Diet Plan For Women Over 40


Diet plan for women over 40 is a general diet plan for all women who are over the age of 40. The basic diet principles are to reduce one’s calorie intake and modify their food choices. The following article provides diet advice for women over 40, along with easy to follow healthy eating guides, including training programs that make use of Olympic-style dieting.

What Is the Best Diet for Women Over 40?

best diet for women over 40

The best diet for women over 40 is one that considers both caloric and nutritional requirements.

Knowing which foods work best for you and your needs will help you to create an amazing body that lasts a lifetime.

Eating whole foods is the best weight loss and healthy eating strategy for numerous reasons.

Whole foods are loaded with nutrients as they haven’t been processed, or altered in any way.

They are the foods you find in nature.

Whole foods are free from added sugars, preservatives, other fillers, and are usually lower in calories (and higher in fiber) than processed foods.

Because whole foods are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients, these foods maximize energy during weight loss.

They also prevent nutrient deficiencies that can take a toll on your health.

But the best diet for women over 40 is more than just whole foods.

Here’s what you need to know to choose the diet that’s right for YOU!

You don’t have to starve yourself to reach and maintain a healthy weight! It’s time to start rethinking dieting.

What Makes Weight Loss Over 40 Work?

There are numerous key components of the best diet for women over 40.

When broken down into individual parts, planning weight loss meals and menus can feel like a breeze. An effective weight loss diet over 40 includes:

The Right Number of Calories

Planning a weight loss diet for women over 40 involves controlling your calorie intake.

Increased age is associated with lower calorie requirements, as metabolism tends to slow down the older you are.

To maintain a healthy weight, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest women over 40 eat the following number of calories based on how active they are:

  • Age 41-50: 1,800-2,200 calories
  • Age 51-60: 1,600-2,200 calories
  • Age 61 and older: 1,600-2,000 calories

If weight loss is your goal, subtract 500-1,000 calories from your usual intake.

For many women, this means eating just 1,200-1,500 calories per day (up to 1,800 calories for women who weigh more or are very active).

To follow a reduced-calorie diet for weight loss, aim to eat about:

  • 3 meals containing about 300-350 calories each
  • 2-3 snacks containing 200-250 calories each

Lots of Vegetables

There are three main categories of vegetables.

Starchy vegetables are rich in carbohydrates and sometimes protein too, and non-starchy vegetables are much lower in calories and carbs.

Aim to fill half of each plate with non-starchy vegetables during weight loss and one-fourth of your plate with starchy foods.

Examples of the various types of vegetables include:

  • Non-Starchy Veggies: lettuce, spinach, other leafy greens, cabbage, onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, bell peppers, celery, mushrooms, asparagus, zucchini, broccoli, and cauliflower.
  • Protein-Rich Starchy Vegetables: peas, black beans, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, lentils, and other legumes.
  • Other Starchy Veggies: corn, yams, squash, and sweet potatoes.

All vegetables are loaded with fiber, which enhances weight loss by boosting satiety and keeping you full longer.


Protein foods aid in weight loss because they increase satiety, help your body burn extra calories, and enhance muscle maintenance during weight loss.

Fill one-fourth of your plate with nutritious protein foods like organic lean meats, chicken, turkey, fish, seafood, eggs, tofu, and seitan.

Limit red meat and steer clear of processed meats like bacon, sausage, ham, cold cut meats, and hot dogs.

Protein Shakes

Protein shakes make excellent meal replacements or satiating snacks during weight loss, and are usually good sources of calcium.

To create your own homemade protein shake mix together whey, casein, egg, or plant-based protein powder with water or milk.

Add in fruit or nut butter if you desire, blend it with ice, and enjoy!

How much protein do you need per day? Calculate your daily protein intake!

Calcium-Rich Foods

Foods rich in calcium are crucial for maximizing bone health in women, and many of these foods are loaded with vitamin D and protein.

Aim to consume 2-3 servings of dairy foods or calcium-rich substitutes daily.

Examples include low-fat milk, Greek yogurt, low-fat cottage cheese, reduced-fat cheese, almond milk, soy milk, other plant milk, and vegan yogurts (such as soy or almond milk yogurt).

Heart-Healthy Fats

Nutritious fats are an important part of the best diet for women over 40.

These fats increase satiety, maximize brain health, and help keep your hair, skin, and nails healthy.

Choose a heart-healthy fat at each meal and snack to complete weight loss meal plans for women over 40.

Examples include avocados, nuts, seeds, nut butter, olive oil, other plant oils, olives, fatty fish or fish oil, and hummus.

Dip fruit in nut butter, cook with olive oil, dip veggie sticks in hummus, add avocados to salads and sandwiches, snack on nuts between meals, top yogurt or cottage cheese with seeds, and take a fish oil supplement if your doctor recommends it.

No Processed Foods

Cutting back on processed foods aids in weight loss over 40 and can improve your overall health and wellness.

Processed foods are often loaded with added sugar or sodium, and contain less fiber than many whole foods.

Examples of foods to avoid when following the best weight loss diet for women over 40 include sweets, sugary drinks, potato chips, processed meats (hot dogs, regular bacon, ham, etc.), white rice, white bread, regular pasta, fried foods, baked goods, and pizza.

Limit Alcohol

Alcohol is linked with certain types of cancer and contains 7 calories per gram vs. the 4 calories per gram in protein and carbohydrates.

Mixing alcohol with sugary drinks or other mixers further boosts its calorie content, and these calories don’t nourish your body.

Steer clear of alcoholic drinks if you can or limit them as much as possible for effective weight loss in women over 40.

Choose water, coffee, and green tea instead.

Find out if drinking alcohol and losing weight can be done at the same time!


Some of the most effective short-term weight-loss diets are difficult to maintain for life.

When weight loss is your goal, choose a well-balanced diet you can continue indefinitely.

Losing weight at a slower pace of 1-2 pounds per week might not sound desirable, but this rate of weight loss is most effective for long-term success vs. a temporary quick fix.

Gender-Specific Components

What works for weight loss in men might not necessarily be right for women.

While the concept is the same, women over 40 have unique nutritional and weight loss needs compared with men and younger women.

The best weight loss diet for women over 40 is something that’s specifically designed for women in this age category.

After 40: Women’s Nutrition and Metabolism Needs

They say 40 is the new 30, thanks to healthier habits. Yet, women (like men) continue to struggle with weight and other medical concerns as they enter their 40s.

Both your nutritional needs (food and water) and your metabolism (how fast your body converts food to energy) change at this age. Your metabolism gets slower. Women lose about half a pound of muscle per year starting around the age of 40. That makes losing weight even more difficult. Some of these changes women experience are due to decreased hormones, reduced activity level, and medical conditions.

Path to improved wellness

What you eat is even more important as you enter your 40s. Women need protein (meat, fish, dairy, beans, and nuts), carbohydrates (whole grains), fats (healthy oils), vitamins, minerals, and water. These foods have been linked to some disease prevention, such as osteoporosis, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. The American Academy of Family Physicians supports the development of healthy food supply chains in supplemental nutrition programs so as to broaden the availability of healthy food.


If you haven’t gotten serious about your nutrition by the time you are 40, it’s time to start.

  • Choose a variety of vegetables, including dark green, red and orange, beans and peas, starchy and non-starchy.
  • Eat a variety of fruits.
  • Include grains in your daily diet. Half of your grains should be whole grains.
  • Stick to fat-free or low-fat dairy. This includes milk, yogurt, cheese, or fortified soy products.
  • Have protein at every meal. Healthy protein includes lean meat (chicken), seafood, eggs, beans and peas, nuts, seeds, and soy products.
  • Use healthy oils, such as olive oil.

Additionally, women should consume:

  • Less than 10% of your daily calories from added sugars (desserts and processed foods)
  • Less than 10% of daily calories from saturated fats (red meat, high-fat dairy)
  • Less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) per day of sodium
  • Not more than one drink per day of alcohol
  • Calcium, dietary fiber, potassium, vitamin A and vitamin C


After 40, your hormone levels (estrogen) drop. This causes your insulin (hormone that helps your body use sugar) rise. Your thyroid levels go down. This combination makes you hungrier. You end up eating more and burning fewer calories. Much of the weight gain occurs around your belly. Eat more foods with fiber (berries, whole grains, nuts) to fill you up and help you eat less. Aim for 25 grams of fiber each day after the age of 40. Other ways to increase your metabolism include:

  • Eat breakfast.
  • Exercise.
  • Drink cold water.
  • Sleep well.
  • Eat spicy food.

Things to consider

After 40, most women gain belly fat. Belly fat has been linked to diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, dementia, and certain cancers. If you have any of these conditions in your 40s, follow your doctor’s advice for nutrition.

At age 40, women lose muscle mass twice as fast as men. Most of the loss occurs in your core muscles, which supports your abdomen (another reason for belly fat). Crash diets (eating a very low amount of calories to lose weight fast in a short amount of time) and not using your muscles also causes muscle loss.

Why Is It So Hard To Lose Weight After 40?

It is not a secret that losing weight becomes more difficult with age. People who easily shed some pounds in their youth feel helpless and desperate when they can’t lose their weight as they get older. But why is it so hard to lose weight after 40? The main reasons are:

  • Age-Related Muscle Loss

As you age, the amount of lean muscles in your body decreases. This process is called sarcopenia. You may also lose muscles if you suffer from arthritis or a certain injury, and thus move less. Since your muscle mass decreases, your body burns fewer calories, which then makes it more difficult to slim down using the same methods you used to.

  • Hormonal Changes

Men and women all go through hormonal changes as they age. Oftentimes these changes lead to weight gain. When men hit 40 their testosterone levels start to gradually decrease. This hormone, among other things, regulates fat distribution and muscle mass. This means its reduction makes your body burn fewer calories.

Another factor that makes it more difficult to shed pounds after 40 is a decrease in the production of growth hormone. This is responsible for many processes, including the growth and maintenance of muscle mass. So, its decrease also reduces the number of calories your body burns.

  • Decrease In Physical Activity

As you become older, you tend to move less. Vigorous physical activity may take too much energy and effort, and sometimes even cause pain or certain health problems. This makes it very difficult to burn the extra calories which your diet doesn’t reduce.

How to Address Fat Loss at 40

A calorie deficit is still the surest route to losing weight. Quick weight-loss fads may tempt you, but they often provide you with such a low calorie intake that you may feel hungry much of the time, which may discourage you. Even if you can manage it for a while, you may end up missing out on important nutrients. Quick weight loss only expedites muscle loss, leaving you with an even stodgier metabolism that makes weight loss harder and weight gain almost inevitable. Any diet that has you consuming fewer than 1,200 calories per day is too low.

A manageable deficit of 500 to 1,000 calories per day, created by moderating portions and increasing physical activity, is doable by most women over age 40. It’s also effective as shown by a 2012 study published in Obesity in which a combination of diet and exercise yielded the greatest weight loss results in post-menopausal women after one year.

The 500- to 1,000-calorie deficit yields a loss of 1 to 2 pounds per week, since 1 pound equals 3,500 calories. Losing at a faster rate, especially after the first one or two weeks of making changes, puts you at an increased risk of developing gall stones. Determine how many calories you need daily to maintain your weight based on your exact age, activity level and size using an online calculator and determine your deficit from that number. The average 40-year old woman burns between 1,800 and 2,200 calories per day, depending on activity.

Essential Dos and Don’ts for Weight Loss in Women Over 40

Do See Your Doctor

When you hit the age of 40, you start to notice significant changes in the way your body looks and feels. Of course, some changes—like grey hair and wrinkles —are cosmetic differences that don’t necessarily affect your medical health. But other changes, like an increase in weight or new areas of your body where you hold weight, can have an impact on your longevity.1

The Motivation to Lose Weight After 40

Weight loss may play a big role in your overall well-being and your ability to age well. When you go in for your annual check-up or before you start a diet, talk to your healthcare provider about how your weight impacts your risk for certain conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and cancer.2

Find out if weight loss might decrease your health risks or improve your physical well-being. You may be able to decrease your risk of disease or even stop taking certain medications if you lose weight. And having that important information may help you to stay motivated when weight loss becomes challenging.

Don’t (Completely) Blame Menopause

Are menopausal changes affecting your weight? Many women struggle with weight loss before, during, and sometimes even long after menopause. Weight gain at this time may be related to changes in your hormones.1 But this is also a time when many women make changes to their daily routines that may affect their weight.

For example, after the kids leave home some women are not as busy during the day with non-exercise physical activities like carrying groceries, lifting laundry baskets, and other household chores.

And many women begin to enjoy certain leisurely activities that can contribute to changes on the scale—like eating out more often, enjoying longer vacations, or replacing athletic hobbies with more sedentary ones.

Evaluate your lifestyle to make sure that a change in your daily habits isn’t affecting your weight. Consider getting an activity tracker to find out how many calories you burn each day and make sure that your energy balance isn’t out of whack.

You can even evaluate your caloric expenditure throughout the day and add activities during the times when you tend to be more sedentary. Simple changes can make a big difference in your metabolism.

Do Reboot Your Confidence

Has your age affected your self-confidence? Do you feel less satisfied with your body? Or do you still feel self-assured and sexy when you are around younger women? Believe it or not, your confidence level can play a role in your ability to lose weight.3

Confidence and Weight Loss Over 40

Sex appeal and body confidence don’t need to fade with age. Many women say that their 40s are the sexiest decade. Often, women experience renewed confidence, professional success, and a more sultry sense of self during this decade. So why not use it to your advantage?

If you’re trying to reshape your body or lose weight in your 40s, a renewed sense of confidence and sex appeal will help you reach your goals. It can be easier to care for a body you appreciate and love rather than a body you believe is inherently flawed.

Self-efficacy (your belief in your ability to achieve your goals) is also an important element your weight loss journey. Take time to keep a journal to acknowledge your experience, your accomplishments, and your talents. Think about how your life experience and the challenges you’ve overcome can help you to become stronger during your weight loss journey. Losing weight after 40 becomes a little bit easier when you remind yourself of the wisdom you’ve gained over the years.

Don’t Ignore Goal Setting

The most important first step to setting up a weight loss plan will require you to sit down with a pen and paper. Why? A well-designed weight loss plan starts with a goal.

Smart Goals for Over-40 Weight Loss

Your weight loss goal will steer your weight loss journey and help you to stay on track when the going gets rough. Smaller behavioral goals (such as eating 2 to 3 more servings of vegetables each day) can help you to reach your larger weight loss goal.4

Not sure how to set powerful goals that yield real weight loss results? Learn to set SMART goals. SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. They are used by business leaders and motivational coaches to help anyone become more successful.

If you want your weight loss plan to work, begin with a SMART goal session. It takes just 30 minutes or less to set up, and it provides a road map for your entire weight loss journey.

Do Get Enough Sleep

It’s very hard to slim down when you’re not resting properly. Studies have shown that we are more likely to make poor food choices when we are tired.5 We are also less likely to exercise and stay active when we’re exhausted. So it’s important to make small changes to improve your sleep at night.

Start by setting up a nighttime ritual that you practice each night before bed. It might involve taking a short relaxing shower or bath. You may want to turn off your cell phone and store it out away from your bedroom. Many smart sleepers also remove other electronic devices (like a television) from the bedroom.

Try to wake at the same time each morning, even on the weekends. Steer clear of high-calorie coffee drinks and use diet-friendly methods to boost your energy instead, such as tea.

Don’t Rely on Cardio Alone

In your 20s and 30s, you may have been able to lose weight with a walking program or simply by staying more active during the day. Or you might have slimmed down with aerobics classes or other cardio activities. But if you’re serious about losing weight after 40, you’ll add strength training and flexibility to your workout schedule.

Exercise for Weight Loss Over 40

You need three types of exercise to slim down, tone up, and stay healthy. Make sure you incorporate cardiovascular exercise, strength training, and stretching into your weekly program. Each type of exercise provides unique weight loss benefits.

  • Cardiovascular activity: Also called aerobic activity, cardio helps you to maintain heart health and burn more calories during each session.6
  • Flexibility training: Maintain healthy joints and decrease stress by stretching. Flexibility training can also help you reduce aging-related pain that might be sabotaging your workout regimen.7
  • Strength training: This helps you to burn more calories all day long. Muscles require more energy to maintain so your metabolism will benefit when you build them. Muscles also help to shape a tighter physique.

You can spend just 15 to 30 minutes each day on stretching, cardio, and strength training to see real changes in the way your body looks and feels.

Do Change Your Diet

Smart goals, better sleep, communication with your healthcare provider, and a comprehensive exercise plan will all help you to slim down in your 40s, but what you eat will have the biggest overall effect. That doesn’t mean you can’t eat the foods you love. But you may need to make some changes.

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