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Over 40? Have you noticed weight gain even though you’re eating and exercise habits haven’t changed?

Many of my new clients come to me at a complete loss and wonder WHY they are slowly gaining weight and HOW they can stop this from happening. More often than not we need to blame our hormones.

Did you know, your metabolic rate (the rate at which your body burns calories) slows down 5 per cent every 10 years after the age of 40, making it harder to fight weight gain over 40. Plus, after age 50, the decline in muscle mass occurs at a rate of 1 to 2 per cent annually. The more muscle mass we have the more energy we burn, even when we are stationary.

BUT do not feel this means you cannot do anything to lose or maintain a stable weight. Just making small and consistent changes in your daily life can have a huge effect on your body and may even help alleviate symptoms that come with menopause.

Tweaking what you are eating and the exercise you do can really help:

Add cardio, resistance & strength training (bodyweight & weights)

Strength training, using bodyweight, bands or weights will help maintain and build muscle mass. Exercising regularly will increase weight loss, improve your balance, and posture and have a positive effect on your mental health.

For more information on strength training and its benefits download our app

Increase your intake of protein, fruit & vegetables

Diets can be super restricting and are not always sustainable. Try practising intuitive and mindful eating. Listen to what your body needs. Try to eat foods that nourish and fuel and that keep you fuller for longer. Load up on green veg, salad, pulses and fruit – making your plate as colourful as possible.  Takeaways and foods high in fat and sugar should be eaten in moderation, but you don’t have to completely expel them!

For an in-depth look at how to eat better as you age check out this book written by The Menopause Nutritionist Emma Bardwell – The Good Guide To Eating Well In Your 40s And Beyond.

Reduce consumption of sugar & alcohol

 It’s important to be mindful when eating certain foods like cereal, yoghurts, cakes and biscuits, ready-made meals, hot drinks, fruit juice and fizzy drinks, as they all have added sugars. The recommended daily intake for an adult is 7 teaspoons a day. This may sound like a lot but believe me, it adds up very quickly.

A high sugar diet can also play havoc if you are in menopause. As our hormones shift, our adrenals often become highly sensitive causing anxiety and heart palpitations. When we add sugar to this, it can heighten these symptoms further.

Here’s a top tip for reducing your sugar intake. When buying foods, take a look at the ingredients at the back, anything that ends in -ose or syrup generally is an added sugar, so try to avoid this!

For many of us having a glass of wine at the end of the day is a well-earned treat, but our ‘treats’ are often full of hidden sugar and can be doing more damage than good.

Alcohol has a reputation for disturbing sleep, having a negative impact on your mental health, increasing symptoms for women in perimenopause and menopause and raising our heart rate……and that’s only the beginning.

Many people see alcohol as a way to de-stress. Make a list of healthier options that you can be doing instead of pouring a glass.

Ideas such as taking a long relaxing bath, having herbal tea, a walk, doing yoga, watching your favourite TV show, making a healthy snack or dessert or even listening to a podcast or music.

Avoid eating late at night

Do you ever feel like you eat a healthy and balanced diet throughout the day but when it comes to the evening you turn into a cookie monster?! You are not alone.

This may be because you are not eating enough during the day which can lead to hunger in the early evening. Maybe you’re not satisfying your cravings enough, by having a good balance of protein, fibre, fruit & veg which can lead to binging on foods, particularly those you have restricted yourself from eating all day.

The key to this is to allow yourself to have a treat or two during the day and aim to eat foods that will keep you fuller for longer. Focus on creating a sustainable and healthy eating habit that is not full of restrictions.

Eating late into the evenings can increase your chances of acid reflux, and blood pressure and slow your body’s metabolism – all of which can increase weight gain.

Drink at least 2L of water

Staying hydrated is very important, especially as we age. Water helps with fatigue, gives us that much-wanted energy maximizes our physical performance and gives us brainpower! More often than not, when we feel hungry, it is often dehydration.  So

Try short intermittent fasting between 7pm & 11am

Intermittent fasting may not be for everyone but it can give you results, fire up your metabolism, and help to control unhealthy eating habits. It also has some great evidence-based positives such as lowering cholesterol, improving blood pressure, reducing body weight and improving glucose control.

I try to add a few days of fasting to my week. I generally start the day with hot water and lemon to help my liver & kidneys function better and look to eat around 11 am.  It is surprisingly easy once you start.

Before trying intermittent fasting, I suggest you do some research and make sure you know all the pros and cons and how to fast in an effective and healthy manner.

Although there are things, we can implement to help control or lose weight, it’s key to be kind to yourself.  I always suggest starting small and building, especially if you want to create long-lasting healthy habits.

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