Is Skipping Dinner a Good Way to Lose Weight After 40?

Is Skipping Dinner a Good Way to Lose Weight After 40? - Weight gain can accompany middle age, but adherence to a few lifestyle tips can keep you at your optimum weight.

Is Skipping Dinner a Good Way to Lose Weight After 40?

Is Skipping Dinner a Good Way to Lose Weight After 40?

Weight gain can accompany middle age, but adherence to a few lifestyle tips can keep you at your optimum weight.

Health Viewpoints
When we hit our forties, it sometimes feels like our bodies start auto-packing extra pounds despite maintaining our usual diet and lifestyle. Why is that?

3 Reasons for Weight Gain After 40

There are three primary reasons why it's common to gain weight and a challenge to shed those extra pounds after turning forty.

1. Body Degeneration and Aging

As you enter middle age, your metabolism slows down, and your body begins to show signs of aging. This can lead to feelings of fatigue, hair loss, dry skin, and less flexible knee joints. This reduced energy and vitality may discourage physical activity, leading to decreased muscle mass and increased fat accumulation, causing gradual weight gain.

2. Declining Digestive Function

When digestive function declines, it can lead to various issues such as indigestion, bloating, abdominal distension, and overall puffiness or water retention. Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) holds that the spleen is responsible for transporting and transforming water and dampness, making it a crucial hub for fluid metabolism. If there are problems with digestion in the spleen and stomach, water can overflow and affect the entire body. It's akin to the situation where water can flood various areas if a city's drainage system gets blocked.

Modern dietary habits, often include eating fried foods and icy beverages which can be particularly harsh on the spleen and stomach. Therefore, it's recommended to change unhealthy dietary practices. Consuming warm or room-temperature foods, drinking plenty of plain water, and avoiding late-night eating, is advisable. By improving the health of your spleen and stomach, you can gradually experience weight loss.

In the perspective of TCM, qi, blood, essence, and body fluids are essential substances for the body's vital activities. These substances originate from the internal organs and continuously circulate throughout the body. Ensuring these vital substances are sufficient and well-circulated is crucial for maintaining good health. Diseases and various health conditions are often attributed to stagnation or deficiencies in these vital substances.

3. Menopausal Factors

For women, menopause decreases estrogen levels, which can slow down metabolism and lead to weight gain, especially accumulating fat around the abdominal area.

Is Skipping Dinner an Effective Weight Loss Strategy?

Many people resort to skipping dinner to avoid weight gain. But is this approach effective? In ancient times, there was a practice called "no food after noon," where people refrained from eating after midday (1 p.m.). This practice was suitable for individuals living in monasteries or remote mountains as they would sleep at 7–8 p.m. and have breakfast around 4 a.m. This method isn't practical for people with a modern lifestyle.

Imagine if you have lunch at noon, work throughout the afternoon and evening, and have breakfast again at 8 a.m. the next day—this results in nearly 20 hours without food. This is hardly sustainable or healthy for most people.

Instead of skipping dinner entirely, eating a lighter dinner focusing on vegetables is advisable. You can have a glass of milk or some apple if you feel hungry before bedtime. Over time, as you get accustomed to smaller dinner portions, you can naturally avoid late-night eating, which can help prevent weight gain.

Maintaining a Healthy Weight Without Starving

So, how can you maintain a healthy weight after turning forty without starving yourself?

1. Calorie calculation and regular Meals

Calculate your daily calorie needs. For example, if you require 1800–2000 calories daily, aim for a diet of 30 percent fat, 60 percent carbohydrates, and 10 percent protein. Calculating calories helps you eat an appropriate amount, and once you're accustomed to portion sizes, you won't need to track calories closely. Additionally, stick to regular, portion-controlled meals, avoid fried foods, and do not consume sweets after meals.

2. Avoid icy and cold foods

Icy beverages and cold foods can cause gastrointestinal contractions, which lead to vessel contractions and thus reduce metabolism.
In addition, according to TCM, the stomach and intestines like to be warm and do not like dampness or coldness. Cold food tends to accumulate in the intestines, causing indigestion, abdominal enlargement, and bloating, among other symptoms, making people gain weight. This is especially relevant for individuals with a cold constitution, so limiting the consumption of melons, pears, dragon fruit, and excessive green tea, coffee, and herbal teas is best.

3. Get the right amount of sleep

A proper amount of sleep can balance the body and mind, which is beneficial for many reasons including maintaining a healthy weight, even after middle age. Sleep should not be too much or too little. Lack of sleep will lead to fatigue, headaches, poor work efficiency, high temper, anxiety, irritability, and overeating all of which can lead to weight gain. A TCM classic "Five Labors and Seven Injuries," says that lying down for a long time harms the qi, and harming qi leads to harmed lungs. If you sleep for too long, you will be weak in qi, your metabolism will slow down, and your lung capacity will decrease, which can lead to obesity or edema.

4. Get consistent exercise

I recommend a simple exercise routine of 30 minutes of brisk walking. Brisk walking is good for slimming down and your overall health. When the body is active, it increases metabolism, promotes blood circulation, and makes it stronger. The advantage of walking is that it is simple and can be done anywhere, anytime.

5. Get close to nature

When people are stressed, they are prone to anxiety, irritability, insomnia, and overeating, all of which can cause unconscious weight gain. Getting close to nature is one of the most effective ways to relieve stress, allowing you to achieve a balanced mind and body, and a happy mood.

Final Thoughts

Finally, I would like to share my own experience. I have been practicing medicine for over twenty years, and some of my long-time patients often ask me, "Dr. Li, how do you take care of your body, and how come your body hasn't changed in more than ten years?" I tell them that I practice Falun Gong outdoors every morning. Falun Gong is a spiritual discipline that cultivates both the mind and body. We not only exercise the body to get rid of diseases and maintain health, but also work on our minds and live by the principles of truthfulness, kindness, and forbearance.

Practicing Falun Gong can keep the body in good condition and improve one's character and tolerance levels. As a result, practitioners are less prone to experience stress in the hustle and bustle of life, thus avoiding stress-related weight gain. The movements of Falun Gong are relaxed, slow, and fluid and are suitable for men and women, young and old. I recommend reading the book "Zhuan Falun," and trying to understand and practice Falun Gong, which may benefit people's physical and mental health, especially during these trying current times.