Ditch the diet if you’re over 40!

Ditch the diet if you're over 40

When is this ‘miracle diet' bombardment ever going to stop?  Each new fad gets us excited with its promises to be the ‘ONE' that finally works.

It’s time to get off the roller coaster – it doesn't usually end well!  According to Zoe Harcombe, author of The Obesity Epidemic, 98% of people either don’t lose weight on a calorie controlled diet, or regain what they lost.

So throw away the diet books that have been gathering dust on your bookshelves. Stop reading the ‘Daily whatever' or the glossy mags that shame you into jumping on to the latest crazy diet.

These diets might have worked for you when you were younger, but none of them are sustainable now you're over 40.

The Hormone Connection

After the age of 40 (actually 35!), your hormones are pretty much in control of how you look, feel, think and behave. You are entering the peri-menopausal years which can last up to 17 years!  These years can be a real roller coaster for many women – fatigue, weight gain, mood swings, brain fog, anxiety, insomnia, PMS, hot flushes are just some of the common symptoms women can experience.

And if you diet during this time, suddenly restricting calories and nutrients, they are going to give you even more grief!


One of the main hormones involved is Cortisol, your stress hormone. That's because diets are stressful!  When you suddenly start to restrict calories and nutrients, your brain thinks there is a famine happening, alerting your adrenals to release cortisol to put your body into survival mode. Cortisol not only shuts down your metabolism to conserve energy, but it actively puts fat around your middle and sugar into your blood. All that sugar stimulates an insulin release (and insulin is your FAT STORING hormone!), and a blood sugar dip 
giving you powerful carb and sugar cravings that you can’t ignore.

So not only is your diet making you miserable, but it's also stressing out your body, slowing your metabolism (even more) and putting you into fat storing mode!

Then when you've had enough, or the diet ends, your metabolism is on its knees and the minute you start eating normally again, the weight piles back on…

If this wasn't bad enough, after 40 your stress resilience goes down. That means your body can't cope as well as it used to with extra stress. And if you've already got a lot of stress in your life, then it's going to be even harder to lose weight on a ‘stressful' diet.

So the answer is to move away from the whole diet mentality and focus on your hormone balance instead. If hormones are given the right nutrients, they are going to work for you, not against you, ramping up your metabolism so that you have lots of energy, balanced moods and sustainable weight loss.

All calories are not equal

‘Calories in, calories out…’ is the message we’ve been told over and over for years. And of course calories matter, but they are not the whole story. In fact, for women over 40 they are even less relevant!

The calories in a handful of broccoli are not the same as the calories in a handful of popcorn. You know that already, because it just makes sense. But why isn’t it factored into the message we’re constantly given?

Food is not just packages of calories. And your body is not like a bank account (in/out) – it’s a chemistry lab!

Food is information, and it sends vital messages to your hormones.

Take a large avocado at around 400 calories vs a Krispy Kreme doughnut at 200 calories. On a calorie counting programme, officially you’d choose the doughnut!

But this is where the model is obviously flawed – it doesn’t take into account what that food does to your biochemistry and the message it gives your hormones. Calories from healthy fats act differently to calories from sugar. So the calories in the avocado will tell your hormones to speed up your metabolism, burn fat and cut your appetite. The calories in that doughnut will  spike your blood sugar, drain your energy, increase hunger and store fat around your belly area.


If you are serious about controlling your weight (and improving your energy, mood and brain function too!), you need to be thinking of food in a different way. Don’t focus on diets or calories, but rather the type of foods you are eating and the messages they are giving your hormones.

Then you are more likely to choose the foods that are going to nourish your hormones, increase your fat burning and boost your energy levels – and never have to go on another DIET!

I hope that has been useful. Let me know in the comments if you have any questions.

Nicki x

PS Whenever you’re ready… here are 4 ways we can help you balance your hormones:

1. Grab a copy of my book
“It's not you, it's your hormones – the essential guide for women over 40 to fight fat, fatigue and hormone havoc”.  Click here

2. Join the Hormone Connection Facebook group
It’s our private Facebook community where you get daily access to me and the team, plus a whole load of super supportive like-minded women. Click here

3. Find out more about the 30 Days to Happy Hormones online programme
If you're ready to take action and need a structured plan to get you there, along with a supportive community and coaching, this could be the programme for you.  Click here

4. Apply for a free Discovery Call with me or one of the team
If you’d like to speak to us about your own personal hormone issues OR how we can help support female employees at your organisation… just send me a message and I'll send you a link to our bookings calendar to arrange a call. Click here


[accordion-item title=”Click to View Sources”]

Gornall, J. and Villani, R.G. (1996) Short-term changes in body composition and metabolism with severe dieting and resistance exercise. Int J Sport Nutr, 6(3):285–294.

Redman, L.M. et al. (2009) Metabolic and behavioral compensations in response to caloric restriction: implications for the maintenance of weight loss. PLoS One, 4(2):e4377.

Tomiyama, A.J. et al. (2010) Low calorie dieting increases cortisol. Psychosom Med, 72(4):357–364.


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