In my decade-long experience as a personal trainer, I’ve noticed that one of the common concerns among my aging clients is how to lose weight in their 30s.
It's a valid concern for people in this age group who are either too busy with their lives or are struggling with their changing bodies and metabolism making it harder to lose weight.
So I teamed up with our dietician to put together what has worked from our experience.
Here’s what I found.
- To lose weight in your 30s, you need to change your diet and lifestyle.
- Ensure you get enough sleep, and hydrate through
- Avoiding sugar, and processed foods is the best way of losing weight, especially in your 30s.
Is It Difficult to Lose Weight After 30?
Yes, it's a little difficult to lose weight after 30. But a lot easier than in your 40s or 50s.
It should not be as hard if you play your cards well by incorporating a balanced diet, enough sleep, regular exercise, and hydration.
The truth is that losing weight at any age is never a walk in the park.
Making lifestyle changes demands deliberate action, commitment, and patience.
And when you do this consistently, you’ll start seeing positive body changes.
Shortly, we’ll dive into the tips to help you lose weight in your 30s.
But before that, let's examine why you’re likely to gain weight at this age suddenly.
Why Am I Suddenly Gaining Weight at 30?
You're suddenly gaining weight at 30 because your metabolism is slowing, your hormones are changing, and possibly due to lifestyle factors such as stress that may take a toll on your weight loss ambitions.
Let us examine how these individual factors contribute to an increase in body weight.
In the average society, 30 is when most people seek to establish themselves, family, and career-wise.
This pressure can take a toll on anyone’s physical and mental health. Most people at this age tend not to prioritize maintaining a healthy weight.
Financial woes take precedence in most people’s life after 30.
There’s pressure to save up for a home.
And in the workplace, you’re inches away from a senior position with all its demands.
Chasing deadlines at work may influence you to change your eating habits and turn to energy-dense and nutrient-poor foods to save time .
If you’re not married at 30, there’s pressure to tie the knot and start a family with your partner.
You’re bound to get caught up juggling tough decisions.
In 2018, experts from Stanford University discovered that the stress hormone cortisol can trigger weight gain .
It also brings negative mood changes and reduced energy levels.
But what's worse is that this hormone also disrupts sleep patterns.
The same study found that when the circadian rhythm (an internal process that regulates our sleep-wake cycle) is disrupted due to chronic stress, the stress hormone cortisol can mess with your blood sugar levels and increase body fat. Hence, stress does affect weight loss.
When stressed, most people drown themselves in snacks and sugary foods, which prime the body for weight gain.
What's more? The combination of stress and high-calorie intake triggers insulin resistance, which is bad news for anyone's weight loss ambitions .
As you age, your metabolism slows, which also contributes to weight gain.
This is the case for most people over 30 who experience sudden weight gain.
Although decreased physical activity also accounts for the changing body composition, age-related decline in basal metabolic rate (BMR) also plays a role.
BMR is the number of calories your body burns to perform essential life-sustaining functions.
The claim was confirmed by a study evaluating total energy expenditure (TEE), the number of calories burned through BMR.
The research found that after 20, total daily energy expenditure decreases by 150 calories per decade .
What's the cause of this decline in energy expenditure?
It's most likely caused by declining muscle mass and increased fat, both of which often come with age.
“Estimates suggest that every pound of muscle burns roughly six calories per day at rest. That’s about three times as many calories as a pound of fat, which burns roughly two calories per day.”
- Tim Church, Professor of Preventive Medicine
Notably, studies have mentioned 30 as the threshold, after which muscle mass declines at 3-8% per decade .
So, when you lose muscle, your metabolism slows.
One factor that speeds up the decreasing metabolism is inactivity and the sedentary office jobs most people settle in at 30. Shortly, we’ll see how you can fight the slowing metabolism.
The changing hormones in our body only add insult to injury.
Notably, the decreasing growth hormone production also contributes to the dipping metabolic rate .
The age of 30 is also when most women start to have kids.
And as you well know, pregnancy and weight gain go hand in hand.
But all of this can be reversed. Below are the ways you can rapidly lose weight in your 30s.
6 Weight Loss Tips for 30-Year-Olds
At 30, your health should be a priority.
So when you notice that you’re starting to put on a few pounds, it's time to take action.
It might be more complicated than in your 20s, especially because you’re now busy with work and family. But that's not a good excuse.
You should still prioritize losing weight.
Below are healthy tips for a successful weight loss journey in your 30s:
1. Focus on the Right Goal
It may seem odd. But let me break it down for you.
You see, most people have the wrong goal in mind. That's how they fail right out of the gate.
A study found that women who were least motivated by self-appearance but more motivated to lose body weight to improve their overall health and reduce their risk of diseases achieved their goal within 30 months .
On the other hand, those that focused on losing weight to improve their body image gained weight within the same period.
Don’t do it for body appearance. Do it to improve your energy levels and reduce your risk of contracting diseases.
It gets easier after that.
2. Fix Your Diet
It cannot be emphasized enough how important diet is in long-term weight maintenance.
In fact, if you’re not willing to adjust your diet, you can forget about achieving significant weight loss.
According to Mareya Ibrahim, founder and CEO of Eat Cleaner, the key is to make better choices with food and not solely relying on exercise.
It's not about counting calories. It is about making the calories count.
When it comes to effective weight loss, prioritizing diets that actively promote fat burning can greatly enhance your progress.
So, what types of diets that burn fat should you prioritize?
Fruits and Vegetables
Multiple scientific studies show that increasing the intake of fruits and fat-burning vegetables can promote weight loss and help maintain a healthy body weight .
Spinach, tomatoes, berries, and greens are a good start.
Proteins are essential for building muscle. And as we’ve seen, muscle aids in the burning of fat.
But there’s another crucial benefit that proteins bring to the table that is crucial to weight loss; the satiety effect.
Additionally, scientists have found that protein triggers the activity of the leptin hormone within the body .
Leptin is a hormone that sends signals to the brain when you’re full.
It makes you less interested in food, thus helping you maintain a normal weight.
Cut Sugar and Processed Foods
You’ve probably heard this a hundred times by now, but cutting sugar and only consuming foods with fewer calories than you’re expending is a must if you’re serious about losing weight in your 30s.
That includes soda, candy, baked goods, sweetened coffee drinks, and all foods with added sugar.
Cutting back on these can help reduce your calorie intake, thus boosting your weight loss ambitions.
Besides, it reduces your risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and metabolic syndrome.
Cut Artificial Sweeteners
If you’re thinking of replacing sugars with artificial sweeteners? Think again.
You see, the thing with sweet things is that when you taste them, your brain thinks it's getting high-caloric foods.
So when no calories are provided, it forces your body to seek them elsewhere.
This may cause you to overeat.
Yale researchers have shown that artificial sweeteners can increase cravings for calories .
As you can see, diet is critical for weight loss and maintaining lost weight.
But that alone may not be enough.
It's already proven that muscle mass percentage is on a downtrend after 30.
But that doesn't mean you can’t reverse it.
Exercising helps you gain lean muscle mass, which is important in the burning of excess calories.
The exercise routines below are great for building muscle in your 30s.
Studies from the University of Alabama show that lifting weights and dieting are ideal for losing fat and retaining muscle .
Those who combined the two fat-burning exercises saw better results than folks who just did cardio.
The latter lost both fat and muscle at the same time.
I've recommended this combination as an exercise program to most of my clients in their 30s.
And within weeks, sometimes even days, they start to see a drop in their clothing sizes and body mass index.
The cool part about lifting heavy is that burning calories goes beyond the gym.
This was proved by a scientific study which showed that overweight and sedentary participants who did resistance training burned 250 more calories than others who didn't 24 hours after the sweat session .
High-Intensity Interval Training
High-intensity training in short intervals is another efficient exercise routine that encourages burning calories within your body to improve your fitness levels.
I’ve found it far more efficient than moderate physical activities .
So, if you’re over 30 and looking to burn calories and amp up your weight loss efforts, I recommend adding HIIT for fat-burning to your exercise regimen.
I never said you should get rid of cardio. Hear me out.
You see, when you do cardio alone, you risk losing muscle. And as we’ve seen, that's the last thing we want.
The truth is that most of the exercises mentioned here actually work better in combination with regular cardio.
For instance, when you blend strength training and cardio for weight loss, you have a high chance of increasing your metabolism.
Aim for at least 150 minutes a week.
4. Move More
The most important thing is to keep active when all is said and done.
Sitting less and moving more is as crucial as spending time in the gym and positively impacts your physical and mental health.
Try improving your step count every day, with 8 to 12 thousand being a good reference range, depending on your circumstances.
5. Prioritize Sleep
At 30, you’re probably juggling work and family responsibilities, which leaves less time for a good night’s sleep.
Well, I hate to break this to you, but less than 7 hours of sleep is not ideal if you’re trying to lose weight.
Sleep deprivation has been heavily linked to weight gain.
In particular, it triggers the hunger hormone ghrelin and suppresses satiety hormones like leptin, making weight loss even harder .
You must find a balance if you want to burn those calories. It's not just crucial for weight management but overall health as well.
6. Stay Hydrated
Wellness professionals will tell you that fluid is integral to healthy body composition.
Studies have established that high fluid intake is crucial to maintain a low body fat percentage and small waist for adults between 18 and 39 .
Keep it simple. Forget about calorie-laced beverages like fruit juices, coffee drinks, and sodas, as drinking water is undeniably best.
Now, a simple way of telling whether you’re hydrated or not is to check your urine color, with a light straw color being the ideal .
Related: How Much Water Do I Drink to Lose Weight?
What Is the Best Diet for a 30-Year-Old Woman?
The best diet for a 30-year-old woman is protein from animal sources, including eggs, seafood, and white meat. Additionally, she might combine it with incomplete proteins from beans, vegetables, and whole grains.
How Many Exercises Do You Need to Lose Weight After 30?
To lose weight after 30, you need about 250 minutes of high-intensity exercises weekly. Include strength training 2-3 times a week while targeting all major muscle groups with exercises such as squats, chest presses, and lunges.
How Can I Boost My Metabolism After 30?
You can boost your metabolism after 30 by engaging in strength training and high-intensity training, getting those 7 hours of sleep, and drinking enough water.
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