Why does it seem to be so much harder to lose weight when we hit the Big 4-0? Has something magical happened overnight? More importantly, is there any remedy to the situation?
As hard as it might be for all of you to believe, I am approaching 40 myself in a couple of years - surely not! I too am aware of the changes in my body, but before I don my pipe and slippers, let me take you through the facts for any of you in the same boat.
Most people will blame a slow or damaged metabolism at some stage when it comes to stagnated fat loss. Now, it is true there is a slight slowing of our metabolism as we age, but only to the extent of 50 calories every 10 years. In the grand scheme of things, it's miniscule. A short brisk walk would burn more calories than that.
However, some other factors to consider are that we tend to become less active as we age. Our priorities and attention shift to grown-up stuff and as such, our priorities may change in regards to exercise and nutrition. Long work hours can perhaps reduce activity levels and time can become a valuable commodity. As activity decreases, so does the amount of calories you burn while the calories we consume may remain unchanged or even increase.
Rates of sarcopenia (muscle loss ) increase as we age and are even more usual in post-menopausal women. However, we can prevent the onset of sarcopenia through resistance training and adequate dietary protein.
For the female population, menopause impacts at a hormonal level, leading to a reduction in estrogen, which can cause your fat distribution to change, meaning potentially more fat depositing around the midsection. So you could well be in a calorie deficit and losing fat from your whole body, while 'gaining' body fat around your midriff, where in fact, it's just a redistribution of body fat from other areas. It’s a time of change and can be a tough mental readjustment. Control what is in your control - this is all you can really do. Focus on resistance training, healthy body fat levels, sleep quality, and maintain a nutritious diet, full of essential vitamins and minerals.
Despite all of the above, the principles of a calorie deficit still apply. Once you know how many calories you need to consume in order to lose fat, it is then just a case of consistent adherence to the plan, and patience. Although, do remember, these recommendations don't take into consideration any illnesses and diseases you may be more susceptible to as you age. However, a lot of benefits can be seen in these age-related diseases through exercise and nutrition interventions towards body composition.
Trying to lose weight over 40 does pose challenges, but it is still very possible to live a lean, healthy, and happy life at any age.
Micheál Penston is the Head Coach at FM Fitness & Nutrition based in Westport. They specialize in helping busy men and women create the healthiest versions of themselves by educating and empowering them around all areas of their lifestyle, fitness, nutrition, recovery,y and behaviours. You can grab a free copy of the 5 Stage Health & Fitness Kickstarter or find out more about their online and in-person coaching methods at www.fmfitnessnutrition.com or social media handles @fmfitnessnutrition