How to lose weight and shed excess body fat after age 45 and beyond.
Losing weight is always a challenge, and it gets progressively more difficult as we get older. For people 45 years old and above, shedding excess body fat comes with challenges that younger people trying to lose weight don’t have to face.
One of the primary reasons that losing weight after the age of 45 is more difficult is that the body’s metabolic rate (the amount of energy that the body burns over a given period of time) starts to slow down due to muscle loss and other factors. The basic rule for you to remember is that the more long, lean muscle mass that you have increases your metabolic rate, and conversely, the less lean muscle mass that you have decreases your metabolic rate. Muscle burns 3-5x more energy at rest than fat does, so you can see the advantages of keeping lean and strong. For women, hormonal changes around menopause can also make losing weight more difficult.
45 can be an extremely busy time of life with families, work and aging parents, not to mention friends and social commitments. With so much going on, it’s easy for life to get in the way, which means that things like self-care, weight management, diet and exercise have to be maintained as disciplined priorities.
In many ways 45 is a fork in the road, and to be blunt, it tends to go one of two ways. You either get your shit together and prioritize yourself, or you allow life to take you by the collar. It’s easy to let exercise slide, and to give up to fleeting mindless indulgences while our hopes and dreams slip away. Recovery and self-care begin with mindfulness, and the absolute truth that it’s never too late to course correct and get in the best shape of your life. Many women that we have helped over the last 14 years here at BodyRock first started to prioritize their health and fitness in their mid 40’s and into their 50’s and 60’s with incredible results, and you can too.
Here are some age specific tips and strategies, and finally a prescription for steps that you can take to get back on the track if you are struggling to find your way forward.
Start to strength train. Strength training is not what it used to be, and it no longer involves having to go to a weight room or even a gym. Strength training today means things like body weight exercises, resistance bands, and a set of weights like dumbbells or a bar & weights set scaled down for home use. Strength training will help you build long, lean, athletic muscle tone which is one of the most powerful ways to reverse the metabolic drop. Strength training also ushers in feelings of renewed vitality and overall confidence that many women find incredibly empowering. If you are looking for a place to discover what strength training has to offer, we have a number of excellent workouts like our Intro to Strength series, our Kick Start series or our fan favorite, The Beginner Bootcamp. These programs are designed to get you up and moving again after years or even decades of not exercising, meaning that they will challenge you but they are achievable. We are big on achievability here, and meeting people at the level that they are starting at. There is absolutely no shame in being a beginner, at BodyRock, we wear it as a badge of courage and honour. For a limited time, we are giving a full year membership to our fitness streaming platform BodyRockPlus for those just starting out their fitness journeys for just $69 with the code: NY22.
Drink more water. Water is great for everything, and it comes in zero calorie bottled or canned options that are naturally flavoured with lemon, lime, orange and other popular flavours. If you are still drinking regular Soda’s, or god forbid ‘energy drinks’ it’s time to break that habit (more on added sugars below). At 45+ if your main source of hydration is still not water, it’s time to make that shift. Water is great for everything, from your skin to digestion and regularity.
Get into HIIT. High intensity interval training will help you keep your metabolism firing on all cylinders and has been proven to be highly efficient at helping people lose weight and tone up. HIIT is so powerful that we’ve baked it into all of our workouts, making strength training fusion HIIT workouts that bring the benefits of both together into one routine. Our Intro to Strength series, and Beginner Bootcamp will introduce you to this style of training, so that you are building up your cardio and adding fat burning lean muscle tone at the same time. The added benefit of this powerhouse combination is that workouts that follow this method deliver results in much less time. 20-30 minutes are all that is required.
Avoid added sugars. At this stage in the game, you have to start getting really mindful about avoiding added sugars. This article goes into more detail about what we refer to as the ‘added sugar fat trap’ and it's worth a quick read so that you fully understand what you are up against. I will drop a teaser here - the average American eats 57 pounds of added sugar per year. I make the point in the article that most people could not comfortably lift that amount of sugar and walk 10 steps with it. Added sugar is often hard to spot, and unless you have the support of a meal plan, you are going to have to become an expert on reading food product labels, and becoming familiar with all of the chemical names for sugar that the corporate food industry cleverly uses. Added sugars power over eating in ways that I feel border on criminal, and most people who don’t have the guidance of a balanced meal plan fall into this sugar trap daily. This can erase the benefits of exercise in a flash second, because as the saying goes, you can’t out train a bad diet - especially as we age.
Avoid all sugary drinks. I broke this out of the above section on added sugars simply because a surprising number of people turn a blind eye to liquid sugar, and the calories in beverages in general. Think of that favorite Starbucks coffee with the 5 shots of caramel, or that can of regular soda at lunch, or gasp, that goblet of red wine. When sugar is in liquid form, it gets absorbed incredibly quickly causing our insulin to spike in an attempt to regulate our blood sugar levels. When this happens, our bodies take on those calories and typically store them as fat. Visceral fat, or the fat that hides out deep inside our stomachs and snakes around our internal organs can be a major health risk, and cutting out sugary drinks is one of the ways to begin to reduce it. You can read a quick article on the dangers of visceral fat here.
Up the protein and fiber. It’s time to start supporting your new strength training and HIIT workouts with enough protein to help add those long lean muscles. Look for lean sources of protein like turkey, chicken and fish, or seek out plant based sources of protein (check out our plant based, vegan meal plan here). Protein is critical for weight loss and muscle development - get on a meal plan that will do all the heavy lifting for you when it comes to balancing your diet. Unless you have a lot of free time to research and do all the necessary calculations, an easy to follow meal plan will get you started without delay or confusing hassle. Our trainers follow our meal plans because, like you, they are just too busy to consistently figure things out on their own, and they rely on the support and organization that our plans provide. When trainers who do this for a living need a plan to stay on track, it’s an excellent sign that maybe we can benefit from the structure and support they provide as well.
Fiber helps to not just keep us regular, but is key in helping us feel full for longer periods of time so that we don’t overeat. Protein does a lot of the same thing, so make sure that you are getting enough of both in your daily meals, snacks and deserts so that you aren’t plagued and tormented with feelings of hunger between your scheduled meals. Eliminating hunger cravings between meals will help support you in a really powerful way, and you don’t need artificial supplements or pills to curb your appetite - fiber and protein will take care of this, and they are good for you.
The prescription for weight loss and body transformation at age 45 or beyond. Take a read of these age specific weight loss tactics and strategies in this article. Think about the opportunities in your daily routine to make some small changes. If you are not already, invest in following a meal plan. A meal plan is not a diet, and this is a really important distinction. A diet is a temporary measure, usually based on extreme food restrictions. Diets are almost always unsustainable over time. A meal plan is a lifestyle choice, a way to plan and organize your food in a mindful and authentic way, and it supports weight loss, exercise, sleep and your overall health and wellbeing in a holistic way. Our plan also includes a cookbook with easy to prepare recipes, as well as a nutrition guide to help empower you with the knowledge necessary to make better choices. We also cover off things like how to eat out, and select alcohol and wines with low sugar content. It’s a workable plan for a life of eating delicious foods that support your goals, and we are very proud of it.
Get moving again. I can’t stress enough how important starting a strength training / HIIT workout program is. After 45, we need to start addressing our loss of lean muscle, not just to help us lose weight and shed excess fat so that we look better, but to ensure that our bodies will be strong, agile and mobile for years to come. No one wants to be that person with a walker. Our Beginner Bootcamp is a 30 day program that will meet you at your current level of fitness - whatever that looks like. It has been the successful starting point for thousands of women (and men) in their 30’s - 40’s - 50’s - 60’s and beyond. It’s achievable and will not just build your strength and endurance, but also your confidence in yourself and your sense of accomplishment. So many people haven’t felt accomplished around their fitness goals in years, that when you can actually complete a workout, and then the next, that it ignites something inside of them that changes their life. Sometimes it just takes a small spark, and we’ve designed the Beginner Bootcamp to be exactly that - the spark that brings your fitness and health dreams back to life. As I mentioned above, we are offering a full year of all of our workouts on BodyRockPlus - including Seasons 1 and 2 of the Beginner Bootcamp for just $69 for the year with code NY22 - we hope that you join us, we’d love to have you.
Remember that it’s never too late to make a change, and a lot of women discover fitness in their 40’s and 50’s. What’s possible is an exciting and deeply rewarding experience that can uplift your whole life.