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Weight Loss After 35

Author: Medifast California

July 21, 2017

Weight Loss After 35

Author: Medifast California

July 21, 2017

Many people older than the age of 35 or 40 like to warn their younger friends and family members about an impending weight gain once they hit their mid-30’s. This, they warn, is due to a slowing of their metabolism that will make it very easy to gain weight and nearly impossible to lose it.

While a lot of this is fear-mongering, similar to how we scare pregnant women with painful birth stories, there is something to be said for it. Many people complain about gaining weight as they get older. The research has actually shown that as we age, our metabolic rate declines, which can cause weight gain and difficulty losing weight. This occurs for several reasons.
Weight Loss After 35

  1. Aging is linked with a decrease in fat free mass, which can cause the body to burn less energy.
  2. Body fat increases with age. This tends to accumulate in the abdomen, which is directly connected with the liver and can cause changes in how sugars and fats are broken down. In addition, fat tissue burns fewer calories than muscle. As body fat increases and muscle mass decreases, the body burns fewer calories.
  3. Appetite tends to decline over time, which also decreases a person’s energy, calorie and nutrient intake.
  4. Hormonal changes, such as how the body processes and deals with sugar can also affect weight and metabolic rate. In addition, hormone changes associated with perimenopause in women can impact a woman’s metabolism and cause her to gain weight.
  5. Genetics can also play a role. If you have a family history of diabetes, hormonal changes or obesity, you may be more likely to also suffer from those diseases.
  6. Habits, such as physical exercise and nutrition, are significantly involved in aging. Maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly can help keep the metabolism working effectively.

Even though many of these changes are often associated with being much older than 35, they do begin as you move into adulthood. The good news is that making an effort at an early age to start living a healthier lifestyle can help to prevent many age-associated health and weight problems. Getting into shape after age 35 may be more difficult, but it is possible. It just may take more time and dedication than it did in your teens and early 20s.

Caloric Intake

No matter how old you are, whether that means you are 25, 35 or 45, losing weight means that you need to take in fewer calories than you use during the day. The calorie level that worked when you were younger may not be the most appropriate number of calories to eat as you get older. That is why it is important to periodically reassess your calorie needs when are losing weight. Age and weight are two big factors that go into determining your basal metabolic rate and calorie needs.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) guidelines, women over the age of 35 on average only require around 1,800 calories per day if they lead a sedentary lifestyle, or up to 2,200 calories if they are more active. Men would require around 2,400 to 2,800 calories per day, depending on their activity level.

It is important to realize that these numbers are estimates only, and are based on people with average height and weight. For woman, this means a height of 5’3” and weight of 126 pounds, and not pregnant or breastfeeding. For men, it means 5’10” and 154 pounds.

People of different heights, weights, body shapes, medical conditions and activity levels may have different calorie requirements, so it is important to speak with your doctor about your specific situation.

No matter how many calories you are eating, it is important that they come from healthy sources. Your diet should mostly consist of fruits, vegetables, lean protein, low fat dairy, and healthy fats (avocado, olive oil and nuts) in moderation. Eating processed carbohydrates and simple sugars should be avoided, or at least minimized.


Physical activity can help maintain and increase lean muscle mass, which can improve your basal metabolic rate. For someone who is new to exercise, it is important to start slow and check in with your doctor if you have any health concerns. If any of the following apply to you, it is especially important to get in to see the doctor and have a physical exam.

  • You have a family history of heart disease before age 55 in men and age 65 in women
  • You are a smoker or have recently quit
  • You don’t or haven’t exercised regularly
  • You are overweight or obese
  • You have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, prediabetes or diabetes

In most cases, having these conditions does not mean that you can’t exercise; it just means that you may need some guidance from your doctor so that you can do it safely and effectively.

In general, however, it is best to start with a low-intensity activity, like walking, swimming or yoga. There are also many things you can do over the course of your day to increase the number of calories you burn:

  1. Take the stairs instead of an elevator or escalator
  2. Walk to the store, or whenever possible
  3. Park in the far end of the parking lot, instead of close to the door
  4. Go outside and play with the kids
  5. While at work, get up from your desk and walk to speak with coworkers, instead of using the phone
  6. Park and walk to pick up the kids from school or their activities, instead of just driving up to the door

Sometimes, just making a bunch of small changes throughout the day is enough to burn extra calories and trigger healthier behaviors. As time goes on and your body adjusts to the new activities, you can start thinking about increasing the intensity or adding in some strength training exercises as well.

Quit Smoking

Many smokers hesitate to quit smoking because they are afraid that quitting will make them gain weight. And while that is sometimes true, quitting smoking is crucial to staying healthy as you age. Quitting smoking is associated with many health benefits, including reduction of the risk of heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.

Despite this, some research has also shown that quitting smoking is associated with slightly more weight gain with aging than non-smokers. The study found that around 75% of people who quit smoking will put on weight, with around 10% of people gaining close to 30 pounds. However, that doesn’t mean that you should continue smoking in order to keep the weight off. Smoking and using tobacco has been linked with many serious health complications.

Weight gain after quitting may minimize some of the health benefits that come along with stopping, so it is especially important to be diligent about preventing weight gain in the months after making the decision to quit smoking. Your doctor may be able to point you in the direction of some useful support groups or resources to help.

Stress Reduction

Who isn’t stressed out these days? Between taking care of children, helping parents, working and trying to find balance between all of this and taking care of yourself, it’s no wonder that many people report feeling very stressed out. Stress isn’t just feeling overwhelmed; if not managed well, it has the potential for serious health complications. Stress has been linked with sleep problems, overeating, alcohol abuse, tobacco use and not exercising. All of these can also worsen weight problems.

Managing stress is important when trying to lose weight. Light exercise, connecting with family or friends, working on hobbies and taking time for yourself are all healthy ways to help manage your stress.


It used to almost be a badge of honor to be able to get by without sleeping. Recently though, a lot of attention has been paid to the need for quality sleep and what happens to your body (and mental state) when you don’t get it. There have been numerous studies looking at the link between sleep and obesity, and several have found an association between people who sleep fewer hours at night and increased weight.

It is believed that sleep deprivation changes the hormones that control the hunger center in the brain. These hormones cause you to feel full and satisfied after eating. If that hormone isn’t working properly, such as with lack of sleep, people tend to eat more and make more unhealthy choices. In addition, feeling tired from lack of sleep makes it less likely that you’ll be physically active.

So, go ahead and prioritize sleep. In addition to feeling and functioning better, it may help you lose weight and stay healthier in the long-run.

Tips for Weight Loss After 35

Losing weight after 35, though it may be different than losing weight in your 20s, isn’t impossible. Here are some specific tips that you can use to help you lose weight:

  • Focus on lean protein. Protein helps you to feel full. Eating a diet rich in low-fat or lean proteins helps you avoid snacking on unhealthy foods because you feel hungry.
  • Eat a lot of fiber. Fiber also fills you up. It also helps your intestines and digestive system work more efficiently. Eating carbohydrates that are high in fiber keeps you feeling full and satisfied, and also helps your body process the sugars found in that food. For example, it is much better to eat an apple than drink apple juice, even if it is 100% juice. The apple also contains fiber, as opposed to the juice, which is just sugar and water with all the healthy stuff filtered out.
  • Load up on veggies. Find ways to add extra fruits and veggies to your regular meals. For example, throw veggies in your morning scrambled eggs. Instead of jam, try your peanut butter sandwich with sliced banana or apple. Or try roasting thin slices of beets or carrots and tossing with a little oil and sea salt instead of potato chips. This helps to fill you up and ensures that you are getting all of the nutrients that you need.
  • Drink water. Avoid all the sugar and calorie-laden drinks, like juices, sodas and fancy coffee drinks. They offer no nutritional value and are a big source of empty calories. Cutting them out completely can easily save you a few hundred calories each day, especially if you drink a lot of them. Drink water, unsweetened iced tea or coffee instead. If switching to water cold turkey is too difficult, try seltzer water with some fruit for flavor instead.
  • Get help! Let’s face it; weight loss can be confusing. Knowing what to eat and what to avoid, how much to eat and when to eat it… There are a ton of questions that can come up, especially in the beginning. While there are an abundance of diet plans available, it is important to find one that is not only effective, but safe. For example, Medifast Products and Programs have been recommended by over 20,000 doctors since 1980. Their program is backed up by years of clinical research, so you know that you aren’t just following some fad diet.
  • Pay attention to portion sizes. Not watching your portion sizes is a major way to accidently eat way more calories than you intend. You should always check the nutrition label to figure out what a single serving of that food is, and how many calories and grams of fat and sugar it contains. For example, a single serving of peanut butter is usually 2 tablespoons, which contains around 200 calories, depending on the brand. If you aren’t paying attention to your portion sizes, you could easily eat two or three servings, meaning that you’ll eat an additional 400 to 600 calories without even realizing it.

The Bottom Line

People over the age of 35 have unique challenges when it comes to weight loss. From hormonal changes to high stress levels to a changing metabolism, losing weight as you get older is very different than losing weight as a teenager or young adult. Making ongoing positive lifestyle changes not only help you lose the weight, but helps you feel healthier and stronger.


Shimokata H. and Kuzuya F. Aging, basal metabolic rate, and nutrition. (July 1993). Nihon Ronen Igakkai Zasshi. 30 (7): 572-6.

Slowing metabolism when I hit 30? (January 24, 3014). Retrieved from

Estimated calorie needs by age, gender, and physical activity level. Retrieved from

J Audrain-McGovern, and NL Benowitz. Cigarette smoking, nicotine and body weight. July 2011. Clinical Pharmacology Therapies. 90(1): 164-168.

Sleep. Retrieved from

About the Author:

Medifast California
The team at Medifast California
The team at Medifast California is committed to practicing what they preach. Experts in nutrition, health, counseling and exercise, they have the experience and tools to offer the support you need when you need it!

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