Unfortunately, we can’t have the metabolism of a teenager forever. If you’re a woman entering your 40s who’s realized you’re putting on a little extra weight, you’re not alone! Several factors contribute to this weight gain. Luckily, there are ways to manage your weight during this time. Below, we’ll discuss a few reasons women gain weight in their 40s and share some tips for shedding those extra pounds.
Why do you gain weight in your 40s?
There are several reasons women start to gain weight in their 40s, including but not limited to:
- Slower metabolism – Once you hit your 40s, you can count on your metabolic rate to slow down a bit. Lower estrogen levels contribute to the metabolic slowdown.
- Hormones – It’s no secret that your hormones start to get out of equilibrium as you near menopause. From estrogen to progesterone to testosterone, your hormones will be experiencing a lot of fluctuation. This means you’ll also likely experience weight gain, as hormones control many of your body’s regulatory functions, including hunger. Hunger cues can get wonky when levels of ghrelin, which alerts your body that you’re hungry, and leptin, which sends the cues that you’re full, fluctuate.
- Loss of lean muscle – Around your 40s, and especially when you hit menopause, you’ll likely start to lose muscle mass due to lower estrogen and testosterone levels. This can lead to weight gain since muscle mass is one of the largest components of how many calories you burn each day.
- Stress levels – You have a lot on your plate in your 40s. Work is stressful, finances can put a strain on you, and if you have a family to take care of, that’s just the icing on the cake. All of these stressors can cause your cortisol levels to spike, which can lead to lower blood sugar, and, in turn, a larger appetite for sugary sweets.
Weight loss tips
Just because weight gain is a common part of reaching your 40s, it doesn’t mean you can’t stay on top of your health and shed some of those extra pounds with a little bit of work! Here are a few tips for boosting your metabolism and losing weight in middle age:
- Make sure you’re eating veggies – Ensuring you’re consuming enough vegetables is one of the most important parts of maintaining a healthy diet and, in turn, keeping your weight down. Aim for five cups a day (but make sure you get at least two or three minimum) to get all the valuable nutrients your body needs and protect itself from disease. Not only are vegetables great for you, but they also fill you up faster due to their high fiber content. Plus, they support healthy digestion and regulate your blood sugar and insulin levels.
- Go easy on the alcohol – As much as a cocktail can help you unwind at the end of the day, it’s best to keep alcohol to a minimum when you’re trying to lose weight in your 40s. A glass of wine now and then is fine – and can even help with weight management – but don’t go overboard or cross into binge drinking territory. Drinking alcohol with your meals makes it less likely that your body will burn those calories, as it’s focused on breaking down the alcohol – and we all know how easy it is to overeat when we’ve had a bit too much to drink. Plus, alcohol can lead to an unhealthy sleepy cycle, which will throw your metabolism off. Try to stick to just one drink per day, or limit your alcohol consumption to the weekends.
- Stay active and diversify your workouts – Movement is everything! And it’s best to have a balance of exercise each day. That means incorporating everyday movement (like getting your daily steps in) with planned activities like bike rides or elliptical machines and resistance-training or high-intensity workouts. To shed those extra pounds, get yourself on a workout schedule that works for you – and at the very least, make sure you’re stretching regularly and walking as much as you can throughout the day. All of this will boost your metabolism and maintain that muscle mass essential to burn calories.
- Stay on a healthy sleep schedule – Did you know that sleep is closely linked with metabolism? If you’re not getting enough of it or your schedule isn’t healthy, you can run into issues with your appetite-regulating hormones. You’ll want to eat more. You’ll crave more sweets and less healthy foods, and when you are full, the hormones that are supposed to let you know that won’t be on their A-game. Make sure you’re getting 8 hours of sleep every night to prevent this. If you have trouble falling asleep, start winding down 30 minutes to an hour before bedtime with some calming exercises and a cup of caffeine-free tea – or switch your phone out for a relaxing book!
We get it: gaining weight can cause our self-esteem to take a hit, no matter what age we are. But with a little effort and a healthy diet, you can keep your body as healthy as possible. The most important thing is feeling good and staying healthy – which often leads to looking great, too!