Simple strategies to reach and maintain your best body as you age safely
By Malia Frey – Reviewed by a board-certified physician. Updated April 25, 2016
Man weighing himself
Man weighing himself. Mike Kemp / Getty Images
Losing weight as you age is a struggle for both men and women at any age. When the pounds pack on, men may want to lose weight too. Women often complain that weight loss gets harder as they get older. But do men also have a harder time losing weight as they age? I talked to two experts on my Men’s Guide to Weight Loss panel about the challenges that men face when they try to slim down in their 40s and beyond.
They provided great weight loss tips for men (and women!) who are getting older and want to stay lean and healthy.
Does Weight Loss Get Harder with Age?
You might associate age-related hormonal issues with women, but men also have hormonal changes that can affect their weight as they age. “While men don’t have the myriad of hormonal issues that women do, we men do have our own set of hormonal issues,” says “Biggest Loser” champ Pete Thomas. He points to a reduction in testosterone levels, decreased muscle mass and a slowing of metabolism that men face as they age.
Researchers do know that testosterone decreases with age and that less testosterone can cause a decrease in muscle mass. But scientists still wonder if the weight gain that both men and women face is caused more by hormonal changes or by changes in activity levels. Some studies indicate that age-related weight gain is inevitable while others suggest that you can minimize weight gain by staying very active.
Learn diet tips and recipes that make food the easiest part of your weight loss plan.
8 Tips to Lose Weight (or Stay Lean) as You Age
The rules for achieving or maintaining a lean fit physique don’t necessarily change as you get older. But there are some considerations that you should take into account if you want to slim down in your 40s or beyond. Use these tips to lose or maintain your weight as you age.
Connect with your doctor. Your expanding waistline may put you at risk for certain health conditions, including heart disease. Get regular check-ups and ask your doctor key questions about the way that your weight affects your health. If you get rid of your beer belly, you may improve your chances of living a longer, more active life.
Focus on body fat percent. Don’t throw away your bathroom scale, but fat-loss expert and best-selling author Tom Venuto suggests that you worry less about weight and focus more on body composition. Learn how to check your body fat percent. Then try to maintain more fat-free mass to stay active and maintain a healthy metabolism.
Build muscle. What’s the best way to improve your body fat percent? Build muscle! “Resistance training for life is a crucial part of the solution,” says Venuto about maintaining a healthy weight as we age. He says that some people find it easy to lose weight as they get older, but maintaining muscle mass is really the key to keeping your body lean and healthy.
Get enough aerobic activity. Building muscle is important, but don’t forget to do activities that get your heart pumping. Recommendations for the amount of exercise you need depend on your goal and can vary from 150 minutes per week to over 250 minutes per week. Change the duration of each workout to reach your goal and keep your body strong enough for sustained activity.
Incorporate functional training. If we gain weight because we become less active, as many researchers believe, then one way to minimize weight gain is to increase our daily activity. Functional training improves our ability to carry out activities of daily living, which can help us burn calories through non-exercise activity thermogenesis and stay lean.
Maintain healthy habits. As we age, it can get easier to let go of the routines that keep us healthy. For example, poor sleep may affect your food choices during the day. And if your alcohol intake has increased, your waistline may have gotten bigger because of it. Take time to evaluate and build healthy habits that improve your longevity.
Evaluate important relationships. Has your marriage been affected by a change in your weight over time? Has your sex life changed because of your size? Do you avoid active family activities because you’re too big? Facing these relationship issues may give you the incentive you need to make healthy changes and slim down.
Stay positive. Pete Thomas lost enough weight to win a Biggest Loser challenge. He says that you need to learn how to believe in yourself to slim down successfully. “If any man or women believes it will be really hard or impossible to lose weight then that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and even getting started with healthier habits becomes a chore.” He says the worst possible thing to do is to not even attempt to change.
Get Motivated to Leave the Weight Behind as You Age
If you are overweight and getting older, don’t use your age as an excuse to give in. Weight loss is possible for men and women in their 40s and beyond. Stay active, stay connected with your doctor and stay smart to get and keep a healthy body for life.
Jeffery Kahn. “Middle Aged Weight Gain; Men Unlikely to Outrun It.” Berkeley Lab Research News April 1997.
Erin S. LeBlanc, Patty Y. Wang, Christine G. Lee, Elizabeth Barrett-Connor, Jane A. Cauley, Andrew R. Hoffman, Gail A. Laughlin, Lynn M. Marshall and Eric S. Orwoll. “Higher Testosterone Levels Are Associated with Less Loss of Lean Body Mass in Older Men.” The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism December 2011.
Allan Mazur, Ronny Westerman, Ulrich Mueller. “Is Rising Obesity Causing a Secular (Age-Independent) Decline in Testosterone among American Men?” PLoS ONE Oct 16, 2013.
Williams, Paul T. “Maintaining Vigorous Activity Attenuates 7-yr Weight Gain in 8340 Runners.” Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise May 2007.