Reaching the age of 40 is a significant milestone that often brings about various changes in your body, including shifts in metabolism and hormonal fluctuations. As you navigate this new chapter, maintaining a healthy weight becomes increasingly challenging, and the traditional weight loss methods you’ve used before may yield different results. However, with the right approach and focusing on nourishing your body, you can achieve and maintain a healthy weight over 40.
This article explores a carefully curated list of the best foods for weight loss over 40. Incorporating these foods into your diet can optimize your nutritional intake and support your weight loss goals. These foods are selected based on their ability to boost metabolism, regulate hormones, and provide essential nutrients to support overall health.
How To Lose Weight Over 40?
Your dietary choices as a woman over 40 plays an important role. Losing weight may require a slightly different approach compared to when you were younger. As you age, your amount of estrogen goes down, and hormonal fluctuations occur. These changes can impact your metabolism, body composition, and overall well-being. Studies even show that other changes, like gaining weight in new places and having fat that doesn’t go away, can affect how long you live1.
A balanced and nutrient-dense diet forms the cornerstone of successful weight loss over 40. Opting for whole, unprocessed foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats provides essential nutrients while promoting satiety and managing calorie intake.
Additionally, paying attention to portion sizes is crucial, as your body may require fewer calories at this age. Being mindful of portion control and practicing intuitive eating can help prevent overeating and promote weight management. Understanding these changes is essential to develop effective strategies for weight loss.
The Right Number Of Calories
Women over 40 who want to lose weight need to watch how many calories they eat.
As you get older, your metabolism starts to slow down, which means you need fewer calories.
Dietary Guidelines for Americans say that women over 40 should eat the following number of calories based on how busy they are to stay at a healthy weight2:
- Age 41-50: 1,800-2,200 calories
- Age 51-60: 1,600-2,200 calories
- Age 61 and older: 1,600-2,000 calories
If you want to lose weight, take 500 to 1,000 calories from what you usually eat.
For many women, this means eating between 1,200 and 1,500 calories per day, or up to 1,800 calories per day if they are heavier or more busy.
To lose weight with a low-calorie diet, try to eat about:
- Three meals containing about 300-350 calories each
- 2-3 snacks containing 200-250 calories each
Best Foods For Weight Loss Over 40
Adding certain foods to your weight loss diet plan can help you reach your weight loss goals and improve your health. Here are some of the best foods to consume:
- Leafy Greens
Spinach, kale, arugula, and Swiss chard are high in nitrates. Nitrates, albeit not nutrients, are essential as you age.
Nitrates are converted into nitric oxide in the body, a compound that helps increase blood flow, support vasodilation (widening of blood vessels), and maintain proper vascular function3. This is particularly important for individuals over 40, as age-related changes can impact blood circulation and cardiovascular health.
Berries like strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries are a weight-loss-friendly option due to their nutrient density. Packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, these tasty fruits support overall health while being low in calories.
- Lean Protein
Incorporate lean protein sources into your diet, such as skinless poultry, fish, tofu, beans, and lentils. Protein helps you feel full and supports muscle maintenance.
- Whole Grains
Opt for whole grains like quinoa, brown rice, oats, and whole wheat bread instead of refined grains. Whole grains provide more fiber and nutrients, helping you feel satisfied and maintaining steady blood sugar levels.
- Fruits and Vegetable
Load up on fruits and vegetables, as they are low in calories and high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. These nutrient-dense foods can help you feel full and reduce overall calorie intake.
- Healthy Fats
Include sources of healthy fats, such as avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil. These fats can help you feel satiated and support overall health.
- Low-Fat Dairy or Alternatives
Choose low-fat dairy products like Greek yogurt or other dairy alternatives like almond or soy milk. They provide calcium and protein with fewer calories.
Incorporate legumes like chickpeas, lentils, and black beans into your meals. They are rich in protein and fiber, making them a filling and nutritious addition to your diet.
Replace sugary beverages with green tea, which is rich in antioxidants and can boost metabolism.
Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day. Sometimes thirst can be mistaken for hunger, so staying hydrated may help control unnecessary snacking.
- Spices and Herbs
Experiment with spices and herbs to enhance the flavor of your meals without adding extra calories. Some spices, like cayenne pepper and turmeric, may have metabolism-boosting properties.
- Hydrating Foods
include foods with high water content, such as cucumbers, watermelon, strawberries, and soups. These foods can help you feel fuller while providing hydration.
Weight Loss Goals For Over 40
Research points to the role of behavior in a successful trip to lose weight. Experts say that your goal of losing weight will drive your trip and help you stay on track when things get hard. Also, small behavioral goals, like eating two to three more servings of greens daily, can help you reach your bigger weight loss goal4.
Not sure if you can set important goals that will lead to natural weight loss diets? Here’s a simple guide to get you started:
Get Enough Sleep
You need to get enough sleep to lose weight. Studies5 have shown that when you are tired and don’t get enough sleep, you are more likely to choose unhealthy foods. You’re also less likely to work out and stay busy when you’re tired. So, making small changes to sleep better at night would be best.
Start by making a routine that you do every night before bed. It could mean taking a short bath or shower to calm down. You might have to turn off your cell phone and put it somewhere else. Many smart dozers can also get rid of other electronics like a TV.
Try to wake up at the same time every day, even on the weekends. Avoid coffee drinks that are high in calories and instead try things like green tea that are better for your diet.
Drink More Water
Drinking more water is a good and easy way to help you lose weight with the least amount of work.
One study found that drinking 500 milliliters (16.9 ounces) of water increased the number of calories burned by 30% for 30–40 minutes. Studies have also shown that drinking water before a meal can help you lose weight and cut the number of calories you eat by about 13%6.
Use Smaller Plates
By switching to smaller plates, you can better control how much you eat, which can help you lose weight. Even though research is still limited and sometimes contradictory, one study showed that people who used smaller plates ate less and felt fuller than those who used normal-sized plates. A smaller plate can also keep you from overeating and help you keep track of calories7.
Making a conscious effort to chew more slowly can help you lose weight by making you eat less. One study found that chewing your food fifty times per bite, as opposed to fifteen times per piece, led to consuming fewer calories8.
Practice mindful eating by slowing down, savoring your food, and focusing on hunger and fullness cues. This can help prevent overeating and promote a healthier relationship with food.
Regular Meal Patterns
Establish regular meal times and avoid skipping meals. This helps regulate hunger, prevents excessive snacking, and stabilizes blood sugar levels.
Limit Processed Foods
Most refined foods have a lot of sugar, calories, and sodium but only a little fiber, protein, or vitamins.
Studies show that eating more processed foods is linked to gaining weight, especially in women. So, limit how much-refined food you eat, and choose whole foods instead, like veggies, fruits, healthy fats, whole grains, lean proteins, and legumes9.
Including an adequate amount of protein in your meals can help you feel fuller for longer and maintain muscle mass during weight loss. Good sources of protein include lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, legumes, and plant-based proteins like tofu and tempeh.
Incorporate Strength Training
Aging also means your muscle mass tends to decrease, which can slow down your metabolism. Including regular strength training exercises in your routine can help preserve muscle mass, increase metabolism, and promote weight loss. Aim for two to three sessions per week, focusing on all major muscle groups.
Chronic stress can contribute to weight gain and make weight loss more challenging. Find healthy ways to manage stress, such as practicing relaxation techniques, engaging in physical activity, or pursuing hobbies you enjoy. Consider incorporating mindfulness or meditation into your daily routine.
Engage in regular physical activity to support your weight loss efforts. Choose activities you enjoy, whether it’s walking, swimming, cycling, dancing, or any other form of exercise. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week, along with strength training exercises.
Consult A Healthcare Professional
Before starting any weight loss program, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian. They can assess your current health status, help you set realistic goals, and provide personalized advice based on your specific needs.
2 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2015 – 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 8th Edition. December 2015. Available at https://health.gov/our-work/food-nutrition/previous-dietary-guidelines/2015.
3 Chen K, Pittman RN, Popel AS. Nitric oxide in the vasculature: where does it come from and where does it go? A quantitative perspective. Antioxid Redox Signal. 2008 Jul;10(7):1185-98. doi: 10.1089/ars.2007.1959. PMID: 18331202; PMCID: PMC2932548.
4 Institute of Medicine (US) Subcommittee on Military Weight Management. Weight Management: State of the Science and Opportunities for Military Programs. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2004. 4, Weight-Loss and Maintenance Strategies. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK221839/
7 Peng M. How does plate size affect estimated satiation and intake for individuals in normal-weight and overweight groups? Obes Sci Pract. 2017 Jun 27;3(3):282-288. doi: 10.1002/osp4.119. PMID: 29071104; PMCID: PMC5598018.
8 Borvornparadorn M, Sapampai V, Champakerdsap C, Kurupakorn W, Sapwarobol S. Increased chewing reduces energy intake, but not postprandial glucose and insulin, in healthy weight and overweight young adults. Nutr Diet. 2019 Feb;76(1):89-94. doi: 10.1111/1747-0080.12433. Epub 2018 May 16. PMID: 29767425.
9 Poti JM, Braga B, Qin B. Ultra-processed Food Intake and Obesity: What Really Matters for Health-Processing or Nutrient Content? Curr Obes Rep. 2017 Dec;6(4):420-431. doi: 10.1007/s13679-017-0285-4. PMID: 29071481; PMCID: PMC5787353.