Ideally, the older you get, the more difficult it is for you to lose weight. The reasons why it’s so hard to lose some pounds after you turn 40 can vary from person to person, especially as a result of genetics in weight gain.
Other factors responsible may be the reduced metabolism in older age and changes in hormones, especially in women going through menopause.
Lifestyle-related factors play a vital role too. Older men and women may be less physically able to exercise the way they used to when they were younger.
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However, losing weight is not totally impossible if you keep those primary causes in mind. Susan Weiner, a registered dietitian and nutritionist and certified diabetes educator, told Healthline:
“It’s often not imagined that our weight has changed or even the proportions of weight distribution even if the scale number stays the same. It’s a real thing. You’re not imagining it.”
The first step to weight loss may be recognizing whether there’s something that’s an easy fix. If something happened, like a change in job or relationship, it can affect the number of times you’re eating and how you are eating.
“Those changes in eating nutritionally can affect your weight, if you used to eat with other people, you maybe had more vegetables. Alone, you may be eating less healthy foods,” Weiner said.
Also associated with weight gain is changes in sleep patterns. You might have stayed up late in your 20s and not seen any weight issues, less sleep after 40, more likely due to parenting or a demanding job than partying all night, is more of a problem.
Moreover, said Weiner, “People tend to eat when they’re tired.”
What you eat matters a lot. Experts suggest eating more vegetables, more protein, and less saturated fats.
Another factor responsible for age-related weight gain may be that your joints can no longer handle those daily jogs, long bike rides, or weekly pick-up basketball games.
Sarcopenia, the loss of muscle tissue that occurs as a natural part of the aging process, starts around age 40.
Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RD, LD, a licensed, registered dietitian who is wellness manager at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute, says 40 percent of muscle mass will disappear between 40 and 80. This process contributes to slower metabolism since muscle burns more calories than fat.
She recommends resistance or strength training to maintain muscle as an alternative to joint-jarring runs and getting a workout friend, especially around your age.
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That will likely keep you more accountable as you try to stick with your new exercise routine — and it may keep you from developing depression and poor eating habits.
And there’s the benefit of seeing you’re not the only one working through these problems in this new stage of life. This can lead to your expectations changing as well as leading to less worry about weight loss and more body acceptance, Weiner said.