As we age, staying trim becomes increasingly hard which is why losing weight over 50 can seem like such an unbearable task. This is mostly due to your changing body composition, though it can be enhanced by a slowing metabolism, poor diet, and reduced exercise habits.
For instance, you begin to lose muscle mass at a rate of approximately 3-5% for every 10 years after age 35. This not only slows the rate your body burns fat since there’s less muscle to fuel, it can be enhanced by a sedentary lifestyle, poor eating habits, and less energy and motivation to exercise.
Plus, there are differences in weight loss in men and women over 50:
Weight Loss for Women Over 50
For women, along with decreased activity and calorie burn comes the added challenge of hormonal changes. As women go through menopause, they produce less estrogen which leads to a shift in fat distribution so that more becomes belly fat.
In fact, even women who remain active require around 200 fewer calories at age 50 than they did when they were 20 despite the same activity level.
Don’t feel picked on though, since men also go through hormonal changes and have their own weight loss challenges.
Weight Loss for Men Over 50
While menopause is commonly associated with women, men also go through hormonal declines as they age. But rather than a reduction in estrogen, men experience reduced androgen production–something commonly referred to as “andropause.”
Since testosterone in particular plays a role in the body’s metabolism, muscle mass, and fat distribution, less of it means more body fat, less lean muscle, and less energy for exercise.
Weight Loss in the Elderly
Another problem is that hitting 50 is only the beginning, and weight loss continues to get progressively harder as you age.
But there’s good news, since despite these changes there are ways to keep your metabolism, body mass, and energy up, and the pounds off.
Here is a look at 20-ways for you to do just that:
- Get moving! It’s no secret that when you’re more active, you burn more calories. But this simple formula is often derailed by the idea that “exercise” means running a marathon or climbing a mountain–both of which requires a little more commitment and motivation than most of us are likely to muster. But walking, swimming, yoga, or other low-intensity exercises are not only beneficial to your metabolism, they can also be a great place to start and build off of. Remember that your energy level will go up once you start exercising regularly so that building up to a more intense exercise program will become easier. On the other hand, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying walking or other types of “easy” exercise, since the important part is that you’re moving.
- Hit the gym One of the most beneficial forms of exercise for older adults is strength training. Not only does it help you maintain lean muscle mass, your bones also need weight bearing exercise to stay dense, strong, and less at risk for osteoporosis. It’s also one of the best ways to burn calories and boost your metabolism, and can either be done using weights, or simplified with bodyweight exercises that you can do at home such as pushups and burpees.
- Enjoy doing what you love While walking or hitting the gym will get the job done, your motivation will suffer unless you really enjoy doing what you’re doing. Yes, with time exercise will become easier and you will be more motivated to seek its rewards, though why not do something you love in the first place? It may be playing golf with friends, exploring in a kayak, joining a recreational soccer league, or any other activity you enjoy. Remember too that by joining a team, you not only get the joy of competition, but the camaraderie takes the fun–and motivation–to a whole new level.
- Pair up Even if you’re fully committed to exercising every day, the sound of the alarm and the idea of going out in the cold, early morning to exercise can be a great way to get the excuses flowing. But pairing up with a friend can beat this, since not only does having a friend along make the experience more enjoyable, it also means that you have a commitment to another to squelch any excuses. Plus, working out with a partner can ignite your competitive spirit and increase the intensity and burn more calories, and you can also use things like gentleman’s wagers to challenge each other and see who can hit a goal first.
- Get a best friend Don’t know anyone with 2-legs willing to join you in your quest for better health? Try upping the leg count to four! Not only can adopting a faithful companion require you to get out for walks, runs, or hikes, there’s nothing so fulfilling as the love of a tail-waggin’ pet. Remember that loneliness leads to depression, overeating, and a poor mental outlook, all of which do your weight loss–or for that matter, your overall health–any good.
- Consider a personal trainer Not only can a personal trainer help keep your exercise and weight loss program on track in much the same way as pairing with a friend can, an expert in exercise physiology can also help you work out more safely and effectively. This includes helping you not overdo it by stressing the importance of incrementation and recovery, as well as teach you proper form, technique, and duration to keep you injury free.
- Watch your body composition rather than weight Fat weighs less than muscle, which is why it’s not advisable to use a scale as your primary means of tracking your fat loss. In fact, though exercise and fat loss may have you feeling better than you have in years, it’s likely that stepping on the scale will reveal little–if any–weight loss, and may even show you some weight gain! Don’t fret though, since that’s healthy muscle replacing fat, and the easiest way to check your progress is with a simple pinch test to see how much fat you can pinch around your belly. It’s likely that you’ll be pleasantly surprised and far happier with the results of this, and your healthcare provider also has access to even more accurate means of measuring your progress.
- Up your protein intake Your body breaks down simple carbohydrates faster than it uses their energy. This results in the storage of their energy in the form of bodyfat, which can happen even if when you’re careful not to overeat. Protein on the other hand not only provides the building blocks you need to add muscle, it’s harder for your body to break down and utilize. This not only means that your body is able to use the energy from protein more thoroughly, the very act of digesting it requires your body to work harder and yes, burn more calories.
- Skip the packaged foods Though they may be convenient and inexpensive, most packaged foods need to be a no-no in your weight loss program. That’s because they’re typically high in unhealthy fats, sodium, processed sugar, and other high glycemic “white” foods such as white flour or rice, so be sure to limit them in favor of healthier–and tastier–whole foods.
- Consume “the rainbow” What’s better than eating enough greens? Adding in all the other colors of the rainbow, that’s what! While leafy greens are a great place to start, eating as many colored fruits and vegetable as possible increases the variety of phytonutrients you get from them, which helps you be leaner and healthier. Plus, this gives you reason to enjoy more produce and all its healthy, fibrous, weight loss benefits.
- Whole foods are your friends When it comes to healthy eating, the less processed, the better. This means avoiding packaged foods that are high in trans fats, sodium, and sugar in favor of fresh, lean meats, fish, and poultry as well as whole grains, legumes, and plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Sugar is your enemy Though it can be hard to avoid, sugar is one of your waistline’s worst enemies. It has little (if any) nutritional value, and your body can’t use its calories as fast as they become available, which means it needs to store them as fat. Instead, try enjoying fresh fruit as a low calorie, high fiber, and nutritious means of satisfying your sweet tooth.
- Skip the snacks Guess what? That quick handful of nuts from that bowl on the table just added about 100-calories to your day. Top that off with the fact that it didn’t sate you in the least, there’s plenty more 100-calorie handfuls to tempt you every time you pass the bowl, and no wonder losing weight over 50 is hard! Better than mindless snacking, try having something high in soluble fiber, such as a lightly green banana to snack on. Not only does it add fewer calories than constant snacking does, it adds fiber to help you feel fuller longer along with the nutrition you need to fuel your exercise sessions.
- Try intermittent fasting To lower your blood sugar, balance hormones, and stay lean and trim, try intermittent fasting, which is an eating program that involves eating only during specific “windows” during your day. For instance, the 16/8 version of it has you fasting for 16-hours (it’s easier than you think. If you stop eating 4-hours before bedtime and sleep 8-hours, you’ve already gotten 12-hours taken care of), after which you have an 8-hour eating window to enjoy your healthy diet.
- Sleep like you mean it While activity burns calories, enough rest is also essential in helping you maintain a healthy weight. Sleep not only resets your body and allows worked muscles to repair themselves and grow stronger, it also helps your hormones stay in balance so that fat-causing stress hormones aren’t in control.
- Drink your fill Another aspect of maintaining a healthy weight is drinking enough fluids. This means staying hydrated, preferably with water, which will help flush out toxins, keep you regular, and keep your energy level up. Find water boring? Try adding a little lime, lemon, or even fruit parings for flavor, and you can even add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to 16-ounces of water for a tart, deliciously-hydrating way to keep your body’s pH balanced.
- Eat some fat While we have long been told that eating fat makes us fat, it’s a myth. Instead, healthy fats (think healthy polyunsaturated fats) are not only what you need to fuel workouts, fat is harder for your body to break down. This means you feel fuller longer, your body is able to utilize the calories as they are made available, and best of all, your body burns more calories processing it than it does processing less complex foods (AKA carbohydrates).
- Use the right supplements It’s easy to get caught up in the hype and claims companies make when trying to sell you diet aids, but the bottom line is there’s no such thing as an “easy” pill to just melt the pounds away. But this doesn’t mean all supplements should be avoided, since ones containing quality multivitamin, minerals, and antioxidants can do wonders in keeping you energetic, healthy, and lean.
- Practice mindful eating Not only does eating mindlessly help you pack on the pounds, it’s also not satisfying, doesn’t help you through your day, and above all, isn’t healthy. But paying attention to your food and eating habits is the perfect way to establish better habits and take command of how you eat. While there is no specific “plan” on how to eat mindfully, it may involve turning off the television and other screens during mealtimes, sitting down at a table rather than at your work desk, or enjoying an evening meal with loved ones at a specific time. The main thing is to focus on–and enjoy–every bite of what you’re eating without any mindless distraction.
- Speak to your provider Not only is a visit with your doctor a good idea before starting an exercise program, your doctor may also be able to identify any health issues that could be keeping you from achieving your weight loss goals. Plus, doctors love helping their patients stay healthy, and yours is sure to have good advice and technical know-how to keep you in top shape!
Questions For Your Provider
When it comes to losing weight over 50, the more knowledge you have, the better your results will be. That’s why you should write down any questions you have for your provider before your next visit, and don’t be shy in asking them since there’s no such thing as too trivial a question for them.
For instance, you may want to ask what the best type of exercise for your physical makeup is, and what goals you can realistically set for yourself? You may also want to ask your doctor before using any supplements, especially if you’re on any medications which may have an interaction.
But most of all, it’s important that you gather all the information you need to hit your goals, which is something your provider will be happy to help you with.
Why Choose a Provider at Intermountain Health?
Whether it’s expert advice on losing weight over 50 or compassionate care for other medical conditions you require, Intermountain Health is committed to your every need. This includes providing the best in senior care at our myGeneration clinics, where our staffs of award-winning medical professionals always put your well-being first.
And, with locations throughout the region we’re never too far away from the best healthcare anyone has to offer.
Ready to discover what it’s like to be treated with the care, dignity, and respect you deserve? At Intermountain Health, we’ve got you covered.
*This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice or diagnosis from a physician or qualified healthcare professional.