Weight Loss After 40 Most of us want to shed a few pounds after a holiday full of rich foods and overindulgence, but never is it harder to achieve weight loss goals than after age forty.
Nearly everyone faces a disconcerting body thickening and slow rise in weight in their 40s, even people who have always been slim, who eat a healthy diet, and who exercise regularly. In fact, body fat typically doubles between the ages of 20 and 50. Sometimes diet and exercise really isn’t enough!
What’s happening to our bodies?
For women, a major calorie-burning process grinds to a halt after menopause. The metabolic rise in the last two weeks of the menstrual cycle accounts for 15,000–20,000 calories per year. Those calories really start to add up when the menstrual cycle stops. Further, women tend to develop more abdominal fat as estrogen levels are reduced. For men, lower testosterone levels caused by andropause leads to a decrease in muscle mass and an increase in fat storage. Research shows that with age, men burn less fat during exercise, so older men actually need to work out longer to lose weight!
Thermogenesis’ Role in Weight Loss Over 40
Thermogenesis is all about fat burning. About 75% of the calories you eat work to keep you alive and support your resting metabolic rate. The balance of calories are stored as white fat, or burned up by brown adipose tissue (brown fat), your body’s premier fat burning factory. The more active your brown fat is, the more efficient your thermogenesis is, and the easier it is to maintain an optimum weight. Differences in brown fat activity explain why some people can overeat and stay slim, while others put on the pounds even though their diet and exercise plan is sound.
Starting in our early 40s, a genetic timer begins to slow down the thermogenic mechanism. Instead of calories being burned off, more of them get stored as white fat, leading to weight gain, especially around the middle. In addition, some people are simply not born with enough brown fat. These people gain more weight at middle age because the little brown fat they do have is reduced even further. However, you can reactivate your brown fat activity after 40, and using thermogenic herbs is a key.
Fat Burning Herbs
Green tea, mustard seed, cinnamon and ginger are thermogenic herbs that you can use without side effects or health risks. I only formulate with whole herbs, because they are much less likely to produce side effects or interactions than standardized herbs or highly concentrated herbs. Further, whole herbs in combination offer the advantage of addressing multiple body systems and needs. For “after 40” weight loss concerns, I combine thermogenic herbs with herbs that control appetite and sugar cravings, and herbs that relieve bloating. Whole herbs really do support the whole person.
Losing weight at mid life does present new challenges, but I’ve found that once the body adjusts to its new hormone levels, weight gain stabilizes, and becomes more manageable. Whole herbs can help you get over an “after 40” weight loss plateau, and have the added benefits of improving body chemistry and reestablishing better metabolic rates.
Your Holistic Lifestyle
The Importance of Exercise for Weight Control
For those trying to lose weight, basic guidelines dictate eating less and moving more. In an attempt to shed pounds quickly, many overweight individuals will turn to weight loss fads and gimmicks.
Ultimately, healthy weight loss requires several important elements, starting with an appointment with a physician. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends a weight loss goal of 1-2 pounds per weeks as a safe and reasonable way to lose weight, making it easier to keep it off in the long term. NIH guidelines show that slow and steady weight loss also allows time to make new healthy lifestyle changes, such as eating a healthy diet and increasing physical activity.
For a healthy weight loss of 1-2 pounds per week, daily caloric intake must be reduced by 500 to 1,000 calories. Weight loss strategies are not one-size-fits-all, but there are common elements that can work for most people. The Harvard School of Public Health cites the findings of the National Weight Control Registry, which show that members who lose more than 30 pounds and keep the weight off for at least a year had similar strategies: they exercise, burning an average of 400 calories a day; they consume fewer calories, based on their weight, height and activity level and; they watched less television, limited fast food intake, cut back on sugars and sweets, and ate more fruits and vegetables.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that obesity is common, serious and costly. CDC data for 2011 shows that no state in the U.S. had obesity rates under 20%. For overweight individuals, losing just 10 percent of current body weight can have a positive impact on their health. According to the NIH document, Aim for a Healthy Weight, losing this initial weight helps to lower risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and certain types of cancer. For those who are patient and lose weight at the recommended rate, the health benefits can be very rewarding!
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Healthy Weight – it’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle!
National Institutes of Health: National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, Aim for a Healthy Weight
Harvard School of Public Health: The Nutrition Source, Exercise and Weight Control
This Month's Recipes
Dieter’s Mid-day Meal Replacement Drink
This drink is good-tasting and satisfying. It is full of foods that help raise metabolism, cleanse and flush out wastes, balance body pH, and stimulate enzyme production.
6 tbsp. rice protein powder
4 tbsp. oat bran
2 tbsp. bee pollen granules
2 tbsp. flax seed
2 tsp. fructose
1 tsp. acidophilus powder
½ tsp. lemon peel powder
½ tsp. ginger powder
2 tsp. spirulina powder (or green superfood blend of your choice)
In a blender, combine all ingredients. Take 1 tablespoon in 8 oz. juice or water. Makes enough for 10 drinks. Drink slowly.
Fruit Juice Bars
1 cup chopped dates
½ cup apple juice
½ cup orange juice
3 tbsp. grated orange zest
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups rolled oats
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 tbsp. cinnamon
1½ cups pear juice
grapeseed oil spray
Preheat oven to 350°F. In the blender, mix dates, apple juice, orange juice, orange zest and vanilla to a purée consistency; set aside. To make the dough: in a blender, grind 2 cups rolled oats to a coarse meal. Stir oats in a bowl with the pastry flour and cinnamon. Stir in the pear juice. Press the dough into a grapeseed oil-sprayed 8" square pan. Spread date purée on top. Bake for 35 – 45 minutes until crust is firm. Cool completely and cut in squares. Makes 16 bars. (From Linda Page's Diets for Healthy Healing)
Take a seaweed bath once a week to help stimulate lymph drainage, reduce cellulite, rid your body of toxins, balance body chemistry, reduce tension and beautify skin texture! For best results, dry brush your skin before the bath.
Ingredients: Horsetail Kelp, Bladderwrack, Atlantic Kombu, Dulse, Sea Palm, Alaria, Laver.