Weight Loss for Women Over 40

Losing weight is hard for everyone. But losing weight after 40 can be a real struggle. When you consider weight loss for women over 40, you need to take into account the unique hormonal changes, lifestyle adjustments, and exercise considerations that you're likely to deal with when you hit that special age.

Whether you are in your forties or just approaching your fourth decade, weight loss is possible. But you need to plan ahead, exercise smarter, and eat a good diet full of key nutrients that will keep your body young and strong. Use this list of dos and don'ts for losing weight after 40, including diet tips, meal plans and fitness routines to get and keep the body you deserve.  


Do See Your Doctor

Smiling woman sitting in park before run
Thomas Barwick / Getty Images

When you hit the age of 40, you start to notice significant changes in the way your body looks and feels. Of course, some changes—like grey hair and wrinkles —are cosmetic changes that don't necessarily affect your medical health. But other changes, like an increase in weight or in the areas of your body where you hold weight, can have an impact on your longevity.

Healthy Motivation for Weight Loss Over 40

Weight loss may play a big role in your overall well-being and your ability to age well. When you go in for your annual check-up or before you start a diet, talk to your healthcare provider about how your weight impacts your risk for certain conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and cancer. Then find out if weight loss might decrease your risk or improve your health.

You may be able to decrease your risk of disease or even stop taking certain medications if you lose weight. And having that important information may help you to stay motivated when weight loss becomes challenging.


Don't (Completely) Blame Menopause

Are menopausal changes affecting your weight? Many women struggle with weight loss before, during, and sometimes even long after menopause. Weight gain at this time may be related to changes in your hormones. But this is also a time when many women make changes to their daily routines that may affect their weight.

For example, after the kids leave home some women are not as busy during the day with non-exercise physical activities like carrying groceries, lifting laundry baskets and other household chores. And many women begin to enjoy certain leisurely activities that can contribute to changes on the scale—like eating out more often, enjoying longer vacations, or spending more time relaxing and reading books.

Evaluate your lifestyle to make sure that a change in your daily habits isn’t affecting your weight. Consider getting an activity tracker to find out how many calories you burn each day and make sure that your energy balance isn't out of whack. You can even evaluate your caloric expenditure throughout the day and add activity during the times when you tend to be more sedentary. Simple changes can make a big difference in your metabolism.


Do Reboot Your Confidence

Has your age affected your self-confidence? Do you feel less satisfied with your body? Or do you still feel self-assured and sexy when you are around younger women? Believe it or not, your confidence level can play a role in your ability to lose weight.

Confidence and Weight Loss Over 40

Sex appeal and body confidence don't need to fade with age. Many women say that their 40s are the sexiest decade. Often, women experience renewed confidence, professional success and a more sultry sense of self during this decade. So why not use it to your advantage? If you're trying to reshape your body or lose weight in your 40s, a renewed sense of confidence and sex appeal will help you reach your goals.

Take time to keep a journal to acknowledge your experience, your accomplishments, and your talents. Think about how your life experience and the challenges you've overcome can help you to become stronger during your weight loss journey. Losing weight after 40 becomes a little bit easier when you remind yourself of the wisdom you've gained over the years.


Don't Ignore Goal Setting

The most important first-step to setting up a weight loss plan will require you to sit down with a pen and paper. Why? A well-designed weight loss plan starts with a goal.

Smart Goals for Over-40 Weight Loss

Your weight loss goal will steer your weight loss journey and help you to stay on track when the going gets rough. Short-term behavioral goals (such as eating 2-3 more servings of vegetables each day) can help you to reach your long-term weight loss goal.

Not sure how to set powerful goals that yield real weight loss results? Learn to set SMART goals. SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. They are used by business leaders and motivational coaches to help anyone become more successful.

If you want your weight loss plan to work, begin with a SMART goal session. It takes just 30 minutes or less to set up and it provides a roadmap for your entire weight loss journey.


Do Get Enough Sleep

It's very hard to slim down when you're not resting properly. Studies have shown that we are more likely to make poor food choices when we are tired. We are also less likely to exercise and stay active when we're exhausted. So it's important to make small changes to improve your sleep at night.

Start by setting up a nighttime ritual that you practice each night before bed. It might involve taking a short relaxing shower or bath. You may want to turn off your cell phone and store it out away from your bedroom. Many smart sleepers also remove other electronic devices (like a television) from the bedroom.

Try to wake at the same time each morning even on the weekends and steer clear of high-calorie coffee drinks and use diet-friendly methods to boost your energy instead, like water or herbal tea.


Don't Rely on Cardio Alone

In your 20s and 30s, you may have been able to lose weight with a walking program or simply by staying more active during the day. Or you might have slimmed down with aerobics classes or other cardio activities. But if you're serious about losing weight after 40, you'll add strength training and flexibility to your workout schedule.

Exercise for Weight Loss Over 40

You need three types of exercise to slim down, tone up and stay healthy. Make sure you incorporate cardiovascular exercise, strength training and stretching into your weekly program. Each type of exercise provides unique weight loss benefits.

  • Cardiovascular activity (also called aerobic activity) helps you to maintain heart health and burn more calories during each session.
  • Strength training helps you to burn more calories all day long. Muscles require more energy to maintain so your metabolism will benefit when you build them. Muscles also help to shape a tighter physique.
  • Flexibility training helps you to maintain healthy joints and can help you to decrease stress.

You can spend just 15-30 minutes each day on stretching, cardio, and strength training to see real changes in the way your body looks and feels.


Do Change Your Diet

Smart goals, better sleep, communication with your healthcare provider, and a comprehensive exercise plan will all help you to slim down in your 40s, but what you eat will have the biggest overall effect. That doesn't mean you can't eat the foods you love. But you may need to make some changes.

The Best Diet for Women Over 40

Your 40s are not the time to try fad diets for quick weight loss. You're smarter than that. You need a clear plan for long-term health, well-being, weight loss, and weight maintenance.

There is no single diet plan that works for everyone. But a diet plan for your 40s should be one that you can use to reach your weight loss goals and then modify and stick to for life. While there is no "best" diet for everyone, there may be a "best diet for you."

Evaluate your current eating style, think about your past diet history and choose a diet that fits your needsEvaluate commercial diet plans or create your own eating plan at home.

In many cases, the best diet is simply paying attention to portion control, boosting your intake of fiber-rich foods, eating more protein, and switching to modest servings of healthy fats. You can also use a calorie calculator to determine your needs, then count calories to stay within your range.

While these methods aren't trendy, they are the best methods for weight loss over 40 (and at any age) as determined by health experts and scientific studies.

Was this page helpful?

Article Sources

  1. Williams LT, Hollis JL, Collins CE, Morgan PJ. The 40-Something randomized controlled trial to prevent weight gain in mid-age women. BMC Public Health. 2013;13:1007. doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-1007

  2. Montesi L, El ghoch M, Brodosi L, Calugi S, Marchesini G, Dalle grave R. Long-term weight loss maintenance for obesity: a multidisciplinary approach. Diabetes Metab Syndr Obes. 2016;9:37-46. doi:10.2147/DMSO.S89836

  3. Nelis SM, Thom JM, Jones IR, Hindle JV, Clare L. Goal-setting to Promote a Healthier Lifestyle in Later Life: Qualitative Evaluation of the AgeWell Trial. Clin Gerontol. 2018;41(4):335-345. doi:10.1080/07317115.2017.1416509

  4. Greer SM, Goldstein AN, Walker MP. The impact of sleep deprivation on food desire in the human brain. Nat Commun. 2013;4:2259. doi:10.1038/ncomms3259

  5. Villareal DT, Aguirre L, Gurney AB, et al. Aerobic or Resistance Exercise, or Both, in Dieting Obese Older Adults. N Engl J Med. 2017;376(20):1943-1955. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa1616338

  6. Seagle HM, Strain GW, Makris A, Reeves RS. Position of the American Dietetic Association: weight management. J Am Diet Assoc. 2009;109(2):330-46.