60 seconds of jumping jacks, and 30-60 seconds of lying leg raises.
Complete each circuit 2-4 times, and add extra circuits if you'd like!
Which Weight Loss Program for Women Over 40 Is Best?
The right weight loss program for women over 40 is one that best matches your preferences, and is something you can stick with long term. The Fit Mother Project 30X (FM30X) is a weight loss and healthy weight management plan for women over 40 that’s helped thousands of people lose weight and keep it off for life. When signing up for FM30X, you’ll receive:
- Motivational support to stay on track with your program
- Customized meal plans
- Numerous fat-burning workouts
- Coaching from health experts
- Access to a community of fit moms
To get started, sign up for your free Fit Mom starter kit today, which includes a free 1-day fat-loss meal plan, a free metabolism-boosting workout, free email coaching, and Fit Mom Facebook group access! Because this kit is entirely FREE, you've got nothing to lose by signing up!
Writer, The Fit Father Project
A 15-year freelance writing veteran, Erin is registered dietitian and health educator who is passionate about health, fitness and disease prevention. Her published work appears on hundreds of health and fitness websites, and she’s working on publishing her first book! Erin is a wife and mom of two beautiful children.