Why Is Weight Loss More Challenging After 40?

Sep 01, 2023
Why Is Weight Loss More Challenging After 40?
Does it seem that the older you get, the harder it is to lose weight? It’s not just your imagination — and it’s not your fault. Here’s what you need to know about the unique challenges of shedding pounds after 40.

Your body changes as you age, and you can’t do much about it. You can take preventive steps to preserve your heart health and save your joints, but certain things are out of your control, and some of those factors make it tough to lose weight at will.

When you hit a weight-loss plateau or, worse, can’t make the scale budge, you may be facing the age-old problem of age. 

We see this time and again here at Prestige Primary Care, and we can help. Dr. Asif Aziz and our team offer medically supervised weight loss that helps you address the obstacles to fat loss, including those you can’t control, like your age. Here’s how age affects your weight loss efforts and how to lose weight despite growing older. 


To understand why weight loss after 40 is tough, you need to understand the role of genetics. Your genetic makeup influences weight gain and loss regardless of age, but you may notice it more as you get older. 

We often think of genes as the chemical markers determining our height and eye color, but we rarely remember that genes dictate our bodily functions, including how we respond to hunger. 

For example, for many people, the MC4R gene kicks into action after a meal, signaling to your brain that you’re full. But many people have one of 300 mutations of the MC4R gene, so they don’t feel satiated after a meal. 

If you feel hungry all the time, this may be the reason, and if you’re over 40, you may have difficulty shedding extra pounds for reasons we explain next.


If you think of your metabolism as your body’s engine and calories as its fuel, you’ll have a good picture of metabolism’s role in weight loss — you eat, your body burns the fuel, and the system remains status quo. If you stop burning the fuel, it builds up in your body as fat. Diets and exercise help you balance the equation.

However, once you reach 40, your metabolism slows down and burns calories more slowly, so if you keep eating as you did when you were younger, you’ll gain weight more easily and find it difficult to lose.


Hormonal changes are a natural part of aging, and they can significantly affect your weight. 

For instance, insulin resistance often increases with age, triggering higher insulin levels in your body and promoting fat storage. 

Another example is cortisol, the stress hormone, which rises and causes your body to hang onto fat, especially in your belly. 

Menopausal women have a tough time losing weight because they experience a drop in estrogen levels. 

Dr. Aziz can help you balance your hormones and teach you how to manage insulin and cortisol levels. 


Adulting is stressful — parenting, taking care of aging parents, dealing with job pressures, meeting deadlines, resolving conflicts, driving in traffic, processing looming world news, and maintaining relationships. Stress triggers a defensive response in your body, namely cortisol.

Cortisol plays an important role when you’re in danger by increasing your alertness and preparing your body to fight or flee. However, too much cortisol in your system for prolonged periods does more harm than good. 

First, it stimulates your appetite, so you eat too much and gain weight. It also wrecks your sleep quality, which messes up your metabolism — a recipe for weight gain.


You may have good intentions, but if you’re honest, you’d admit that scheduling a workout during your busy schedule is tough. However, given your slower, over-40 metabolism, exercise is more important now than when you were 20. 

You don’t have to run a marathon, but you should shoot for getting in at least 30 minutes a day of something. Walking around your office building or around the perimeter of your kid’s soccer field as they play count. If possible, mix in some resistance exercises that build up your muscles — we explain why in the next section.

Decreased muscle

Your muscle mass decreases as you age — it’s a fact of life. Men and women both lose testosterone, a key hormone in muscle building. Since muscle burns calories even at rest, when you lose muscle, it’s harder to lose fat.

Weightlifting is ideal for building lean, fat-burning muscle tissue, but resistance bands and exercises that use your body weight, like squats and push-ups, can do the trick, too.

How to lose weight after 40

Given all the after-40 weight loss obstacles we outlined above, going it alone could be tough. Our medically supervised weight loss program is based on proven treatments and your unique needs. Dr. Aziz customizes your weight loss journey to target specific obstacles that hinder you from shedding pounds. Whether you have a health condition, a hormone imbalance, a hunger problem, cravings, or injuries, he can help. 

To learn more about our personalized weight loss program, book an appointment online, or call 972-945-8856.