If you’re over 40 you know how much more difficult it seems to lose body fat. It’s frustrating and seems like you’ll never be able to get back into shape. So many people give up and accept that with age comes a slow metabolism and there’s nothing you can do. WRONG! By following just a couple of these tips you’ll find yourself losing more fat, feeling great and ready to take on the world.
Here we go...
1. Have a Concern for Muscle
After the age of 30 we lose up to 1 pound of muscle per year. This means by the time you hit 40 years old you’ve lost 10 pounds of lean muscle. This is a problem.
Muscle cells are where fat is burned. That means if you have less muscle you have less cells to burn fat. This is what’s commonly referred to as a “slow metabolism.” What you believe is your metabolism slowing down is actually muscle loss... and therefore fat gain.
The worst thing you can do is skip resistance training while trying to lose body fat. If you don’t do any resistance training (strength training) at least half of the weight that you lose will be lean muscle tissue. The result will be a huge rebound when the dieting stops... and regaining the fat PLUS additional fat.
The good news is that you don’t need to bulk up or add a ton of muscle. Just by layering a little bit of lean muscle tissue you will quickly start burning fat, feeling great and looking amazing. And yes, you’ll fit into your favorite pair of jeans again:)
2. Moderate Cardio
Have you ever gone to the gym that first week of the New Year? If so, you probably noticed everyone on the cardio machines, relentlessly pumping away for 45 minutes to an hour in hopes of shedding that extra fat they added during the Holidays.
Excessive cardio doesn’t do a whole lot for burning fat. In fact, for every mile you jog you burn around 100 calories. It’s pretty inefficient for losing weight. Besides, who has tine to spend half the day on a treadmill?
Here’s a better idea...
Do a moderate amount of cardio. That means shorter cardio sessions. These shorter sessions are best with only 10 minutes of work. Try alternating between going all-out fast to get your heart rate up, followed by slowing down to allow your heart rate to come down. A short, intense session such as this will burn more calories than endlessly going on a treadmill or elliptical machine.
3. Always Do Resistance Training First
One of the biggest mistakes men and women over 40 make when trying to lose fat and get into shape is doing cardio training and then a few sets of machines as an after thought.
When you do cardio first, your body uses the glycogen in your muscle (muscle energy) to fuel the cardio training. When you finish and go through some weight training, your body doesn’t have any more glycogen to fuel your strength training. So instead of using fat to fuel the strength/resistance training your body will prefer to use lean muscle tissue. The result is a loss of lean muscle tissue instead of fat. It’s like putting the cart before the horse.
Now, when you do strength/resistance training first your body uses the muscle glycogen to fuel the workout. If you finish with moderate, intense cardio the body will now prefer to pull from fat cells to fuel the cardio training.
As long as you are doing the right amount of quality strength training first, followed by moderate, intense cardio your body is now much more efficient at giving you the results you’re looking for.
4. Supportive Nutrition
We all know that you can’t out-train a bad diet. But you don’t need to count every calorie. Supportive nutrition is simply giving your body the right amount of nutrient-dense foods to support your workouts yet allow for fat loss.
When you start eating nutrient-dense foods your body has an innate ability to turn off your hunger mechanism. That’s because these quality foods are loaded with micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). When your body gets enough of the required micro-nutrients it feels satisfied and therefore no longer hungry.
The bottom line is that by eating more of these high-quality foods you don’t need to count calories or watch everything you eat. In fact, if you do this 90% of the time you can have a couple of cheat meals here and there and still lose a ton of body fat.
Drink more water! Yes, we hear that all of the time. Since we are made up of mostly water it certainly makes sense...
Drinking more water is essential to losing body fat. It rids your body of toxins, keeps your body systems regulated and working properly, and can even help suppress your appetite a bit.
But how much water should you actually drink per day?
It’s simple. Take your body weight in pounds and divide by two. Drink that number in ounces of water each day.
For example: If you weigh 150 pounds, you will need to consume 75 ounces of water each day. That’s approximately 9 glasses of water daily.
[LIFE HACK]: If you drink coffee be sure to drink one cup of water for each cup you drink.
6. Get Enough Sleep
This is one tip that gets so overlooked. I can’t tell you the number of adults I know that don’t sleep well or enough each night.
Sleep is recovery. Recovery is necessary to help repair your body and recover from life’s daily tasks... along with working out.
If you don’t sleep enough your body (and mind) are more stressed out. This stress leads to an increase in Cortisol. This hormone tells your body to hold on to more fat... making the process of getting into shape much more difficult.
When you don’t get enough sleep your body is also more susceptible to illness and injuries.
[LIFE HACK]: Cat naps! If you can close your eyes and relax and possibly fall asleep for no longer than 15-20 minutes you can quickly rejuvenate yourself from fatigue. Of course, it’s not a substitute for getting your actual 7 or so hours per night but it’s helpful at times.
7. Hit It and Quit It
When you’re over 40 you need to actually workout less than when you were in your 20’s and 30’s. This is not to be confused with intensity. You should always give it your all and work to get stronger. But you need days of complete rest at this time in your life. A big mistake many 40+ people make when they are ready to get back into shape is thinking they need to go to the gym each and every day. This is actually counter-productive. 2-3 full body workouts each week will suffice.
On days that you don’t workout you can stretch, go for a nice walk or do nothing at all. Your choice.
Just be sure to give it your all when you do workout. This is a great way to keep your motivation too. If you know you have to do some home workout video that makes you do it every single day you’re going to burn out and lose motivation. But if you know you have 3 days per week to work hard, yet 4 days to enjoy your life, family and socialize you’re going to stick with it. I know... I’ve been doing it for years myself and with my clients.
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Steve Preston, Strength Coach, Husband and Doggie Daddy.