7 Factors That Make It Harder to Lose Weight After 40
Updated March 3, 2023.
Losing weight is tough at any age. No one wants to give up their favorite desserts or work out every day, but aging makes things even more difficult—once you cross 40, it's much harder to lose weight.
Even if you've been cutting carbs and sugar or avoiding fried food, the weight can just creep up slowly. Crash diets seem to work for a short time, and your weight takes a plunge but then shoots up even higher the moment you start eating normally. It can be frustrating and depressing.
However, understanding the factors that make it harder to lose weight after 40 is the key to successful weight loss. Here are seven factors that may be working against your weight loss.
7 Reasons Why It’s Hard to Lose Weight After 40
- Slower metabolism
- Loss of muscle mass
- Hormonal changes
- Less exercise time
- Unhealthy diet
- High stress levels
- Sleep deprivation
1. Your Metabolism Slows Down
Changes in your metabolism are the primary reason why whatever worked for weight loss before doesn’t work now. In our 20s and even early 30s, our metabolism is high, so some diet changes and increasing activity levels are enough to shed unwanted pounds. However, these same efforts make less difference as we cross into our 40s since our metabolism slows down considerably.
Nevertheless, there are many things you can do to boost your metabolism and get all the benefits of a fast metabolism. These include eating specific foods and doing activities that help improve your metabolism, even in your 50s or 60s.
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2. You Lose Muscle Mass
One of the main causes of a sluggish metabolism is the lack of muscle. Women especially tend to lose muscle mass since estrogen levels start dropping in their 40s, and this reduction in muscle mass and increase in body fat reduce calorie burning.
As age increases, activity levels also drop compared to when you were younger. This further reduces calorie burning, and when you take in more calories than you burn, you naturally end up gaining weight instead of losing it.
3. You Experience Hormonal Changes
As menopause approaches, hormones go out of whack—your estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone fluctuate constantly, creating a cascade of changes, from mood swings to poor sex drive, decreased muscle mass, and low bone density.
During the period of perimenopause, estrogen loss increases the tendency to accumulate menopausal weight in the form of belly fat, which further aggravates metabolic derangement. As metabolism drops and fat gain increases, insulin resistance develops, leading to complications such as pre-diabetes and eventually diabetes, and increasing the risk of heart disease.
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4. You Have Less Time for Exercise
In your 40s, you're likely to be successful in your career, and work is going in full swing, with a considerable amount of responsibilities. With the time required to commute back and forth from work and the added responsibilities of taking care of the home and possibly growing kids (probably approaching their teens), taking care of themselves becomes last on the list for most women.
There's no time to even go for a walk, much less the gym. Exhausted at the end of the day, many women have no energy to even think of exercising, and this lack of regular exercise makes it harder to lose weight. So, consider making time for taking a run or doing some metabolic workouts, as this sort of activity can make a world of difference.
5. You Eat More Unhealthy Foods
In the mad rush of the busy lifestyle, there's no time to make proper meals or even take a proper lunch break. Your options probably alternate between grabbing something from the vending machine or ordering something carb and calorie-loaded. Naturally, this unhealthy nutrition impacts your weight and contributes to your difficulty losing weight. So, choosing healthy food solutions can go a long way in expediting your weight loss after 40.
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6. Your Stress Levels May Be High
Home and work-related stress also work against your weight loss efforts. By the time you're in your 40s, you may already be stuck between caring for your children and your elderly parents, which could be making you more stressed.
Higher stress levels trigger the stress hormone cortisol, which pumps up the levels of ghrelin, your hunger hormone. Stress generally causes you not just to eat more but to have less willpower to stop reaching out for high-sugar, high-carb choices such as chocolates, sugary sodas, and ice creams. So, consider taking the time to relax and unwind or do some exercise to fight those high stress levels.
» Fight stress with exercise: See why working out makes you happier
7. You Could Be Sleep Deprived
You may be sleeping late due to your office workload, or it's the ones under your care that may be keeping you up at night. Whether it's because of a sick child or a project deadline, sleep deprivation is known to increase the risk of obesity and metabolic diseases such as diabetes.
The lack of sleep impacts glucose regulation and may result in insulin resistance, which in turn makes it difficult for you to lose weight. Insulin regulates glucose absorption by the cells and works as your fat-storage hormone.
So, you should make an effort to create a healthy bedtime routine. Put away all electronic devices a couple of hours before bedtime. If night sweats and hot flashes are keeping you awake, take shower before bed and wear loose, comfortable nightwear to bed.
Lose Weight Easily Even After 40
There are many factors that influence weight gain and weight loss, especially once you cross into your 40s. While some of these are happening inside your body, the rest are lifestyle-based.
Hormonal changes, slow metabolism, and loss of muscle mass are all natural parts of aging, but you can still do many things to balance your hormones, boost your metabolism, and build more muscle.
You can also be more self-aware and make the necessary lifestyle changes for losing unwanted weight and protecting your health—sleep on time, eat right, exercise regularly, and reduce your stress levels. There are many simple and quick exercise routines designed to help lose weight after the age of 40, along with solutions for boosting your metabolism and shedding those pounds.