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Weight Loss Tips for Losing Weight After 40 2023


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Medically reviewed by Kathy Shattler, MS, RDN

losing weight after 40

Turning 40 or reaching menopause isn’t exactly the end of the world—the reality is that excess weight accrued during this time might not have much to do with the food on your plate at all. 

Hormonal imbalances, a reduction in muscle mass, and even your genetic code all play their role, but all of them are obstacles that can be met in kind.

Getting older is complicated, but looking and feeling your best doesn’t have to be. Is losing weight after 40 really that difficult?

Reasons Why You Gain Weight After 40

Even if your lifestyle hasn’t changed much over the years, you may still gain weight after hitting middle age. 

This might be the case for many reasons, and not all of them are necessarily under your control. It’s not all fat retention, either—the distribution of weight gained and even the tendency to lose muscle mass with age may all frustrate an otherwise healthy diet and lifestyle.

Here are the most common reasons for weight gain after 40 for women. Some of them are obvious—others might surprise you.


Hormones and weight loss after 40 are intimately entwined. Shifting hormones might be responsible for unwanted pounds that seemingly come from nowhere.

Research suggests that life changes bring a shift in hormonal activity[1] that leaves you predisposed to weight gain, especially in the midsection. Some attribute this effect primarily to a reduction in estrogen secretions, and the same goes for testosterone production in men. 

A Slower Metabolism

The metabolism of a woman over 40 may be significantly slower[2] than pre-menopausal women. As this process carries itself out, one’s resting metabolic rate slows to match. 

Essentially, this means that your body burns fewer calories through maintenance while at rest, which may lead to weight gain and a tendency to store energy in the form of belly fat. And, body fat increases and muscle mass decreases with age which is one reason for the slower metabolism.

Changes In Body Composition

Not all weight loss tips involve your diet and activity levels—the mechanical ability of your body and the muscle mass you can retain through middle age may all leave you much less physically capable[3] than you were in years prior. 

Just like the bone loss of age-related osteoporosis, muscle loss and a diminishment in neuromuscular signaling might make it more challenging to shed pounds through exercise or even ordinary daily activity. Our behavior molds itself to adjustments in our motor skills subconsciously. In essence, we adapt to our “new” bodies[4] and likely burn fewer calories than we would have before.

As we age, it’s crucial to think about ways to maintain muscle mass to stabilize metabolism and weight. 

Your Genes

Genetics might be responsible for fat accumulation and a larger body mass in mid-age—in fact, nearly 500 genes[5] have been identified and linked to obesity, both in one’s prime and later in life.

Some experts argue that one’s genetic code may be more influential than one’s eating habits and fitness levels in many cases. It’s not an insurmountable barrier to overcome, but it’s definitely one factor to consider.

Changes In Lifestyle

When most of us reach this age, we’re just about ready to kick back and take it easy. Middle age and the golden years that follow should certainly be joyful and peaceful, but the good times shouldn’t come at the expense of your overall well-being.

As mentioned above, less exercise may lead to reduced muscle mass, which might mean you’re now less physical on a daily basis than you used to be, often without even realizing it. You may also be eating more extravagantly than you were in your youth as our income stabilizes and our access to food increases.

How to Lose Weight After 40?

There is some good news: no matter what age you are, it’s entirely possible to encourage weight loss through a healthy lifestyle, mindful eating, and regular exercise. The only difficult part is getting the ball rolling. Once you do, though, you’re on your way.

Here are the best healthy habits for weight loss over 40. Kiss those extra pounds goodbye, and enjoy better mobility, improved flexibility, and healthier digestion, to boot.

More Physical Activity

The most foolproof way to prevent weight gain is, of course, to increase your activity levels and achieve a healthy caloric deficit[6]. You can exercise regularly without the gym membership, too, especially if you have a family to chase or a few hobbies that keep you moving.

If you’re not exactly a He-Man, low-impact fitness classes like Zumba and spin classes or group activities like hiking deliver low-impact exercise that will keep you looking and feeling great. Throwing yourself into chores like housework and gardening can also get your heart pumping. 

We love online fitness videos, internet fitness gurus, and things of that nature when garnering motivation and workout ideas, but you don’t need to be a fitness expert in burning fat. Even a simple walk or jog around your neighborhood can help you develop lean muscle as your metabolism slows with age.

A Better Weight Management Diet

Few pleasures in life go beyond delicious food. Treating yourself on occasion is fine—it’s the rest of the time that really ends up counting toward your waistline.

We love a good meal prep routine, especially if you’re busy with work or familial obligations. Great options are always on-hand and ready to go, pushing unhealthy foods like frozen meals, sugary foods, and fried foods full of refined carbs off of the table. 

Cooking every day is also awesome if you have the time—be sure to load every meal up with lean protein, healthy fats, and healthy carbs to keep yourself feeling satisfied and focused in between. When the munchies come calling’, healthy snacks like yogurt, nuts, fresh fruits, and chopped veggies can all step in without pushing you over your daily calorie limit.


If food intake your way is non-negotiable, we recommend ratcheting things up in the gym or on your exercise mat. High-intensity interval training, HIIT for short, will deliver the best bang for your buck in terms of calorie expenditure.

HIIT can be a doozy, but exercising in this way is one great strategy[7] when targeting body fat, especially in the midsection. Resistance training exercises may also be able to improve your insulin resistance, help you manage your blood sugar, and even suppress your appetite.

Hiring a Certified Personal Trainer

Still not seeing your desired results? It never hurts to consult a real professional if you have the cash to burn. A personal trainer and even a registered dietitian can help you lose weight by guiding you toward ways to decrease calorie intake and increase calorie burning. How?

One huge aspect that plays into the effectiveness of every workout will be both your form and your drive. Going for it on your own might feel less intrusive or embarrassing, but these people are professionals trained to recognize anything holding you back. Remote personal trainers are also one great option if you’re busy or homebound for any reason.

Increasing Fiber Intake

The health benefits of increasing your daily fiber intake go from here to the moon. If a person of any age wants to eat healthy, sufficient fiber is essential.

The American Heart Association recommends at least 25 to 30 grams of fiber daily to maintain a healthy weight. Studies show that this doesn’t necessarily all need to come to you in whole foods form[8], either. Fiber supplements made of things like psyllium husk can increase the fiber content of everything from smoothies to baked goods.

Stress Management and Breathing Exercises

Will yoga help you lose weight? It might not be the fastest way to burn calories, but stretching and breathing exercises in any form can improve your blood circulation and help you manage stress.

This impacts your weight through both hormones and our habits—when we’re feeling relaxed, and at ease, we’re much more likely to avoid eating emotionally and much more capable of engaging with the most important parts of our life.

Sometimes, managing stress might be as simple as taking a day to yourself for some much-needed self-care. A long bath, a hot cup of tea, and a good movie can all help you succeed in your weight loss journey, no matter what age you are.

Difficulty Losing Weight When You’re Older?

We can relate. If you’re dissatisfied with your body and something needs to change, we encourage you to take a step back, figure the problem out, and seek the advice of a professional if you’re truly at a loss.

Losing weight only feels like an uphill battle before day one. Cook good food, keep your body moving, and make time for small pleasures and for the love of those around you. We guarantee you’ll be able to feel the difference once you’ve given a better way of life an honest try.

+ 8 sources

Health Canal avoids using tertiary references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic researches from medical associations and institutions. To ensure the accuracy of articles in Health Canal, you can read more about the editorial process here

  1. Karvonen-Gutierrez, C. and Kim, C. (2016). Association of Mid-Life Changes in Body Size, Body Composition and Obesity Status with the Menopausal Transition. Healthcare, [online] 4(3), p.42. doi:10.3390/healthcare4030042.
  2. ‌St-Onge, M.-P. and Gallagher, D. (2010). Body composition changes with aging: The cause or the result of alterations in metabolic rate and macronutrient oxidation? Nutrition, [online] 26(2), pp.152–155. doi:10.1016/j.nut.2009.07.004.
  3. ‌Keller, K. and Engelhardt, M. (2014). Strength and muscle mass loss with aging process. Age and strength loss. Muscles, ligaments and tendons journal, [online] 3(4), pp.346–50. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3940510/#b9-346-350].
  4. ‌Morrison, S. and Newell, K.M. (2012). Aging, Neuromuscular Decline, and the Change in Physiological and Behavioral Complexity of Upper-Limb Movement Dynamics. Journal of Aging Research, [online] 2012, pp.1–14. doi:10.1155/2012/891218.
  5. ‌Gabrielli, A.P., Manzardo, A.M. and Butler, M.G. (2017). Exploring genetic susceptibility to obesity through genome functional pathway analysis. Obesity, [online] 25(6), pp.1136–1143. doi:10.1002/oby.21847.
  6. ‌Kim, J.Y. (2021). Optimal Diet Strategies for Weight Loss and Weight Loss Maintenance. Journal of Obesity & Metabolic Syndrome, [online] 30(1), pp.20–31. doi:10.7570/jomes20065.
  7. ‌Boutcher, S.H. (2011). High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise and Fat Loss. Journal of Obesity, [online] 2011, pp.1–10. doi:10.1155/2011/868305.
  8. ‌Howarth, N.C., Saltzman, E. and Roberts, S.B. (2009). Dietary Fiber and Weight Regulation. Nutrition Reviews, [online] 59(5), pp.129–139. doi:10.1111/j.1753-4887.2001.tb07001.x.

Medically reviewed by:

Kathy Shattler

Emma Garofalo is a writer based in Pittsburgh, PA. A lover of science, art, and all things culinary, few things excite her more than the opportunity to learn about something new." It is now in the sheet in the onboarding paperwork, apologies!!

Medically reviewed by:

Kathy Shattler

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