Weight Loss for Men Over 40

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Evidence show that men are often more successful at weight loss than women. But men can still face challenges when they try to lose weight, especially if they are over 40. Hormonal changes that can occur later in life may work against you if you are trying to reach and maintain a healthy weight, and some hormone conditions are unique to men.

Rather than adopting a restrictive diet or excessive exercise program, your best bet may be to take a moderate approach to improving overall health. A comprehensive approach to wellness is likely to provide greater satisfaction and rewards to keep you motivated and invested in your plan. Research insights and expert advice can help you put together the best plan for you.

Hormonal Changes in Men Over 40

Men have certain hormonal changes that occur as they age. These changes may affect your overall body composition and your ability to reach or maintain a healthy weight.

Testosterone

Testosterone is commonly called the male sex hormone. In men, it is made in the testicles. Women also make testosterone, but to a lesser extent.

In clinical settings, testosterone is referred to as an anabolic-androgenic steroid. The word "anabolic" refers to its muscle building properties, and the word "androgenic" refers to its role in increasing male sex characteristics.

Testosterone levels decrease with age. In men, some researchers refer to the decline as male menopause or andropause.

Men with lower levels of testosterone are more likely to have decreased bone mineral density, decreased lean body mass, and a greater likelihood of both metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease.

The cause and effect relationship between low testosterone and weight gain is complicated. Researchers note that middle aged and older men with obesity are likely to have lower levels of sex hormones, particularly testosterone. But it is not clear that obesity is caused by low testosterone. In fact, some evidence shows that obesity leads to lower testosterone levels, even if the obesity is classified as moderate.

And increased weight can not only lead to lower testosterone, but also to a self-perpetuating cycle of metabolic problems in men. While the condition is not necessarily permanent, researchers advise that weight loss is necessary to reverse the changes. The good news, however is that lifestyle changes may be able to increase testosterone levels and improve weight loss in men.

Estrogen

Estrogen is commonly referred to as a female sex hormone, but men make the hormone naturally as well. In men, estrogen helps to modulate libido and make sperm. It also plays a role in erectile function. Research suggests that estrogen plays a key role in metabolic function in men.

Evidence suggests that low levels of estradiol, the predominant form of estrogen, may be a stronger predictor of gaining fat than low levels of testosterone.

And researchers think that even short-term estradiol deprivation may contribute to increased body fat. In both men and women, serum levels of estrogen decline with age.

In women, there are certain lifestyle factors (such as dietary interventions and exercise) that can help them to maintain healthy estrogen levels. But research regarding estrogen maintenance in men is lacking.

Hunger Hormones

Leptin is a hunger hormone associated with satiety or food satisfaction. It helps you to feel full and satisfied after eating so your body doesn't trigger a hunger response when it does not need energy. Leptin is directly connected to body fat and obesity.

Some evidence suggests that aging is associated with hyperleptinemia and leptin resistance. Hyperleptinemia is a condition where the body makes too much leptin which can cause it to become resistant to the hormone. When the body is resistant to leptin, it may not get the satiety signals that it needs to regulate hunger and food intake.

The good news is that lifestyle interventions may help to restore leptin levels. A research review conducted in 2017 showed that exercise training can help to bring leptin levels back in line in middle aged and obese patients. Resistance training was more effective than aerobic training for restoring leptin.

7 Weight Loss Tips for Men Over 40

The general guidelines for achieving or maintaining a healthy body and a healthy weight don’t necessarily change as you get older. Well respected health organizations like the USDA and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recommend a nutritious balanced diet and both aerobic and resistance exercise on a regular basis.

But there are some other considerations that you may want to take into account if you're over 40 and you've set a goal to lose weight. Use these tips to lose or maintain your weight as you age.

Connect With Your Doctor

Excess body fat in your midsection may put you at risk for certain health conditions, including heart disease and high blood pressure. Get regular check-ups and ask your doctor key questions about the way that your weight affects your health. Maintaining a waist to hip ratio that falls within certain guidelines may improve your chances of living a longer, more active life.

Of course there is no way to reduce excess fat in one particular area of your body. But a comprehensive program that includes dietary changes and physical activity can help you to bring your total body fat into a range that is better for your overall health.

Build Muscle

Resistance training has been shown to help in the weight loss process. Studies have shown that a weight training program can help you to maintain lean muscle and when combined with dietary changes, can also enhance fat loss.

Fitness expert and best-selling author Tom Venuto agrees. "Resistance training for life is a crucial part of the solution,” says Venuto about maintaining a healthy weight as we age. He says that some people find it easy to lose weight as they get older, but maintaining muscle mass is really the key to keeping your body lean and healthy.

Guidelines provided by the HHS suggest that you should participate in moderate to vigorous intensity muscle-strengthening exercises that involve all major muscle groups at least two days per week. There's no need to join a gym or buy pricey equipment if you don't want to. Do basic bodyweight exercises at home to build muscle and improve strength.

You can also address dietary factors to maintain and build muscle effectively. One way to maintain muscle mass while losing weight is to make sure that you consume enough protein. The USDA recommends that 10% to 30% of your total calories come from protein. If you are an active individual, it may be beneficial to shoot for the higher end of that range.

Incorporate Functional Training

Functional training is a specific type of resistance training that mimics typical daily movements. It includes exercises that help your body function more efficiently.

For instance, a triceps extension can help to improve strength and muscle mass in your upper arm. But you don't do that movement typically in your day-to-day life. However, movements like a push-up do mimic common daily tasks, (such as pushing a heavy door shut or moving a piece of furniture).

Functional training improves our ability to carry out activities of daily living, which can help us burn calories through non-exercise activity thermogenesis and stay lean. Functional training also assists with independent living as we age.

Get Enough Cardio

Building muscle is important, but don’t forget to do cardio to get your heart pumping. In fact, some studies have compared aerobic exercise to resistance training for weight loss and have found that aerobic training is more effective for losing fat. However, resistance training helps you maintain muscle mass for weight maintenance.

The Physical Guidelines for Americans suggest that you get at least 150–300 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity. You can also meet the activity guidelines by participating in 75–150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity. Or you can combine vigorous and moderate aerobic activity to meet the goal.

The guidelines also say that additional health benefits are gained by engaging in physical activity beyond 300 minutes per week of moderate-intensity physical activity.

Focus on Factors Other Than Weight

You don't have to throw away your bathroom scale, but Venuto suggests that you worry less about weight and focus more on other factors such as body composition. Learn how to check your body fat percent. Then try to maintain more fat-free mass (lean muscle) to stay active and maintain a healthy metabolism.

You can also focus on other factors than just weight loss and fat loss. As you make changes to your lifestyle, see how it affects your daily energy levels, your mood, and your general outlook on life. Studies suggest that an exercise program can help you to live better while you age. It can help you to sleep better, reduce levels of stress and anxiety, and have more energy to do the things you want to do.

Maintain Healthy Habits

As we age, it can get easier to let go of the routines that keep us healthy. For example, sleep habits may change. Poor sleep may affect your food choices during the day. Studies have suggested that there is an inverse relationship between sleep and body weight.

Several research studies have shown that we eat more when we get less sleep and the increased food intake is not driven by hunger but rather by just a desire to feel better.

Alcohol intake is another area that may deserve some consideration. If you are drinking more, you may gain weight as a result. While carboydrates and protein only contain 4 calories per gram (and provide important vitamins and minerals), alcohol provides 7 calories per gram and provides no nutrients (other than calories).

Stay Positive

Pete Thomas lost enough weight to win a Biggest Loser challenge. He says that you need to learn how to believe in yourself to slim down successfully.

"If any man or women believes it will be really hard or impossible to lose weight then that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and even getting started with healthier habits becomes a chore." He says the worst possible thing to do is to not even attempt to change.

His advice aligns with research-backed evidence. Scientists study the relationship between weight loss and self-efficacy. Self-efficacy is the belief in your ability to carry out a task or reach a specific goal.

Studies have shown that an increase in eating self-efficacy after 6 months was associated with greater weight loss at 16 months. Study authors found that the weight change was due, in part, to a change in fruit and vegetable intake.

A Word From Verywell

Weight loss for men over 40 is possible and can provide health and lifestyle benefits if you are currently carrying extra pounds. Start by setting reasonable goals. Make changes to your eating habits that will be sustainable in the long-term. Working with a registered dietitian can help you to come up with a meal plan that is satisfying.

Then gradually make changes to your activity plan and lifestyle (such as getting enough sleep) so that you feel strong and healthy through your weight loss journey and beyond.

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