Why is it so hard for women over 40 to lose weight?
Women typically have more body fat and less muscle than men. As we age, around age 40-50, we all lose lean muscle mass which in turn slows down our metabolism. Many of us also tend to decrease our activity thus burning fewer calories. This leads to weight gain. The gain is gradual, creeping up on us like a tiger in the night. Once we notice the extra pounds, the desire and need to lose weight begins. You start or increase your exercise. But, suddenly you realize that you no longer have the strength, flexibility, or endurance you once had. Nor does simply cutting out a snack or eliminating soda make the scale move anymore. Why is weight loss so elusive?
According to OB/GYN Stacy Weiss, M.D., at age 50, you need 200 fewer calories a day than you did when you were 20. This is assuming you are equally active at 50 as you were at 20. And after age 60, you need 400-500 calories less. Women often find that their spouses make the same changes as them and lose weight. You then wonder, aren’t we both going through these changes of muscle loss and a slowing metabolism as we age? Yes, you are. But as men age, they don’t have the same hormonal changes that women undergo. If you’re a guy, you can thank the testosterone you have — and the extra estrogen you don’t — for your weight loss edge. Women often gain weight in their abdomen during menopause due to a loss of hormones and a slower metabolism. Some women even have a name for their new potbelly — meno-pot.
In one study out of England, men and women were each put on commercial weight-loss programs such as Atkins, Slim-Fast, and Weight Watchers. Two months in, the men had lost twice as much weight as the women — and three times as much body fat. But by six months, the rate of weight loss had evened out between the genders. “Over the long-term, the playing field is more equal,” says dietician David Grotto, RDN, self-proclaimed “guyatician” and author of The Best Things You Can Eat. “It’s not a race to see who can lose weight the fastest. The important thing is that you’re both going in the same direction.”
Always consult your physician before starting any weight loss or exercise program.
A study by the National Weight Control Registry found that the study participants who had lost at least 30 pounds and had maintained that loss for one year or longer, used diet and exercise to not only lose the weight but also to maintain the weight loss. The NWCR is currently tracking over 10,000 individuals who have lost significant amounts of weight and kept it off for long periods of time.
According to Katherine Tallmadge, RD, the author of Diet Simple one big difference between the sexes lies in food preferences, “Men love their meat, and women are attached to carbohydrates.” A study that explores gender differences in reasons for losing weight, weight loss methods, and weight loss behaviors prior to and during a weight loss maintenance trial found that men and women also exhibit different attitudes and behaviors surrounding weight and weight management. While both men (74.0%) and women (68.2%) reported wanting to improve their health as a major motivator for losing weight. Women were more likely to list losing weight to enhance their feelings of personal esteem more frequently than men. Women are also much more likely than men to use an organized weight loss program to lose weight.
Add a healthy breakfast, work toward losing no more than one or two pounds per week, and incorporate long-term lifestyle changes if you want to increase the chance of successful long-term weight loss. Keeping weight off requires as much effort and commitment as it took to lose the weight. You can do it on your own. Or, if you are struggling to lose weight you can join a weight loss program or seek the guidance of someone like Andrew Hanoun, a Metabolism & Weight Expert. There are as many programs and diets out as there are reasons to lose weight. Finding one that works for you can take several attempts. Don’t give up. Your health and future are depending on it!
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