Despite countless internet articles and many weight-loss marketing tactics, maintaining a rockin’ bod past age 40 isn’t out of reach. Subtle changes do in fact occur during this age milestone. However, if you possess the right tools, you can address each change before they become problematic.
What changes can I expect?
These changes affect your hormones and can shift your body composition (so any pounds you do gain tend to land in your middle). Some of the more common concerns in our 40s are slower metabolism, loss of bone density, muscle loss and joint issues. But there’s a secret weapon to combat these changes! Research shows that a combination of regular exercise and eating healthy foods will help build muscle mass, bone strength and increase metabolism. Following are my diet and fitness tips for turning 40 years old and beyond:
1. Strength training
By the time you turn 40, your body has an average of 6-7 pounds less muscle than 10 years prior and one percent of bone density since your mid-30s. Maintaining (and even adding) fat-burning muscle is vital to keep your metabolism working and your weight in a healthy range for you.
Lifting weights can also help fight off more serious health issues like diabetes, arthritis and heart disease.
- Aim to strength train at least four days a week, hitting each major muscle group (chest, back, biceps, triceps, shoulders, legs and abdominals).
- Alternate upper-body exercises with lower body to ensure a recovery period between workouts.
- To maintain muscle mass, complete 2 to 4 sets of 10 to 15 repetitions of each exercise.
- Choose a weight that’s comfortable on your joints to maintain proper form.
- Remember that you can modify any exercise to prevent injury.
Maintaining flexible muscles should be another important part of your fitness routine. The best way to stretch is in between sets when you’re exercising—this is when the body is warmed up and more flexible. Hold each stretch for 20 to 30 seconds.
Stretching tip: Add a yoga class (or some sort of routine stretching) to your fitness regimen once or twice a week.
Opt for weight-bearing cardiovascular exercises like walking, jogging, stair climbing or dancing, over non-weight-bearing activities like swimming or biking. Moderate- or high-intensity activities help to build and strengthen bones along with burning extra fat. Shoot for 30 minutes five times per week.
4. Dietary changes
We often find that food we ate in our 20s and 30s don’t agree with our bodies like they used to. The weight gain, mood swings, low energy and fatigue we experience at age 40 (thanks, hormones!) may be a sign of an unbalanced diet.
When your blood sugar lowers, your brain looks for any source of energy (usually sugar). Once sugar is received, your blood sugar level peaks only to drop again. Being on this roller coaster of low and high blood sugar is caused by the hormones reacting to the food.
- Eat a balanced diet made up of 40 percent carbohydrates, 30 percent healthy fats and 30 percent protein.
- Don’t skimp on protein. If your body does not get enough protein from the foods you eat, the ability for it to make new proteins slows down and can even break down muscle tissue to get the supply it needs (not the best news for muscle tissue maintenance).
- Keep away from fast foods, fad diets, low carb or low fat diets.
- It’s also recommended that women increase calcium intake to 1,000 milligrams per day and 400 to 800 IU of vitamin D every day from foods such as low fat milk, Greek yogurt, tuna or salmon, along with supplements if needed.