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The Weight Loss Centre

Diet Keys For Women Over 40


Have you ever bounced out of bed in the morning ready to take on the world, grab a paid of old jeans, and suddenly your world stops as you realise with horror, they are tight and uncomfortable? Yikes!  That's only supposed to happen in the evening....not first thing in the morning!!  Have they shrunk? Do they need ironing (i.e. stretching out)?  No.  The reality is, you've changed and didn't notice it...until now.


What is going on? If this hasn't happened to you, then this article will help you keep on top of your weight as you pass through life's decades.  If you relate to the story above and you are in your forties, read on for some understanding about how to take charge of your body!


There are two keys to losing weight. First the conversion of food to energy. Second, your body's use of that energy - your metabolism. It's a simple equation. If you take in more energy than required, you gain weight. If you take in less energy than required, you lose weight.


If you body receives excess calories, it efficiently stores them for later on in case they are needed when food is scarce. Your body will store this extra energy source as adipose tissue, that is - fat.


Anyone who has turned 45 will not be surprised to hear that women's metabolism noticeably slows down around about that time. It doesn't start at 45 but has been in progress for about a decade, almost imperceptibly. However, after ten years or so, you might wake up one morning and realise that everything's starting to be different and if you were used to dropping a few pounds by sheer will power and cutting back on calories here and there, you might find that it simply won't work the same way it used to!


What has been happening since around the age of 35 years, is that your metabolism has been slowing in the order of 5 percent every decade. That will mean that if you weight the same at 45 as you did at 35 and you still eat the same calories, you might be gaining weight!


For many of us, myself included, the weight gain has been so gradual that you don't notice it until you try on some of your 'old jeans' and there is an ugly roll of fat dripping over the waist! My daughter calls it the 'muffin-look'!


Many people naturally gain about 1/2 a kilo a year. This may not seem much but after 10,15 or 20 years it adds up to a lot and can make a significant impact on your health, not to mention your self esteem.


Muscle is the Key


If you have ever joined with your male partner in a weight loss programme you may have noticed that men are able to lose weight more easily than women. Life seems cruel sometimes. Men hold a metabolic edge over women because they have more muscle, and muscles are the "workhorses" of the body.


Many women who felt slim at 35 years, still weighing the same at 45 hnow consider themselves "fat". No it probably isn't social conditioning. It is more likely to be the truth and they are actually more "fat" than they used to be. The scales are not the only answer to understanding what's going on in your body.


Consider the case of Marilyn who weighed 63 kilos at age 35. At that time, 23 percent of her body consisted of fat. (Experts consider 23 to 33 percent body fat healthy for women ages 40 to 59). Back then, 15 of Marilyn's 63 kilos were fat. The rest--48 kilos--consisted of bone, muscle, water, and internal organs.


By the time Marilyn reached age 48, her body fat had increased from 23 percent to 30 percent, yet her weight had remained the same. Her body now contains 20 kilos of fat, 5 more kilos of fat than at age 35. At the same time, Marilyn had lost approximately 5 pounds of muscle.


When women gain fat and lose muscle, two things happen:


Fat isn't as dense as muscle, so any fat gained takes up more space than muscle. Even if you haven't gained weight on the scale, your body can appear larger, and your clothing size may even increase.


Because muscle burns more calories than fat, your metabolism slows and you burn fewer calories, which can contribute to weight gain if you don't make adjustments in your calorie consumption. Muscle burns up to 7 times more energy than fat, so the effect on your metabolism can be quite significant.


Marilyn has been extraordinarily careful about what she eats and hasn't been able to lose weight - with good reason. The amount of lean body mass you have is an important factor in determining the rate at which you burn calories. If lean body mass drops, metabolism drops.


Every pound of muscle a woman loses slashes the number of calories she burns by as many as 30 calories a day. If she loses 10 pounds of muscle over 3 decades, she could burn 300 fewer calories each day, or a whopping 2,100 fewer calories each week.


By the time she celebrates her 55th birthday, she could have lost as many as 15 pounds of muscle, and now burn 450 fewer calories each and every day.


What this means for Marilyn--and other women in their forties and fifties--is that maintaining muscle mass is critical as the birthdays add up. Lean muscle matters because there's so much of it.


Calorie-burning muscle accounts for approximately 40 percent of the body mass of a normal-weight woman--that's 56 pounds for a 140-pound woman like Marilyn--so it's a major factor in energy.


Here's some good news: Because muscle mass is linked directly to metabolic rate, women can give their metabolic engines a boost with weight training and other forms of exercise that builds muscle. Second, with eating the right sources of very lean protein you can encourage muscle development as you exercise. Herbalife have developed a programme of weight loss designed to assist women in their forties and fifties with slowing metabolism. You can learn how to burn calories, boost energy and block carbohydrate cravings so that you stay in control and still have all the energy you need to get through the day. 


- The Weight Loss Health Editorial team.





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