Weight loss for men over 40 (how to lose stubborn belly fat).

man drinking coffee

Weight loss for men over 40 doesn’t need to be complicated.

I’m about to turn 41 years old and I realized I can no longer (or want to) do some of the things I used to.

  • I can no longer (or want to) spend an hour a day 6 days per week in the gym.
  • The same goes for eating fast food at 2 am after beers with my buddies and expecting to have a lean, strong, energetic body.

I have less time, more stress, and different responsibilities that make exercise and nutrition different than when I was in my twenties and thirties.

My goals have also evolved. Instead of working out and eating primarily for aesthetics. I now do it for longevity, injury prevention, and general health.

Ok, you caught me. I still do it for aesthetics. I mean, who doesn’t want to look good naked. But that is no longer the top priority. Having a capable body that I am confident can do things in real life is more important.

Fitness and nutrition have also become a way I socialize and connect with others. Hours in the gym have been traded for meaningful movement like flag football, rock climbing, and hikes with friends. Eating chicken, broccoli, and rice even on the weekends has been traded for a nice meal with friends at a new restaurant with a glass of wine or whisky.

Today’s article was written for me. As well as other men in their forties that aspire to: 

  • Lose weight… but also want to go out for date night with your partner to enjoy some good food and drinks.
  • Have a lean and strong body… but also want the ability to have the occasional slice of pizza with your kids.
  • Learn how to balance work, health, and relationships

Is weight management even important for men over 40?

Weight gain is strongly related to chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Both of these have been linked to lower testosterone levels in middle-aged men and older. 

But for most, if you lose weight your risk for both decreases and your testosterone levels can increase. In observational studies and a meta-analysis, the larger the weight loss, the greater the increase in overweight and obese patients. However, it should be noted that 9% to 34% of total body weight was needed to see increases. 

This doesn’t mean you need to research, ‘top 10 foods that boost testosterone.’ As you’ll see in the article, getting good at the basics: Sleep, regular exercise, and maintaining a healthy weight through a healthy diet are the most important factors in weight management in testosterone for men over 40.

Weight loss for men over 40. It’s not your metabolism

As we age our bodies change, our motivations change, and our time, stress, and activity levels all change. But our metabolisms do NOT change as much as we think.

Many of my clients come to me wanting to lose weight and keep it off as they get older. Often with the belief that it’s getting harder because their metabolism is slowing down or even broken.

I’ve always thought that if your metabolism did slow as you aged the rate at which it did would have to be pretty significant to affect weight. Plus, at what age does it actually start slowing down and why would it do this?

This has left me wondering how much the metabolism slows down (or even if it does at all) as we get older.

Turns out, not that much.

A recent study of over 6,500 people, aged 8 days to 95 years old has shown that when you account for body size, your metabolism does not change all that much from 20 to 60 years old. And after 60, it only slows down by about 0.7%.

To put that in perspective if your metabolic rate is 2,000 calories and it slows down by 0.7% you’re looking at a 14 calorie difference from 60 to 61.

It is true that leaner individuals tend to have a “faster metabolism” and the heavier you are the more calories you need to sustain yourself (the more calories you will burn). But after accounting for those things – metabolism doesn’t change much.

So then WTF is going on as we get older? Why does it feel like it’s harder to lose or keep off the weight?

1- We become less active as we get older. Work obligations, time commitments, stress, and less sleep can make it more difficult for us to move as much as we used to. Thus, using fewer calories.

✅ Solution: Walk, play, and create a meaningful movement routine. Whatever you have to do to move more during the day.

2- We eat more than we think. More calorie-dense fast food meals, restaurant dining, snaccidents, or stress and emotional eating have us eating more calories than we need. Plus, many of us never learned about nutrition growing up. Or we never learned skills that complement eating well consistently.

Solution: Take small steps to set up a diet that works for you and your lifestyle.

3- We don’t resistance train properly (or at all). Muscle is important for our metabolism and to build muscle we may want to train with progressive overload. This doesn’t mean we need to spend hours in the gym 6 days per week. But it does mean we need to train smarter.

✅ Solution: Learning the fundamentals of basic strength training and building routines that make sense for your lifestyle and time commitments.

How can a man over 40 lose belly fat? (How do you get rid of belly fat after 40)

A man over 40 loses weight and belly fat the same way someone in their twenties, thirties, fifties, or any other age loses weight and belly fat…

By creating a consistent calorie deficit over time and eating adequate protein to support their activity levels. There are a number of ways you can do this.

Restricting a macronutrient or food group

How diets work

This is not my favorite method but it’s worked well for a number of clients of mine

Restricting a macronutrient is what we could call a “diet.” The Keto diet restricts carbs, a vegan diet restricts animal protein, and the Paleo diet restricts grains, legumes, and dairy. 

In the image above you create a calorie deficit by restricting a particular food group. Thus, reducing your overall calorie intake. If you don’t replace those calories and it puts you in a calorie deficit you may lose weight. 

For example, if you eat on average 2,000 calories per day and your carbohydrates for the day include:

  • Breakfast: 2 slices of toast (200 calories)
  • Lunch: 1 apple (80 calories)
  • Dinner: 1 cup of rice (200 calories)
  • Total calories: 480

If you restricted carbohydrates you would decrease your calorie intake by 480 calories. This would now have you eating 1,620 calories per day. This puts you in a calorie deficit and you may start losing weight. 

Skipping a meal or intermittent fasting (creating eating windows)

Intermittent fasting 16/8

If you currently eat breakfast, stop, and don’t replace the calories. You may lose weight provided you create a consistent calorie deficit over time.

For example, if you eat 2,000 calories per day to maintain your weight and your first meal of the day includes the following:

  • Protein: 3 slices eggs (210 calories)
  • Carbs: 1 apple (80 calories)
  • Fat: Avocado and slice of cheese (300 calories)
  • Total calories: 590 

By skipping this meal you’ve reduced your total calorie intake by 590 calories. You are now averaging 1,410 calories per day. You’re now in a calorie deficit and you may start losing weight.

Keep the same diet but eat less of it

1% better

You reduce serving sizes at one or more meals. Skipping snacks could be another way to eat less of what you currently do. The idea is to be 1% better. Simple swaps and adjustments can go a long way.

For example, if you eat on average 2,000 calories per day to maintain your weight and every day for lunch you grab a burger and fries from a favorite spot down the street.

  • Cheeseburger (with bun): 350 calories
  • Fries (medium): 340 calories
  • Diet Coke: 0 calories
  • Total calories: 690 

And let’s say you have 2 glasses of wine each night as well.

  • Wine: 240 calories
  • Total calories (plus lunch): 930

If you made the following 1% better swaps you would create a calorie deficit.

  • Hamburger (with bun): 250 calories
  • Fries (small): 220
  • Diet Coke: 0 calories
  • Total calories: 470 (-220 from your previous lunch)

Now those 2 glasses of wine turn into 1.

  • Wine: 120 calories
  • Total calories (plus lunch): 590

By making these small adjustments you’ve put yourself in a 340 calorie deficit. You may start losing weight.

Improve food quality (this usually leads to less calorie density)

Instead of a caramel macchiato and bagel with cream cheese, you now have water, apple, and scrambled eggs. Whole foods will usually be less calorie dense and more filling. Thus, helping to create a consistent calorie deficit over time.

Old meal:

  • Caramel macchiato (grande): 220 calories
  • Bagel with cream cheese: 400 calories
  • Total calories: 620

New meal:

  • Apple: 80 calories
  • Eggs(2): 140 calories
  • Spinach and onion: 50 calories
  • Water: 0 calories
  • Total calories: 270 calories

If you average 2,000 calories per day and are maintaining your weight you’ve now created a 350 calorie deficit and you may start losing weight.

You can also do things, such as tracking calories or macronutrients, using your hands to estimate portion sizes, or moving your body more by increasing steps or exercise.

Just keep in mind that all of these methods are tools that you use to do a job. You’re not married to a particular one and you don’t have to join a “diet cult” ( I see you Keto people). Any one of them can help you lose weight and belly fat if they help you create a calorie deficit. 

Is it hard for men over 40 to lose weight (and belly fat)?

Yes and no.

Weight loss is very simple in theory but more difficult in practice. Create a consistent calorie deficit over time, move your body in ways you enjoy, and eat enough protein to support your activity levels and muscle mass.

Do these things consistently and you’ll be very successful.

But less time, more stress, and more responsibilities can make eating balanced plates and exercise more difficult to do. For example, I’ve had a number of conversations with my men’s group and clients about the deep stress and burden of being a provider for their families.

Plus, many men in their forties deal with ridiculous stereotypes that on the surface may not seem to impact us but they do.

  • Eat like a man
  • Man up
  • Grow a pair
  • Tough it out
  • Walk it off

Phrases and expectations like this have been subtly ingrained in men from a young age. Others are more prevalent as we get older. Being vulnerable and expressing feelings can still (unfortunately) be viewed as signs of weakness or less masculine.

These messages and internal dialogue can promote a belief system in men that do not support their mental or physical health:

  • Men are not supposed to burden people with their issues. They’re supposed to figure it out on their own.
  • Many men don’t believe they’re supposed to open up to people. Specifically with other men.
  • Men are not supposed to emotionally eat or stress about how their body looks.

And it’s because of stereotypes and belief systems like this that have men struggling to open up, ask for help, especially when it comes to diet and exercise. 

Men are not supposed to be limited by pain, chronic illness, or disability. We’re supposed to rub some dirt on whatever is hurting us physically, emotionally, or spiritually –  And to continue marching on like a good soldier.

Snoop Dog shaking head

For fucks sake I just fell into this trap myself. I recently tore my ACL playing in a football game. Instead of coming out of the game and getting it looked at I tried to ‘tough it out.”

I continued to play on it. Not just for that game but for months. It took the knee going out on me four more times before I finally went to get an MRI… Dumb 🤦‍♂️.

What is the best diet for men over 40?

Balanced plate

There is no best diet for men over 40. There’s no best diet for anyone. 

Most diets and healthy nutrition guidelines revolve around the same basic practices. But they’re really boring and don’t sell magazines or books so we overlook them.

  • Eating fewer processed foods and more whole foods is in your best interest
  • Finding ways to eat more veggies is a good idea
  • Eating protein is good for our health and physical performance. Animal or plant-based is a personal preference.
  • Understanding hunger and fullness is important
  • Learning about calorie balance and energy balance will help you manage your weight

There is room for all types of foods in your diet. The super “clean” ones and the “not so clean” ones – I see you pizza 🍕. Simply understanding that calories play a role in this is important.

If your goal is to lose body fat and weight every single diet can help you do this, provided it helps you create a calorie deficit.

Focus on eating mostly balanced plates that meet the calorie needs for your goals 80% of the time and you’ll do very well for yourself. 

What is the best workout for men over 40?

Surprise surprise. There is no best workout for men over 40.

Instead of the best workout, I want to encourage you to use this two-pronged approach to creating sustainable fitness habits. 

Meaningful movement and walking

Find ways to move your body outside of the gym and traditional training. It won’t take much motivation because you already enjoy it. Plus, many of these give you the opportunity to improve social relationships and connect with others.

  • If you enjoy kettlebells? Awesome, do that.
  • Like hiking? cool, do more of that.
  • Love playing rec sports? Sounds good, do that.
  • Yoga is your jam. Sweet, do yoga.
  • Just like to take walks with your significant other? Double down on it.

However, you like to move your body to do that.

Resistance/strength train with progressive overload

We know that as we age and become less active it can be harder to maintain lean muscle mass. Things like sarcopenia come into play. Because of this, strength training becomes more important. 

Strength training slows down muscle loss as well as helps to maintain insulin sensitivity (which helps regulate blood sugar and prevent Type 2 diabetes).

Build workouts around compound movements that emphasize the following movement patterns:

Here’s a sample workout I’ve created for some of my busy clients who can only strength train two times per week.

Day 1: Full Body

Day 2: Full Body

Spend some time on mobility

You may be feeling a little stiff or tighter than normal as you age. Aches and pains are inevitable. Mobility is not my forte but I do have a few helpful resources and friends that can help you out here.

Weight loss for men over 40. Wrapping it all up by focusing on the basics

Men in their forties waste a lot of time worrying about “the 10 best foods that will boost your testosterone.” All while forgetting to take care of the boring basic stuff that matters most.

  • Get quality sleep by having a regular wake and sleep schedule
  • Move your body in ways you enjoy. Whatever that may be
  • Resistance train with progressive overload at least twice per week
  • Eat mostly balanced plates that help you maintain a healthy weight
  • Find ways to regularly de-stress and practice self-care (even if just 5-minutes)
  • Express love and gratitude on a regular basis

If you’re having a tough time finding the motivation to get started try asking yourself what your life would be like if you wear the healthiest version of yourself.

Find a quiet space all to yourself.

Close your eyes and visualize a day in the life of the future you. The one that has accomplished their health and fitness goals. The healthiest, fittest, most badass version of yourself.

Below are some prompts to get you thinking:

  • What is different about the first few minutes of your morning after waking up?
  • It’s time to eat breakfast. What does that look like? How do you feel when eating it?
  • What is different about your day-to-day? How do you feel, what are you doing, what is your mood like?
  • What will be different about my life?
  • Who will be affected, and how?
  • How will I feel, how will I change as a person?
  • How will achieving my goal matter?

Thank you for reading. You are appreciated.

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Resources and gratitude:

Thank you to Examine.com and Precision Nutrition for the wonderful articles I used for research.

Grossmann M. Low testosterone in men with type 2 diabetes: significance and treatment. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2011 Aug;96(8):2341-53. doi: 10.1210/jc.2011-0118. Epub 2011 Jun 6. PMID: 21646372.

Tajar A, Forti G, O’Neill TW, Lee DM, Silman AJ, Finn JD, Bartfai G, Boonen S, Casanueva FF, Giwercman A, Han TS, Kula K, Labrie F, Lean ME, Pendleton N, Punab M, Vanderschueren D, Huhtaniemi IT, Wu FC; EMAS Group. Characteristics of secondary, primary, and compensated hypogonadism in aging men: evidence from the European Male Ageing Study. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2010 Apr;95(4):1810-8. doi: 10.1210/jc.2009-1796. Epub 2010 Feb 19. PMID: 20173018.

Hall SA, Esche GR, Araujo AB, Travison TG, Clark RV, Williams RE, McKinlay JB. Correlates of low testosterone and symptomatic androgen deficiency in a population-based sample. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2008 Oct;93(10):3870-7. doi: 10.1210/jc.2008-0021. Epub 2008 Jul 29. PMID: 18664536; PMCID: PMC2579652.

Grossmann M, Matsumoto AM. A Perspective on Middle-Aged and Older Men With Functional Hypogonadism: Focus on Holistic Management. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2017 Mar 1;102(3):1067-1075. doi: 10.1210/jc.2016-3580. PMID: 28359097; PMCID: PMC5477803.

Corona G, Rastrelli G, Monami M, Saad F, Luconi M, Lucchese M, Facchiano E, Sforza A, Forti G, Mannucci E, Maggi M. Body weight loss reverts obesity-associated hypogonadotropic hypogonadism: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Eur J Endocrinol. 2013 May 2;168(6):829-43. doi: 10.1530/EJE-12-0955. PMID: 23482592.

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