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9 Common Weight Loss Myths for Men Over 40

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By: Erin Coleman, B.S. - Nutritional Science, R.D., L.D.,

Writer at The Fit Father Project

weight loss over 40
You’ve probably heard about numerous weight loss philosophies, and may be confused as to which is the best strategy for losing weight over 40.

It’s true that metabolism decreases with age, but weight loss is still within reach!

Distinguishing between myth and fact when it comes to shedding pounds helps you achieve weight loss success, regardless of your age.

Myth #1: You Have to Count Calories to Lose Weight

Counting calories is one way of losing weight over 40 — but it can be tedious and time-consuming, or make you want to give up on dieting altogether. Many men over 40 need about 1,500 to 1,800 calories a day to get the excess weight off, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

counting calories losing weight after 40If you’d like to track calories initially to see where your starting point is, that’s perfectly okay!

The U.S. Department of Agriculture provides a food composition database with corresponding calorie content and nutrition information for all of your favorite foods.

Using a food journal to track what you eat is beneficial when calorie counting is your goal.

However, you don’t have to count calories to shed pounds.

perfect plate losing weight after 40Try reducing your current intake by 500 to 1,000 calories a day to lose 1 to 2 pounds per week, or simply divide each meal plate into sections.

Separate your plate using the following healthy eating strategy:

  • Fill 1/2 of your plate with vegetables (plus some fruits if you’d like)
  • Fill 1/4 of your plate with protein foods (lean meats, grilled chicken, fish, tofu, eggs, peas, dried beans, etc.)
  • Fill 1/4 of your plate with fiber-rich starches (quinoa, brown rice, oatmeal, or sweet potatoes)
  • Don’t forget to include healthy fats (oils, olives, nuts, seeds, nut butter, or avocados)

If you divide your plate properly and you’re still not losing weight, decrease the portion sizes.

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Myth #2: If You Eat Carbohydrates, You Won’t Lose Weight

It’s true that eating too many unhealthy carbs can hinder weight loss.

good carbs losing weight after 40However, high-fiber, carb-rich foods can give you the energy needed to stay physically active throughout the day and get in regular workouts.

Limiting carbohydrates is okay and effective for losing weight over 40, but the carbohydrate recommended dietary allowance (RDA) is 130 grams per day for adults.

When choosing carbohydrates to add to weight loss menus, select carbs rich in fiber, protein, or both.

vegan simple vs complex carbs losing weight after 40Examples of healthy carbs include:

  • Brown rice
  • Wild rice
  • Quinoa
  • Oatmeal
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Peas
  • Dried beans
  • Other vegetables
  • Plain yogurt
  • Low-fat milk
  • Fruits
  • Nuts
  • Seeds

sugar-in-drinks losing weight after 40Carbohydrates to steer clear of (due to added sugar or low fiber content) during weight loss are:

  • Sugary drinks (sodas, sweet tea, and juices)
  • Candy
  • Ice cream
  • Other desserts
  • Baked goods
  • White bread
  • White rice
  • Sauces, dressings, and dips containing added sugar
  • Sports drinks containing added sugar

Cutting your intake of unhealthy carbs reduces your overall calorie intake, which enhances weight loss and is an absolute must for losing weight over 40.

Myth #3: Low-Fat Diets Work Best for Losing Weight Over 40

Low-fat diets were once popular for weight loss, as dietary fat provides 9 calories per gram and carbohydrates and protein contain just 4 calories per gram.

avocado losing weight after 40However, going low-fat isn’t necessarily the best way to drop weight over 40.

A 2018 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that after a period of 12 months, low-carb dieters lost slightly more weight than low-fat dieters.

So while low-fat diets can help you cut calories to shed pounds, low-carb diets are equally (if not more so) effective.

Because dietary fat boosts satiety, aids in vitamin absorption, and is necessary to keep your hair, nails, skin, and brain (especially omega-3 fatty acids) healthy, you may want to think twice about choosing a low-fat diet for losing weight over 40.

Myth #4: Weight Loss after 40 Isn’t Possible

Metabolism does decrease with age. The American Council on Exercise (ACE) says daily energy expenditure decreases by about 150 calories per decade after age 20, and reductions in metabolism appear to happen most rapidly in men over age 40.

This is due to changes associated with age and decreases in muscle mass.

However, your metabolism doesn’t determine whether or not you can effectively drop weight. If you continuously burn more calories than you eat daily, you can shed pounds at any age — even after 40.

Some ways to boost daily calorie expenditure after 40 include:

  • Walk or bike to work instead of driving
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Use a sit-stand desk at work
  • Make regular yard work a habit
  • Lift weights most days of the week
  • Complete at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise most of the week
  • Clean the house regularly to burn extra calories
  • Practice sports training with your kids
  • Stand vs. sit whenever possible

Increasing the calories you burn daily makes up for decreases in metabolism associated with age, which means losing weight over 40 is not only possible — it can be easy and fun!

Myth #5: Resistance Training Isn’t Important for Losing Weight Over 40

Weight training isn’t necessarily the most important part of losing weight over 40, but adding it to your regular routine helps you maintain (or even gain) lean body mass when shedding pounds.

sitting dumbbell press losing weight after 40This is important for several reasons, including:

  1. Increased muscle mass from resistance training helps your body burn extra calories throughout the entire day
  2. Maintaining lean body mass enhances weight loss, and improves muscle definition
  3. Resistance training improves strength in men over 40, and prevents loss of muscle associated with aging

A 2017 study published in Advances in Nutrition found that both endurance and resistance training exercises prevent lean body mass loss associated with weight loss.

Researchers say reducing calories combined with increased resistance exercise prevents muscle loss and improves strength in people who are overweight.

With improved strength comes increased energy, which helps you stay active throughout the entire day. You don't even have to lift weights to reap the benefits of muscle and strength gains.

Using your own body weight (pushups, planks, lunges, and squats, for example) does the trick!

Myth #6: Switching to Diet Drinks Works Well for Weight Loss

Diet sodas and other artificially-sweetened drinks may be low in calories or even calorie-free, but that doesn’t mean these beverages work well for weight loss.

diet soda losing weight after 40In fact, the opposite may be true, when comparing diet drinks to water for losing weight over 40.

One 2014 study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that obese and overweight adults drink more diet drinks than normal-weight adults.

Researchers found that diet beverage drinkers consume total calorie intakes similar to overweight adults who drink sugar-sweetened beverages (such as regular sodas). This might be due to:

  • Sweet-tasting diet drinks (even those that are calorie-free) may enhance cravings for high-calorie, sugary foods
  • Overweight adults trying to shed pounds with diet drinks may have additional unhealthy eating habits

Researchers who conducted the study in the American Journal of Public Health say overweight adults who drink diet beverages must reduce their intake of solid-food calories to effectively shed pounds.

If sweet-tasting diet drinks cause increases in sugar cravings for you, it’s probably best to switch to water (or low-sugar protein drinks that boost satiety).

Myth #7: Cheat Days Hinder Weight Loss

Eating too much junk food does hinder weight loss, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some of your favorite foods while losing weight over 40. In fact, alternating periods of strict dieting with more liberal menus might be more effective for weight loss.

dwayne johnson cheat day losing weight after 40That's because allowing yourself cheat days is a form of dieting that's often easier to stick with long term.

A 2018 study published in the International Journal of Obesity found that obese men who alternated between periods of calorie restriction and days off (intermittent energy restriction) lost more weight and body fat than obese men who restricted calories every single day.

Researchers say this may be due to reductions in slower metabolisms associated with calorie restriction.

So while energy reduction is important for losing weight over 40, taking “cheat days” off may help enhance weight loss — as long as you don't splurge and eat more calories than you burn off.

Myth #8: You Have to Hit the Gym Daily to Shed Pounds

Regular exercise helps you get the lean body you’re striving for, but you don’t have to hit the gym daily or complete grueling sweat sessions to shed pounds.

man sitting down resting losing weight after 40Diet is most important when it comes to weight loss, but combining diet with exercise does give you an advantage.

The reason dieting appears to be the biggest predictor of weight loss success is because it’s often easier to cut calories than to burn off extra calories.

For example, by replacing three regular cans of soda with water, you’ll reduce your intake by almost 500 calories per day.

This can lead to a weight loss rate of about 1 pound per week!

In comparison, burning an extra 500 calories daily means you may have to walk at a pace of 4 miles per hour for 60 minutes (or more, depending on your initial body weight).

While exercise isn’t required for losing weight over 40, it certainly makes weight loss easier. And, regular workout sessions help give you the slim, lean body you deserve.

Myth #9: The Older You Get, the Harder it is to Shed Pounds

While it appears that U.S. men ages 40 to 59 have some of the highest obesity rates in the nation (almost 41 % of U.S. men in this age category are classified as obese), obesity prevalence in men and women appears to decline around age 60.

older man working out losing weight after 40This could be due to decreases in muscle mass, fluctuations in hormones or metabolism, or something else.

Even U.S. men ages 20 to 39 have high obesity rates of almost 35 %, which isn’t much lower than the obesity prevalence of men over 40.

So while you may have a slight disadvantage if you want to shed pounds over 40, it can still be done with ease when using the right diet and exercise program.

How to Begin a Weight Loss Journey

With so much contradictory weight loss advice available online, it can be overwhelming trying to figure out where to begin.

Fit Father Project has a weight loss program specifically designed for busy men over 40 trying to get rid of excess body weight and keep lost weight off for good.

>>>Download our free meal plan to get started<<<

1 day meal plan

Here’s A Free Weight Loss Meal Plan For Busy Men 40+

1 day meal plan
Discover exactly what to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner to lose belly fat & feel energized 24/7 without hard dieting...

Coming up with your own weight loss diet and exercise routine is certainly feasible, but signing up for an organized program gets you headed in the right direction by:

  • Saving you time planning meals and workouts
  • Offering coaching and social support to keep you accountable long term
  • Providing a proven way to achieve the lean body you deserve

Don’t fall for myths related to losing weight over 40, or get discouraged if the weight doesn’t come off right away. Weight loss is possible regardless of how old you are, and is simple when using the Fit Father Project!

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Erin Coleman B.S. - Nutritional Science, R.D., L.D.

Writer at The Fit Father Project

Erin Coleman is a registered and licensed dietitian with over 15 years of freelance writing experience.

She graduated with her Bachelor of Science degree in nutritional science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and completed her dietetic internship at Viterbo University in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

Prior to beginning her career in medical content writing, Erin worked as Health Educator for the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Internal Medicine.

Her published work appears on hundreds of health and fitness websites, and she’s currently working on publishing her first book! Erin is a wife, and a Mom to two beautiful children.

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