Before I provide you with some guidelines with a diet plan for losing weight as a 40-year-old man, let me provide you with some things that you must avoid.
With so many diet plans out there it’s easy to fall for the latest fad or gimmick, but those diet plans never work over the long term and always get you to do one of the following that will lead to failure:
Mistake #1 – Going too low in carbohydrates
A lot of popular diet plans always get you to go low carb, over the years carbs have been given a bad reputation for putting on weight.
It’s not the amount of carbs that you eat that cause weight gain though, it’s the total number of calories coming from protein, carbs and fat that counts.
Exceed you daily totals coming from protein, carbs or fat and you’ll put on weight.
Cutting out carbs is a bad idea for men over 40 because they are needed to fuel your workouts, keep you feeling full and keep testosterone levels in the healthy range.
Have you ever been on a no carb diet for a long period of time?
It’s NOT a pleasant experience, it can also cause mood swings as your body craves carbs to feel good and keep serotonin levels high.
Avoid junk carbohydrates and stick to complex sources such as oats, brown rice, pasta, sweet potatoes, vegetables etc.
Mistake #2 – Going too low in fat
Remember back in the 80’s when there used to be a craze for low fat everything?
When on a diet approximately 15-20% of total calories should be coming from fat, but there’s no need to eat next to no fat.
Fats are needed for testosterone production, (especially important for men over 40) and a whole lot of processes in the body.
Cutting down on fat too much is a mistake.
Stick to polyunsaturated fat sources such as extra virgin olive oil, avocados, fatty fish, eggs, nuts & seeds etc. But some saturated fats naturally found in steak for example are great for testosterone production.
Mistake #3 – Going too high or too low on protein
Diets that have you eating tons of extra protein or chugging down protein shakes to lose fat are a recipe for disaster too.
Protein has its place, but too much of it will get stored as fat.
Protein shakes aren’t necessary to lose fat. The supplement industry has done a good job convincing everyone they need to be drinking protein shakes with meals to help burn fat.
A moderate protein consumption of 30-40% of total calories is the best approach, or approximately 0.7- 1 gram of protein per pound of lean body weight per day.
This is obtainable from whole foods; no supplements are needed. Protein is thermogenic, meaning that your body will burn calories just by processing it.
So, it makes sense to get adequate amounts.
Again, balance of protein, carbs and fat is best.
Stick to lean sources of protein, chick breast, eggs, fish, turkey, ground beef etc.
Mistake #4 – Going too low in calories
What? I thought this was supposed to be a diet plan for a 40-year-old male to lose fat.
Yes, that’s correct and going too low in calories can have the opposite effect of what you want to achieve.
Drastic calorie reductions can and will cause your body to hold onto its fat reserves. We have a mechanism within the body and if it thinks a famine is around the corner it holds onto fat more readily.
Going too low in calories not only won’t work but it’s the worst way to lose fat over the long term.
How many times have you severely restricted calories only to hate every minute of it?
You feel starved and only have so much willpower.
Then you give up and go back to your old eating habits, putting any weight lost back on in a hurry!
Then the cycle continues…
Avoid this approach.
What to do instead
The reason I haven’t just provided you with a diet plan is because you need some understanding of the individual components, what and why we are doing them…
The bottom line for losing fat is you need to be eating LESS calories than what your body burns per day (the BMR calories it uses to sustain its weight).
No amount of messing about with protein, carbs or fat will matter if you’re consuming too many calories daily.
Aim to lose 1-1½ pounds of fat per week – the perfect amount to make this sustainable and to make sure the weight loss you experience is all FAT and not muscle & fat.
For this to happen you should be eating 300-500 calories less than your BMR per day and doing some form of resistance training (more on that later).
A good starting point for your BMR is to multiply your bodyweight in pounds by 10.
So, if you weigh 200 pounds, you will need approximately 2000 calories per day to lose fat. This is highly individual though and depends on lifestyle and activity levels.
For more details, see the diet section my popular course, Ripped Abs Over 40.
Protein, carbs, and fat
From your weight loss calories, ensure you are getting adequate protein, generous carbs and the remainder of calories coming from fat.
You need ALL the macronutrients to feel your best and especially when on a diet, keep you feeling full.
It was once thought that eating little and often i.e., 4-6 small meals throughout the day was the best route to fat loss, but this approach is flawed.
Eating little and often has no additional benefits for fat loss.
Every time you eat, you spike insulin levels, making it harder to lose fat. Whether you get your total daily calories in 4 meals per day, or 2 meals and a few snacks doesn’t matter, what does matter is the total amount of calories you consume over the entire day.
Intermittent fasting has huge benefits and one of the best ways to lose fat
When we don’t eat for a long period of time and then introduce lots of calories into our systems, growth hormone and testosterone are elevated which is exactly what us men over 40 needs.
Not only that it makes sticking to the diet a lot easier because you get to eat bigger meals later in the day, keeping you feeling fuller and making it more difficult to exceed your daily totals.
Studies on intermittent fasting for fat loss are very positive.
Instead, we offset and stave off appetite by eating a piece of fruit and black coffee in the morning, then saving our first big meal until around 1pm.
This makes the diet very easy to stick to.
It also takes your concentration to new levels; how many times have you felt sluggish in the morning after eating a big breakfast?
Here’s an example of a diet template for you to try
7 am – piece of fruit & black coffee
1 pm – 100 g pasta / tuna & big salad
5 pm – 200g potatoes / steak & lots of veg
7 pm – 50 g Greek yogurt
A diet like this works like gangbusters for fat loss! But will probably need to be tailored to fit within your personal daily calorie intake.
If you just go on a diet like the one above you will lose fat, but a good proportion of that will be lean muscle.
The importance of resistance training
When we lose muscle our metabolism slows making it harder to lose fat. Muscle is important for fat loss and metabolism.
Unfortunately, if you aren’t strength training, you aren’t building or sustaining muscle mass which is a big part of the fat loss equation.
You need to give your body a reason to hold onto its muscle mass and strength training using compound movements is the way to do that.
As a man over 40, 2-3 resistance workout sessions are all you need for fat loss and to ensure that you’re losing primarily fat, not muscle.
If you want a complete course that covers everything from losing fat to building muscle without resorting to boring diets then check out my popular course, Ripped Abs Over 40.