If you're like many women over 40, you've probably noticed that it's become a lot easier to gain a few pounds than to lose them. The foods that you ate without care in your 20s and 30s now stick to your body like glue, adding bulk to your midsection. The good news: The solution to a slim, firm body at 40-plus is no farther than your fridge. Research shows that, when combined with a little regular exercise, what you eat and when you eat it are your metabolic secret weapons for building muscle mass, the body's prime calorie-burning tissue and a key driver of your metabolism.
After suffering for many years with everything from bullying to bulimia, Lady Gaga dropped 25 to 30 pounds with a low-glycemic index diet. Gaga is said to have followed the 5-Factor Diet, only eating healthy foods from five categories – healthy fats, fiber, "low-glycemic" carbohydrates, protein and sugarless drinks. (The glycemic index ranks foods by the speed at which they raise blood sugar levels as they get digested.) She avoided highly-processed meats, fried foods, foods high in saturated fat (like butter, ice cream and desserts), simple carbohydrates (including white bread and white rice) and sugary treats. Her plan included eating five times per day, usually broken down into two meals and three light snacks. Lose Belly Fat in 3 Days with a Fasting Diet
“Hormonal changes in your 40s can affect your appetite hormones, ghrelin, and leptin,” explains Lauren Slayton, MS, RD, and founder of Foodtrainers. “Both supplemental vitamin D3 and extra lean protein can help keep your appetite under control.” Wild salmon fits the bill, boasting some of the highest levels of weight loss-aiding vitamin D3 as well as muscle-maintaining protein. Fitness for Women Over 50
Believe it or not, it may be the most important meal of the day as far as metabolism (and weight loss) is concerned. Breakfast eaters lose more weight than breakfast skippers do, according to studies. "Your metabolism slows while you sleep, and it doesn't rev back up until you eat again," explains Barbara Rolls, Ph.D., professor of nutrition at Penn State University and an author of The Volumetrics Weight-Control Plan. So if you bypass breakfast, your body won't burn as many calories until lunchtime as it could. That's why it's smart to start the day with a solid 300- to 400-calorie meal; it jump-starts your metabolism.
Though people are still talking about the lemon juice and cayenne crash diet that got her into Dreamgirls shape in 2006, these days Bey's much healthier detox method is eliminating all animal products from her diet. It's part of her trainer Marco Borges' 22 Days Nutrition plan—and the singer loves it so much, that she even teamed up with him to create a meal delivery service for the company. "There's no frankenfood," Borges tells us. "It's founded on the principle that it takes 21 days to make or break a habit. It's a plant-based diet designed to create lifelong habits that will empower you to live a healthier lifestyle, lose weight or to reverse serious health concerns." (Our social media editor, Kate Winick, tried it to great results.)