14 Ways to Shed Pounds After 40

Age Matters

If you’re over 40, you may have noticed that it’s easier to gain weight -- and harder to lose it -- than it used to be. Changes in your activity level, eating habits, and hormones, and how your body stores fat all can play roles. But a few simple steps may help you slim down.

        

Age Matters

If you’re over 40, you may have noticed that it’s easier to gain weight -- and harder to lose it -- than it used to be. Changes in your activity level, eating habits, and hormones, and how your body stores fat all can play roles. But a few simple steps may help you slim down.

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Eat Your Fruits and Veggies

Fill half your plate with them at every meal. Produce tends to have more nutrients and less fat and calories than meat, dairy products, or grains. And it may help you feel satisfied, even if you eat less. Fresh fruits, like apples and berries, are also great in place of high-fat or high-sugar snacks.

        

Eat Your Fruits and Veggies

Fill half your plate with them at every meal. Produce tends to have more nutrients and less fat and calories than meat, dairy products, or grains. And it may help you feel satisfied, even if you eat less. Fresh fruits, like apples and berries, are also great in place of high-fat or high-sugar snacks.

Don’t Skip Breakfast

Experts recommend a healthy morning meal like oatmeal or whole wheat toast with fruit. It can help curb that mid-morning hunger that leads you to grab something unhealthy on-the-go or overeat at lunch. Small meals or snacks every few hours can keep your appetite in check all day long.

        

Don’t Skip Breakfast

Experts recommend a healthy morning meal like oatmeal or whole wheat toast with fruit. It can help curb that mid-morning hunger that leads you to grab something unhealthy on-the-go or overeat at lunch. Small meals or snacks every few hours can keep your appetite in check all day long.

Eat Less at Night

If you get most of your daily calories at lunch (before 3 p.m.), you might lose more weight than if you have a big meal later. But the most important thing is still what you eat, not when.

Cook Healthy Meals

A lot of extra fat and calories can come from the way you prepare food. Instead of frying food or cooking it in butter or lots of oil, try grilling, baking, or broiling. This is good advice at restaurants, too: Skip foods that are fried or that come in creamy sauces. 

Don’t Make a Second Trip

You tend to be less active as you get older, and you may need a few hundred calories less than you used to. To lose weight, you may need to cut your calories back even more. Smaller portions and tracking your calories with a food diary or an app can help you eat less.

Pay Attention

When you’re busy with work, kids, and life, you can be tempted to grab food on-the-go or multitask through a meal. But you’re more likely to overeat -- and be hungry again soon after -- if you don’t focus on your food. Sit down for meals and tune in to what’s on your plate (not what’s on your TV or computer screen). That helps your brain realize when you’ve had enough.

Lay Off the Soda

If you drink sugar-sweetened coffee, tea, soft drinks, or energy drinks, switch to water or another zero-calorie beverage. Your sweet drinks have lots of added sugar, which can make you gain weight and raise your risk for diabetes.

Cut Back on Alcohol

Beer bellies aren’t always caused by booze. But a “spare tire” is common in middle age, and alcohol can have something to do with it. A glass of beer or wine is about 150 calories, and that can add up if you drink often. Plus, alcohol can make you hungry, so you may eat more while you drink.

Make Time for Exercise

Between desk jobs, commutes, and family activities, many 40-somethings don’t have a lot of free time to work out. But it’s important -- for your weight and your overall health -- to fit in at least 2 1/2 hours of moderate physical activity (like brisk walking or light yard work) every week. Pencil times in to your calendar, and make them a priority.

Build Muscle

People naturally lose muscle after 40, especially women after menopause. Because muscle burns more calories than fat, this can slow down your metabolism and make it harder to shake those stubborn pounds. Strength-training exercises -- lifting weights or doing body-weight exercises, like push-ups and squats -- at least twice a week can help you keep those muscles.

Relax, Don’t Stress

Stress can make you more likely to binge on unhealthy food, and it makes it harder for your body to break down fat. Try yoga, deep breathing, meditation, going for a walk, or reading a good book. Stress relief is different for everyone, so find what works for you.

Get Good Sleep

All kinds of things can mess with your sleep after age 40 -- health problems, stress, medications, and, for women, menopause. But people who don’t get good-quality sleep are more likely to gain weight. If you skimp on sleep because you’re busy or stressed, try to change your habits and settle into a regular routine.

Have Your Thyroid Checked

If you eat healthy and exercise regularly and still can’t lose weight, your thyroid might not be working like it should. This happens in about 5% of people, and it's most common in women and people over 60. In addition to weight gain, it can also cause fatigue, joint or muscle pain, and depression. Medications can help, so get it checked if you think it might be an issue.

Get Support

For many people, it’s easier to lose weight with others than to do it alone. You might enter a weight-loss contest at work, join a group on social media, or ask a friend to go for early-morning walks or classes at the gym. Other people who share your goals can help keep you accountable and cheer you on as you make progress.

 

 

 

 

How Alcohol Affects Your Body

Straight to Your Head

Thirty seconds after your first sip, alcohol races into your brain. It slows down the chemicals and pathways that your brain cells use to send messages. That alters your mood, slows your reflexes, and throws off your balance. You also can’t think straight, which you may not recall later, because you’ll struggle to store things in long-term memory.

Your Brain Shrinks

If you drink heavily for a long time, booze can affect how your brain looks and works. Its cells start to change and even get smaller. Too much alcohol can actually shrink your brain. And that’ll have big effects on your ability to think, learn, and remember things. It can also make it harder to keep a steady body temperature and control your movements. 

Does It Help You Sleep?

Alcohol’s slow-down effect on your brain can make you drowsy, so you may doze off more easily. But you won’t sleep well. Your body processes alcohol throughout the night. Once the effects wear off, it leaves you tossing and turning. You don’t get that good REM sleep your body needs to feel restored. And you’re more likely to have nightmares and vivid dreams. You’ll also probably wake up more often for trips to the bathroom.

More Stomach Acid

Booze irritates the lining of your stomach and makes your digestive juices flow. When enough acid and alcohol build up, you get nauseated and you may throw up. Years of heavy drinking can cause painful sores called ulcers in your stomach. And high levels of stomach juices mean you won’t feel hungry. That’s one reason long-term drinkers often don’t get all the nutrients they need.

Diarrhea and Heartburn

Your small intestine and colon get irritated, too. Alcohol throws off the normal speed that food moves through them. That’s why hard drinking can lead to diarrhea, which can turn into a long-term problem. It also makes heartburn more likely – it relaxes the muscle that keeps acid out of your esophagus, the tube that connects your mouth and stomach.

Why You Have to Pee … Again

Your brain gives off a hormone that keeps your kidneys from making too much urine. But when alcohol swings into action, it tells your brain to hold off. That means you have to go more often, which can leave you dehydrated. When you drink heavily for years, that extra workload and the toxic effects of alcohol can wear your kidneys down.

The Steps to Liver Disease

Your liver breaks down almost all the alcohol you drink. In the process, it handles a lot of toxins. Over time, heavy drinking makes the organ fatty and lets thicker, fibrous tissue build up. That limits blood flow, so liver cells don’t get what they need to survive. As they die off, the liver gets scars and stops working as well, a disease called cirrhosis.

Pancreas Damage and Diabetes

Normally, this organ makes insulin and other chemicals that help your intestines break down food. But alcohol jams that process up. The chemicals stay inside the pancreas. Along with toxins from alcohol, they cause inflammation in the organ, which can lead to serious damage. After years, that means you won’t be able to make the insulin you need, which can lead to diabetes. It also makes you more likely to get pancreatic cancer.

What’s a Hangover?

That cotton-mouthed, bleary-eyed morning-after is no accident. Alcohol makes you dehydrated and makes blood vessels in your body and brain expand. That gives you your headache. Your stomach wants to get rid of the toxins and acid that booze churns up, which gives you nausea and vomiting. And because your liver was so busy processing alcohol, it didn’t release enough sugar into your blood, bringing on weakness and the shakes.

An Offbeat Heart

One night of binge drinking can jumble the electrical signals that keep your heart’s rhythm steady. If you do it for years, you can make those changes permanent. And, alcohol can literally wear your heart out. Over time, it causes heart muscles to droop and stretch, like an old rubber band. It can’t pump blood as well, and that impacts every part of your body.

A Change in Body Temperature

Alcohol widens your blood vessels, making more blood flow to your skin. That makes you blush and feel warm and toasty. But not for long. The heat from that extra blood passes right out of your body, causing your temperature to drop. On the other hand, long-term, heavy drinking boosts your blood pressure. It makes your body release stress hormones that narrow blood vessels, so your heart has to pump harder to push blood through.

A Weaker Immune System

You might not link a cold with a night of drinking, but there might be a connection. Alcohol puts the brakes on your immune system. Your body can’t make the numbers of white blood cells it needs to fight germs. So for 24 hours after drinking, you’re more likely to get sick. Long-term, heavy drinkers are much more likely to get illnesses like pneumonia and tuberculosis.

Hormone Havoc

These powerful chemicals manage everything from your sex drive to how fast you digest food. To keep it all going smoothly, you need them in the right balance. But alcohol throws them out of whack. In women, that can knock your periods off cycle and cause problems getting pregnant. In men, it can mean trouble getting an erection, a lower sperm count, shrinking testicles, and breast growth.

Hearing Loss

Alcohol impacts your hearing, but no one’s sure exactly how. It could be that it messes with the part of your brain that processes sound. Or it might damage the nerves and tiny hairs in your inner ear that help you hear. However it happens, drinking means you need a sound to be louder so you can hear it. And that can become permanent. Long-term drinkers often have hearing loss.

Thin Bones, Less Muscle

Heavy drinking can throw off your calcium levels. Along with the hormone changes that alcohol triggers, that can keep your body from building new bone. They get thinner and more fragile, a condition called osteoporosis. Booze also limits blood flow to your muscles and gets in the way of the proteins that build them up. Over time, you’ll have lower muscle mass and less strength.