Losing weight over 40 is not easy. I know because I’m 53. But at age 48 I went on a transformation journey with a few ups and downs and A LOT of mistakes along the way.
But eventually in 2019 I managed to lose 20 pounds and compete and place in my first ever bikini competition age 52.
While lots of women my age were worrying about gaining excess body fat, I got to the leanest I’ve EVER been in my entire adult life.
Food plays a massive part in losing body fat.
And whilst a would admit I had a pretty heavy-duty training plan, without the right nutrition plan in place you can do hours and hours of exercise and not see any results.
Which is what I did until I finally had success in the Autumn of 2019.
So, I thought I would make a list of the kind of foods you should be eating if you’re over the age of 40, which will really help to get lean and work towards getting in the best shape of your life.
If you are interested in finding out what you SHOULD be eating in the form of meal planning and diet you can download my free nutrition guide and meal plan
1. Chicken breast
I would be screaming out loud if I was reading this because chicken is such a cliché isn’t it?
This list is NOT all about chicken breast and broccoli. But they are on the list – for VERY good reason! They are great weight loss foods.
Chicken breast is great for people that would like to lose weight because it’s high in protein. You can read more about protein in my blog the best diet for weight loss over 40
Protein is by far the most filling nutrient and eating a high-protein diet can help you burn up to 80–100 more calories per day.
Because chicken is one of the best forms of lean protein it keeps you satiated and will help to build and retain muscle. I am a big advocate of women over 40 building more muscle.
This is because over the years we have lost muscle which plays an important part in getting that ‘toned’ look but also helping us to reduce body fat and keep it off.
I have completely changed my body composition by building muscle, and I am not by any stretch ‘bulky’.
Muscle also is great for improving our metabolism.
It doesn’t mean you will get bulky. In fact, it’s quite difficult for women to get bulky without spending years lifting weights, eating in a calorie surplus or taking performance enhancing drugs.
Tofu is a great alternative to chicken and is a plant -based lean source of protein.
I am working towards having a more plant-based diet as it is better for the environment to eat less meat and animal food.
I want to promote this lifestyle as it’s not difficult and will really make a difference to the planet if everyone adopted the philosophy of eating more plant-based food.
Some sources of plant protein are highly processed so I wouldn’t recommend them over meat especially if you eat good quality meat.
But Tofu is soya bean curd and is made up of three ingredients: soybeans, water, and a coagulant. Soymilk, prepared with soybeans and water, is the precursor to tofu the way milk is the precursor to cheese.
Tofu doesn’t have exactly the same amount of protein as chicken and includes a bit more fat. 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of tofu has 12.6 g protein where as 100g chicken breast has 30.7g protein.
If you increase the amount of tofu to say 200g, do take into account that will be adding more calories because it is higher in fat than chicken breast. But still it’s a great source of non-animal protein.
Tofu is quite bland by itself, so I like to spice it with jerk seasoning or other spices and leave it overnight.
Eggs were once avoided for weight loss as it was thought that they were bad for you because of being high in cholesterol, but whole eggs have been having a resurgence more recently.
Personally, I eat 3 whole eggs a day.
They are a great source of protein particularly for women over 40 as we need a healthy amount of fat in our diet to ensure our hormones are balanced.
So, eating 2 or 3 eggs is good for you as long as you are not trying to reduce your cholesterol levels.
They are high in protein and fat and are very satiating. Eggs are also very nutrient dense and most of the nutrients are found in the yolks.
4. Low-fat yogurt
Low-fat yogurt is another great source of protein and as I described in point 1, we need to have a good amount of protein in our diets when we are trying to lose weight.
As a guide, you should have at least 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight, or 2.2 grams of protein per kg. But you can go higher than this.
Low fat yogurt is relatively low in calories too. Low fat yogurt is packed with calcium, which is great for bone health, a particular benefit to preventing osteoporosis.
High calcium foods such as low-fat yogurt, have been shown to increase body fat breakdown and preserve metabolism during dieting.
5. Leafy greens
There are lots of reasons that make green leafy veg perfect for a weight loss diet. They are low in calories, low in carbohydrates and loaded with fibre.
Examples of green leafy veg include kale, spinach, collard and cabbage.
Eating leafy greens is a great way to up the volume of your meals, without increasing the calories. Making your plate look as though there is a lot of food on it will benefit you by tricking your brain into thinking you are eating more.
Leafy greens are also very nutritious and high in vitamins, antioxidants and minerals, including calcium, which has been shown to aid fat burning in some studies.
6. Cruciferous Vegetables
Cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts.
Cruciferous veg are high in fibre and tend to be very filling.
Another benefit of these types of veg is that they contain a good amount of protein. They’re not as high in protein as chicken or beans and pulses but still high compared to most vegetables.
A combination of protein, fibre and density makes cruciferous vegetables a great way to fill up your plate and lose weight.
They’re also highly nutritious and contain cancer-fighting properties.
These are pretty old school, but I have been eating these a lot more lately. Potatoes get a bad rap, but they are actually really good for you as long as they are not fried for example.
Boiling or baking them is the best way to cook them to aid weight loss.
They are volumous so you can put a lot on your plate compared to other carbs like rice or pasta, making them more filling. They also contain resistance starch which keeps you fuller for longer.
What this means is that by eating white, boiled potatoes, you will naturally feel full and eat fewer other foods.
Sweet potatoes are also great sources of carbohydrate.
8. Beans and pulses
Beans and pulses are great for weight loss.
Some examples of beans and pulses include lentils, black beans, kidney beans and chickpeas.
Like tofu they are a great source of non-animal protein, but you do need to bear in mind that they also contain carbohydrate, so if you are watching your carbs you might not want to add potatoes, rice or pasta in on top of these.
These foods tend to be high in protein and fibre, which are two nutrients that have been shown to keep you satisfied. And like potato they also tend to contain some resistant starch.
Beans and pulses are great value for money, especially if you buy them dried and cook them yourself. They are easily stored and contain lots of minerals and vitamins.
I must admit I LOVE avocados and I could eat them every day. And it’s OK you CAN go ahead and eat them every day as part of your intake of fats.
I know some people dislike them because of the texture but if you do like them then great, they will be a good edition to your weight loss eating plan.
Good fats are good for you and as I have described in point 3 about eggs, women over 40 need good fats in our diet to balance our hormones. And if you are menopausal its essential that you have good fats in your diet and avocados are a great way to take in good fats.
Avocados can lower your cholesterol, quell hunger pangs and even reduce belly fat, so they are the perfect food to lose weight.
I like to chop them up with tomatoes, chilli peppers, spring onion and a splash of lime.
While most fruits are high in carbs, avocados are loaded with healthy fats.
Despite being mostly fat, avocados also contain a lot of water and fibre, and contain nutrients, including potassium.
10. Apple cider vinegar
I must admit for years I was a bit sceptical about apple cider vinegar even though my grandmother used to take a tablespoon with honey everyday back in the 1970s!
But I started adding it to food in the last year mainly to improve my digestion issues, as it’s a fermented food source which can help with improving digestion.
But on to weight loss.
Apple Cider Vinegar has become a very trendy ingredient for weight loss in the last few years and for good reason. This is because it has been proven to assist weight loss in the following ways:
- It can make you feel fuller after consuming one or two tablespoons
- Lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels
- Can help reduce food cravings
You can’t eat what you like and then take apple cider vinegar and expect to lose weight, but it certainly is a good supplement to at least try to support your weight loss journey.
Did you know there is a whole diet built around eating oatmeal? I am not advocating that you eat oats all day (well you can if you want to!) but they are definitely a great addition to your diet, and this is why:
- Oats are full of fibre and for this reason are very filling and keep you full for a long time – it does this by slowing down the emptying of the stomach and increasing production of the satiety hormone PYY.
- Oats are high in protein and protein is an important part of your diet as discussed in point 1 about chicken
- Oats can lower cholesterol
- Oats can lower your blood sugar
- Oats are packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants
I like to have something called ‘proats’ for breakfast; protein powder mixed with oats and cooked in a microwave or on a stove.
Another great breakfast is protein pancakes which are oats blended in a nutribullet with eggs, banana and you can also add protein powder and then cook them in the same way that you would cook standard pancakes.
You can also have oats as a snack at any time of day, just cook and add some nut butter or a sliced banana.
12. Chilli peppers
I have included chilli peppers because I’ll be honest, I LOVE them. But if you don’t love them don’t worry you don’t need to include these, but it’s great to know there is a weight loss benefit to eating chilli peppers.
There are some studies that have shown the chilli peppers can burn fat. Now that is not to say that you can eat what you like and include chilli peppers and lose weight, but they can be a good edition to your weight loss strategy.
So, what are the benefits?
Chili peppers and jalapenos contain a compound called capsaicin, which has been proven by some studies to boost metabolism and increase the burning of fat.
Chilli peppers have also been proven to reduce appetite and calorie intake.
13. Olive oil
Olive oil is packed with monounsaturated fatty acids. These fatty acids along with keeping your heart healthy and blood sugar levels stable also help assist weight loss.
Olive oil promotes the feeling of satiety. Although, the calorie count of olive oil is no lower than other fats, it is so much healthier than other fat sources like transfats and refined oil.
Olive oil is great for your gastrointestinal tract too. The monounsaturated fatty acids promote better mobility of food through your colon, aid smooth digestion and bowel movements.
A good digestion is key for weight loss. A poor digestion can hamper metabolism and take a toll on weight loss.
14. Nuts and nut butters
Although nuts are high in fat, they are very healthy. Nuts are another example of good fat like olive oil and avocado.
Nuts are also high in protein and protein is satiating, as I talked about earlier.
Studies have shown that regularly eating nuts as part of a weight loss diet can boost weight loss and improve cholesterol.
I like to eat nuts as a nut butter but I always by the type that is 100% nut with no palm oil or sugar which is much healthier.
I like peanut butter or almond butter, although there is some evidence to suggest that almonds are better for weight loss than peanuts.
15. Salmon and other oily fish
Eating oily fish (grilled not fried) like salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, pilchards and sardines can help you lose body fat.
This is because oily fish is packed with omega 3 fats, which turn ‘bad’ fat cells into healthy ones that burn calories.
Oily fish is great for women over 40 when the number of ‘good’ fat cells begins to decline and results in what we commonly call middle-age spread. Omega 3 fats are also good for alleviating menopause symptoms so it’s good to include oily fish in our diet at least twice a week.
Omega-3 fats, which are particularly abundant in oily fish, are known to have a host of other health benefits, from keeping your blood pressure at healthy levels to helping slow Alzheimer’s disease.
I’ll be honest I went off salmon a bit lately because I ate a ton of salmon leading up to my bikini competition in November 2019. But I have started putting salmon back into my eating plan just not every day but every other day. I like cooked or smoked salmon for breakfast, and it is really satisfying.
16. Chia seeds
Chia seeds are another of those good fats and a good plant source of Omega 3. As with oily fish not only do omega 3s help with weight loss they are also good for treating menopause symptoms.
You can make something called chia pudding with them, add a teaspoon into your oats and people doing a plant-based diet often replace eggs with chia seeds that have been soaked in water for baking for pancakes.
Berries such as blueberries, strawberries, blackberries and raspberries are generally lower in calories and sugar and therefore carbohydrates than other fruit.
Berries are packed with pectin, a type of soluble fibre that promotes a feeling of fullness. They also have the potential to help lower cholesterol and improve insulin resistance.
Berries, in contrast to some other fruits, contain extremely high levels of antioxidants. So, they have great nutritional value and can boost your immune system.
I promised you at the start I would give you my top 17 weight loss foods and I have shown why they are good for you. Much of the information is based on studies that have been undertaken so supported by evidence. I include every single one of these foods in my own diet.
When we are over 40 we often become more concerned about what we are putting into our body and wanting to become healthier and these foods do that. You don’t have to include evrything
Some of the processed foods that a marketed as diet foods are not healthy at all as it so important to eat a healthy wholefood diet that will be sustainable in the long term.
It is good to know why we are told to eat certain foods and I hope having read this article you have a better understanding about why some foods are deemed ‘good’ if you’re dieting.
If you want to read more about the best diet for weight loss for women over 40 you can read my article here.
Don’t forget you can download my free meal plan here which includes almost all of these foods and more.