10 Ways to Lose Weight After 50

By on October 29, 2019
Lose weight

Losing weight gets harder as we age. Our metabolism slows, we get less active and when it comes time to slim down it’s not as simple as “I’ll eat a smaller lunch” anymore. So, why is it so much harder to lose weight after 50, and how can you beat the odds? Here is a quick explanation and 10 easy tips to help you lose weight and stay as healthy as you age. 

Why Weight Loss Is Hard After 50

Obesity is most common among middle-aged people 40-59 years old, with nearly 43% of Americans in this group reporting an obese body mass index (BMI). Americans aged 60 and older aren’t far behind with 41% falling into the obese category. However, obesity only affects about 36% of 18 to 30-year-olds. So, why is it so much more likely for older Americans to struggle with obesity? The main reason is that it’s significantly easier to gain weight and much harder to lose it. 

Here are four reasons it’s harder to lose weight as you age:

Less Lean Muscle

First and foremost, we naturally lose muscle as we age. After 30, lean muscle mass decreases at an average rate of about 3-8% per decade. This is problematic because muscle burns more calories than fat, so losing muscle negatively affects resting metabolic rate. People with less muscle burn fewer calories at rest, which means that older people are more likely to gain weight – even if they still eat the same number of calories as they did when they were younger. 

More Brown Fat

Hormonal changes also tip the scales out of older adults’ favor. Testosterone levels decrease with age, especially in post-menopausal women. This affects your ability to lose and maintain weight because testosterone promotes muscle growth, while its counterpart – estrogen – encourages fat storage. Older women who have more estrogen and less testosterone are biologically predisposed to store excess fat around their midsections, so this further contributes to the difficulty of weight loss after 50.

Less Physical Activity

Another major change that makes weight loss after 50 harder is a natural decrease in physical activity. Physical activity, both formal (e.g. going to the gym) and informal (e.g. taking the stairs), is a lesser part of people’s lives as they age. Lower energy levels, aches and pains, and busy schedules contribute to older adults’ lower activity levels. However, a more sedentary lifestyle means fewer calories burned on a daily basis, lower lean muscle mass and a slower metabolism. This too makes weight loss more difficult.

Other Lifestyle Changes

Finally, lifestyle changes as we age can contribute to difficulty losing weight, or even weight gain. High levels of stress lead to a spike in the hormone cortisol, which makes the body hold onto fat and can disrupt accurate hunger cues. More, many older adults take medications that cause insomnia (and other side effects) and make it harder to get a good night’s sleep. Like stress, sleep deprivation throws-off hormone levels and makes it harder to lose weight.Lose weight

10 Tips to Lose Weight After 50

Now that you know why weight loss is hard, how can you beat the odds, shed some weight and stay in shape after 50? Here are 10 tips:

1. Talk to Your Doctor

Before undertaking any new diet or exercise regimen, it’s beneficial to chat with your doctor about weight loss. He or she can help you make a plan to lose weight healthfully, and even recommend experts that can help you achieve your goals faster. Your doctor may also screen you for medical conditions that make weight loss harder (like hypothyroidism or PCOS) or talk to you about prescription weight loss medications if you would like. Regardless of your goals, it is especially important to talk with your doctor if you have any pre-existing conditions that make weight loss trickier. 

2. Walk It Out

Incorporate more activity into your daily life. Go for a walk after dinner, park farther away from the restaurant and take the stairs at work. If you have young kids or grandkids, play with them instead of sitting off to the side. You don’t need to join a gym to get more active, but even a small increase in activity can have big returns for weight loss.

3. Get Cooking

Choose to cook at home instead of going out or ordering take out. Home-cooked food is healthier (lower in sugar, sodium, and fat) and cheaper, plus it’s easier to eat only one portion of food. In fact, research shows that people who cook at home eat an average of 140 calories less per day. That may not seem like much in a single day, but over the course of a year that one little change could help you lose almost 15 pounds.

4. Hit Snooze

Sleep is critical to regulating hormones, including those that tell us when we’re hungry and full. It’s especially important to get your z´s if you want to lose weight after 50 because studies show people are 24% hungrier and have significantly more cravings for salty junk food when sleep-deprived. So, in the name of weight loss, slow down and aim for 7-9 hours or restful sleep each night!

5. Learn to Lift

A decrease in lean muscle mass is one of the main reasons older adults struggle to lose weight. Combat the natural decline in muscle mass by learning to strength train. Try activities like weight lifting, yoga, Pilates, hiking or climbing stairs. When it comes to weights, start small and focus on technique, but don’t be afraid of lifting heavier weights if you can! Lifting heavy weights helps you achieve greater muscle growth and, consequently, more weight loss.

6. Eat More Protein

Protein is the building block for muscles, so eating enough protein each day is critical to maintain muscle mass and allow for growth. There are different ways to estimate protein needs, but the general rule is about 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight or about 46-56 grams of protein per day. It is possible to eat too much protein, however, so talk to a doctor if you think you need significantly more than the recommended 46-56 grams per day.Lose weight

7. Enlist a Friend

Accountability buddies are another important part of weight loss after 50 (or at any age!). Find someone who will keep you focused on your goals: whether that’s eating healthier, staying active or taking more time for self-care. If no one in your life will keep you accountable, or you don’t want to share that you’re trying to lose weight, consider an online community or an app (such as WW or Noom) that can act as your support system.

8. Focus on Good Fats

You need to eat fat to lose fat, but not all fats are created equal. Trans fats and saturated fat are “bad fats” that tend to be found in baked goods, processed snacks and high-fat animal products. Unsaturated fats are “good fats” and they’re common in plant-based options like olive oil, avocado, and walnuts. Opt for good fats to fill you up, and minimize foods with bad fats to maximize weight loss.

9. Skip the Soda

Soda and “juice drinks” (juice that isn’t 100% juice) are packed with sugar and calories but offer no nutritional value. If you want to lose weight after 50, skip the sugar-sweetened beverages and choose water, sparkling water, unsweetened tea or skim milk instead. 

10. Start Weigh-Ins

Last but not least, it’s important to weigh yourself periodically so you know when you’re gaining, losing or maintaining your weight. Some people weigh every day, while others weigh less frequently. However, experts recommend that you step on a scale at least once a week so that you realize any trends early and can adjust your daily habits as needed.

Are you trying to lose, or have you lost, weight after 50? Share your tips, tricks, and questions with us in the comments section below!

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10 Ways to Lose Weight After 50