40 can be a tough time if you’re trying to stay or get lean. Around the age of 40 we experience hormonal shifts that can make it feel like it’s impossible to lose weight. The good news is it’s not impossible – it just takes a bit more thought and effort.
Here are my top 5 tips for staying lean over 40:
Eat enough of the right stuff
When you suddenly find that you’re struggling to keep weight off it can be tempting to cut calories. Don’t do it! You need to fuel your body correctly and sufficiently or you’ll end up making things worse. If you don’t get enough food your body will slow its metabolism down in order to conserve calories and fat so it can survive.
A sedentary woman should not go below 1500 calories and a sedentary man should not go below 2000. If you’re conscious of your weight most likely you’re leading an active lifestyle. This means you need more calories. You can get a rough idea of how many by using an online calorie calculator.
It’s not as simple as just eating the correct amount of calories though! You need to eat the right amounts of the right foods. Cut out sugar and processed foods as much as possible – save them for your cheat day if you have to have them. Try experimenting with your macro-nutrients. A good place to start is 40% protein, 30% carbs and 30% healthy fats. Use My Fitness Pal to help you keep track.
You should also include a good probiotic in your diet. Most people are not digesting their food properly because their gut flora has been thrown off by sugar, processed foods and exposure to antibiotics. If you’re not digesting what you’re eating, even the healthiest diet will not result in optimum health. You can buy probiotics in capsule form or eat yogurt and/or other fermented foods.
Use a food journal!
For most people over 40 you can’t just estimate what you’re eating like you could in your 20s. You need to weigh, measure and track! I know it sounds like a pain in the ass (and it can be) but commit to at least one week of measuring and weighing. After a week you’ll become more familiar with what a proper serving size looks like and you may even find that you don’t mind weighing an measuring your food. I use My Fitness Pal to keep track and it’s been a game changer.
Strength train and do not over-do cardio!
If you don’t strength train, start now! Hire a trainer for a few sessions so you can learn how to do it properly. If you already strength train make sure you’re going heavy enough and mix it up every 4-6 weeks. Do heavy weights that cause momentary muscle failure within 8-10 reps. After about 4 weeks of that switch to lighter weights where you can do 12-15 reps. After that try adding some plyo moves to your workout…..the possibilities are endless! If you need help with a program I can help you 😉
Do cardio but don’t do too much. 20-30 minutes per session 3-6 days a week is enough. Do High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). If you do too much cardio all you’re doing is training your body to store more fat. And, when you over tax your body with cardio your body may need to burn muscle for fuel. This is the last thing you want. Low muscle means low metabolism.
Hydration is key. A dehydrated body is a sick body. Did you know that when you’re dehydrated you won’t burn fat as efficiently? Aim for 3-4 litres per day. You can keep track of this on My Fitness Pal too.
Get your rest.
You need to rest. When you don’t get enough sleep your cortisol levels rise and this can lead to a cascade of events that will cause your body to store fat. If you have trouble sleeping try using melatonin or magnesium at night. You can also try meditation and making sure your bedroom is dark and kept at a cool temperature.
Being Over 40 Is No Excuse!
Don’t fall into the habit of blaming your age for your weight. You can lose weight and stay lean at any age, it just takes a bit more thought and effort. If it’s really worth it to you, you will be lean and healthy for the rest of your life.