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Finding hard to manage your weight in your 40s? You are not alone

As we age, we go through so many physical and mental changes it may feel like we are losing control over our bodies.

One of the most common changes people experience in their 40s is weight gain - this is related to lifestyle, hormonal changes, genetics and many other factors.

Why Do We Gain Weight After 40?

Muscle Mass & Metabolisms

Muscle mass typically diminishes from 3 to 8% per decade after the age of 30. When muscle mass declines, so does the rate at which your body burns calories, also known as metabolism. If your metabolic rate slows down, it becomes harder to lose weight.

Increased Inflammation

Another significant change after the 40s is a dysregulation of the immune response, which can lead to chronic inflammatory states. Increased inflammation speeds ageing whilst further decreasing metabolism, creating leptin resistance, insulin resistance and increasing fat stores.

Menopause & Hormonal shifts

Peri-menopause and menopause also slow metabolic rates and lead to weight gain. During menopausal transitions, there's a decline in muscle mass combined with declining estrogen levels.

Estrogen regulates glucose and lipid metabolism, synthesising and breaking down lipids within cells to store fats and energy. When estrogen levels drop during the peri-menopause phase, the body's capacity to break down calories, burn fat, and produce energy is compromised. This leads to fat storage, usually in the lower abdominal area.

How To Manage Weight Gain in Your 40s

1. Be Mindful Of Your Diet

As you age, you do not need as many calories as you used to due to decreased muscle mass. If your goal is to maintain your weight, it's essential to reduce food intake as it becomes more difficult to burn calories as the years go by!

Start by looking into low-carbohydrate diets and add more fruits, grains, and vegetables to your daily meals. It is also essential to reduce your intake of processed foods.

2. Practice Portion Control

Most of us overeat throughout our lives; however, before our 40s, we were able to compensate for that due to higher metabolic rates and physical activity. As we age and our metabolism slows, practising portion control to test if smaller meals can be satisfying becomes essential to manage weight effectively.

3. Build Strength & Get Moving

Physical activity is always important, especially when weight becomes harder to control and maintain.

Unfortunately, one of the natural effects of ageing is the involuntary loss of muscle mass, strength and bone density. Weight and strength training helps to counteract muscle and bone mass loss. The more muscle mass you have, the more calories you will be able to burn; thus, strength training also positively affects your metabolism.

4. Nurture Both Your Mind and Body

It is important to note that looking after your mental health and happiness is as important as managing your physical health - invariably, research proves happiness makes you healthier. Studies also show a consistent pattern in depression and unhappiness in midlife. Therefore, do more of what makes you happy.

The Bottom Line

Weight gain after 40 is natural. However, you can take action to adjust your habits and counteract the effects ageing has on your body.

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