Updated for 2022
How do you lose weight at or after 50?
Today, we’ll look at what it takes when it comes to weight loss for women over 50. You’ll learn how to boost your metabolism and lose weight in your 50s (without depriving yourself or having to spend hours at the gym).
Want to learn more? Let’s go.
How to lose weight after 50
What does it take to lose weight after 50?
As you age, your metabolism and other aspects of your health change, which can impacts your weight. That doesn’t mean you can’t still lose weight — you just need the right strategies.
Here’s how weight loss changes after you turn 50.
Why can’t I lose weight after 50?
It might feel like it’s harder to lose weight after 50.
In your 50s, you’ve likely already (or will soon) hit menopause, which can make a big difference in your weight loss efforts.
Your body just doesn’t work the way it used to when you were in your 20’s. With age, your metabolism slows down. Metabolism is the process of burning energy to use to fuel your body, so a slow metabolism means less fuel burned and more stored, often as fat. Specifically in your fifties, you’ll also experience hormonal changes, which adds an extra challenge for weight loss.
A study found that aging affects lipid turnover in the fat tissue, meaning the rate at which fat is removed and stored slows down, making it easier to gain weight if efforts aren’t made to offset the change in metabolism (by eating less or exercising more).
Plus, people start losing muscle mass every decade from their 30s onward. Muscles use up more calories than fat and fewer muscles result in a slower metabolism.
So what used to work doesn’t work anymore. To lose weight in yours 50s, you need new strategies.
And if you don’t adapt, it will be hard to lose any weight at all.
Weight Loss for Women over 50 – Why should you lose weight?
At the same time, you SHOULD lose weight if you carry extra weight. Being overweight can increase the risk of chronic health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and even certain cancers.
A new study found that being overweight still increases the risk of heart problems, even if you exercise. This means it’s even more important to aim for a healthy weight after you turn 50.
But how do you lose weight after 50? That’s what we’ll look at next.
How can you boost your metabolism after 50?
Should you follow a specific diet? How much do you need to exercise? And how do you get rid of belly fat?
Here are 23 ways to lose weight after 50!
1. Don’t diet for weight loss after 50!
Ever tried to lose weight with a diet? Most of us have. I used to be a serial yo-yo dieter and tried every diet under the sun — Weight Watchers, South Beach, Atkins…
But the thing is:
Diets won’t help you lose weight. It’s true. Tons of science backs this up.
According to studies, one third to two thirds of dieters regain more weight than they lost while dieting. This explains the yo-yo dieting cycle of losing weight, regaining it and then trying yet another new diet.
Diets usually don’t work because the changes made while following them aren’t sustainable. They can also increase the chances of developing disordered eating habits like anorexia and bulimia and cause low self esteem and altered body image.
Studies have also found that restricting calories increases cortisol, a stress hormone that is linked with weight gain. Researchers also found that monitoring calories, such as keeping a food journal, increased perceived stress among the study participants. Stress can make you gain weight, so dieting can actually have the opposite effect of what you want.
So if diets and restricting yourself don’t work, what does? The answer might be chocolate cake.
2. Enjoy your chocolate cake
Here’s what I mean:
Deprivation can keep you from losing weight.
If you say no to everything you enjoy, be that a glass of wine, chocolate cake, or a slice of pizza, you will likely end up frustrated and end up eating those things later When you tell yourself something is off limits, you’re more likely to feel guilty and binge on those foods, which can further fuel yo-yo dieting and binge eating behaviors.
A study of 68 women found that those who tend to restrict their intake are more likely to over-eat later compared to those who don’t overly-restrict themselves. The researchers concluded that restriction can backfire and lead to less controlled eating behaviors.
Another study shows that your brain becomes more attentive to pictures of food during caloric deprivation. The study results suggest that caloric deprivation “ increases reward and attention region response to food”, which can increase the risk of binge eating. In simpler terms, cutting back on calories can make you more fixated on food.
But how can you have your chocolate cake and lose weight?
The answer is moderation. If you eat healthy most of the time, you can enjoy your chocolate cake when you feel like it.
Take my student Tree. She didn’t say ‘no’ to everything.
Instead, she kept enjoying her family Thursday dinners with desserts.
The best part? Despite being an incredibly busy professional woman with 12+-hour workdays, Tree lost 20 pounds and fit back into her size 4 jeans.
3. Eat more protein for weight loss after 50
Eating more protein is one of the best ways to boost your metabolism and aid in weight loss, according to research. Protein takes more energy to digest compared to other nutrients, and it also helps promote satiety, which can decrease cravings. Eating ~25-30 grams of protein per is associated with improved weight management, appetite and other health factors.
You see, many proteins are enzymes, which are important for metabolism. Proteins also contribute to cellular energy metabolism as proteins.
But what foods are great for getting more protein?
Choose foods like poultry, fish, lean meat, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils and dairy products.
4. Losing weight at 50? Exercise more
According to a study of over 500,000 adults, any level of exercise is linked with better health, such as lower likelihood of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes, compared to no exercise at all.
That’s why you should move your body whenever possible. For example, take the stairs instead of the elevator and use part of your lunch hour to take a short walk instead of sitting still.
5. Exercise in the right way
That said, some forms of exercise are more effective than others for losing weight.
A 9-month study shows that strength or resistance training increases metabolism, with some variability depending on individual factors like thyroid hormones and fat-free mass.
One caveat: I actually recommend that you start eating the right way before you add on strength training. Once you’ve built up that habit, you can start doing 30-minute strength training sessions twice a week.
You can even do strength training exercises at home if you want to skip the gym. Use kettlebells, dumbbells or just your own body weight and you’re good to go.
6. Drink water (this tip will help you keep the habit)
Drinking water is a great way to lose weight after 50.
The old recommendation to drink eight glasses of water per day is likely outdated. According to the Mayo Clinic, men should drink around 15 cups of water per day and women 11 cups per day. This recommendation will depend on many factors such as living in a warmer climate, exercise level and any health conditions. You should consult your doctor if you’re unsure of your ideal fluid goal. When in doubt, gauge your hydration by your urine color, which should be pale and not strong-smelling.
Some research, like this smaller study that assessed 14 study participants, showed that drinking water improved metabolism. In the study, drinking 500 milliliters of water increased participants’ metabolic rate by 30%.
But if you don’t love drinking water, it can be hard to keep the habit. An easy way to make water more interesting is to make infused water; add herbs like mint, a bit of lemon juice and even sliced fruit for an interesting and healthy change to help keep your water intake up.
What’s the next step? To get accountable. That’s what we’ll look at next.
7. Get accountable
An 18-week study with 23 female study participants showed that accountability facilitates weight loss. Another study found that two-thirds of study participants enrolled in a weight-loss program together with friends were able to keep their weight off six months after the program ended compared to a quarter of those who attended on their own. Accountability in the form of a friend, mentor or a coach can help you lose and keep your weight off.
That’s not all, though. Also support groups help, as we’ll see in the next step.
8. Find a support group
Here’s the thing:
Group programs can be a great way to lose weight.
One study showed that a weight-loss program including group support and sessions with a dietitian was more effective than trying to lose weight independently. In fact, those who attended the program lost three times more weight.
Another bonus is that study participants who had been part of the program kept off the majority of the weight two years after the program ended, while those who lost weight independently regained the weight.
So, if you want to lose weight, consider joining a reputable program, such as my own program, Slim Down Transformation.
9. Cook more at home to lose weight after 50
You probably know that eating a lot of fast food can have negative impacts on your health. Fast food is often processed and higher in sugars, fat and salt compared to making meals at home with fresh, whole ingredients.
But did you know that other restaurant food isn’t great for your health, either?
According to the USDA, restaurant meals also contain fewer fruits and vegetables and have more calories, fat, and sodium than food prepared at home.
If you should avoid eating out, how do you manage if you’re incredibly busy and don’t have time to work in the kitchen for hours? One of my favorite time savers is to use a crockpot. Here are some of my favorite crockpot recipes you can use right away.
Another great technique is batch cooking, which are recipes that provide several servings of food at once. That way you can have lunch and dinner for the next few days all in one go, all while saving time and money.
10. Sleep more… And better
How much sleep do you get, on average?
The reason I’m asking is that sleep has a BIG impact on your weight.
According to research, sleep deprivation can lead to metabolic dysregulation, which is linked to inflammation, weight gain, and obesity.
Plus, as this study shows, sleep-deprived people tend to opt for foods that are more likely to result in weight gain.
Women after 50 losing weight should aim to get 7-9 hours of sleep every night. Practice good sleep hygiene to promote restful sleep, such as avoiding excessive caffeine intake, keeping the room temperature cool, avoiding screens and blue light prior to bed and keeping the room dark.
11. Don’t skip meals
Are you skipping meals, such as breakfast? That could have a big impact on your weight.
A study conducted with mice showed that skipping meals can lead to weight gain. The mice that ate one large meal and fasted the rest of the day had higher levels of insulin, which can lead to weight gain. Small meals throughout the day might be the better way to go for weight loss, according to a review of that study.
Try to eat as consistently as you can, and be sure to listen to your hunger cues. This afternoon snack can help you keep satisfied in between meals.
12. Make it easy for yourself to adopt new habits
You know how it is:
Changing your diet and activity level requires you to change your habits and routine, and it’s always easier to stay the same and continue what you’re used to doing, especially when it comes to weight loss for women over 50.
To help aid in behavior change, try to make it as easy as you can for yourself to adopt new habits. For example, put your workout clothes by your bed to help make it easier to get that morning workout in.Try to buy more nourishing foods that you want to be eating instead of filling your cupboards with processed and high-sugar foods. When you make your environment supportive of your goals, you’re more likely to stay on track.
Another important weight-loss strategy is to eat foods that boost your metabolism.
That’s what we’ll look at next.
13. Eat metabolism-boosting foods
Did you know that some spices might help you boost your metabolism? Spices like ginger, black pepper and capsaicin (the active ingredient in hot peppers) can increase metabolism.
Spices come with other health benefits, too. For example, turmeric can help the body to manage hyperlipidemia and improve oxidative and inflammatory conditions.
To get these benefits, add spices to your meals whenever you can for a healthy flavor boost. Another bonus is that flavoring foods with spices decreases the need for salt and other sodium-laden ingredients.
Why tea helps you lose weight.
14. Drink green tea
If you’re a tea drinker, this will be right up your alley. A study conducted on mice showed that consuming green tea on a daily basis together with exercise results in increased fat metabolism. The dose used was the equivalent of 8-10 cups of tea every day.
Herbal teas can also help you stay hydrated, so it’s a win-win!
15. Avoid processed food (here’s why)
Here’s the deal:
The quality of the food you eat is important when it comes to your weight and health goals.
An extensive review of studies that spanned 20-years and included over 120,000 people showed that weight gain was most strongly associated with the consumption of processed foods such as sugar-sweetened beverages, potato chips, and meats.
On the other hand, those who ate vegetables, whole grains, fruits, nuts, and yogurt were more likely to lose weight over the span of the study.
While they’re convenient, processed foods tend to be high in starches, fats, sugars, and refined grains, which can have a negative impact on your weight.
In other words, it’s best to try to avoid processed foods when you can. Donuts, pizza, and chips are all examples of foods that are processed. However, even foods marketed as healthy are also processed, such as “lean” TV dinners and sugar-sweetened granola bars.
(However, remember that you don’t need to deprive yourself. You can enjoy these foods once in a while, especially if you follow the other strategies most of the time.)
16. Use this plate model for faster weight loss when you’re over 50
One of the questions I get all the time is:
“What should I eat every day to get rid of my menopausal belly fat?”
I get it. Your body is changing, which can be difficult to accept. You probably want to look and feel great despite these new changes.
One of the best ways to help meet this new challenge is to use my Fat-Burning Food Framework:
Use this plate model for all your meals and you’ll be off to a great start.
A couple of notes on these plate methods; “healthy carbs” are those that are complex and whole-grain carbohydrates, such as brown rice, quinoa and sweet potatoes. “Healthy fats” are those that come from plants, such as nuts, seeds, olive oil and avocado.
17. Use meal plans
I love planning my meals. First, it helps free up time that I can spend with my kids. Second, meal planning has been shown to help with weight loss.
A study that assessed over 40,000 participants suggests that meal planners are more likely to enjoy better food variety and higher food quality. Women who meal plan are less likely to be overweight or obese and men who plan their meals are less likely to be obese.
Meal plans don’t even have to be that difficult to set up.
To get you started, here are a few of my favorite meal plans:
18. Focus on your body composition
Try to avoid getting stuck thinking that your body weight is all that matters.
Sure, losing weight can be an indicator that you’re getting healthier if you’re overweight. Another important number is your body composition, which include the percentages of fat and fat-free mass in your body.
As you age after 50, your muscle mass will start decreasing. Having excess body fat is unhealthy, as people with a higher percentage of fat have a higher death rate. If you lose muscle mass, your body fat percentage may go up.
Maintaining muscle mass is important for overall health, since muscles help maintain your posture, reduce the risk of injuries and allow you to enjoy movement.Muscle is also important for metabolic functions, so building muscle goes hand-in-hand with your weight loss goals.
These are just a few reasons why you should focus on both building muscle. It’s important to note that lean muscle tissue weighs more than fat, which is why losing weight is only one indicator of health. If you’re gaining muscle and losing fat, your weight might not change as drastically as you expect, which is okay! You can gauge your progress off other indicators such as your waist measurement, muscle tone and fitness level, as well as your overall energy level and mood.
19. Drink coffee
Are you a coffee drinker? If so, you might experience some weight-loss benefits from your love of java. According to a study, four cups of coffee a day might have metabolism-boosting benefits.
The study followed 126 overweight adults over 24 weeks who were either given four cups of regular coffee or four cups of a coffee-like placebo beverage. Those who drank coffee every day ended up reducing about 4% of their body fat. If you use this strategy, just remember to opt for lower sugar options, since flavored coffees quickly add up in sugar and empty calories.
20. Don’t sit still the whole day
If you’re trying to lose weight over 50 and you’re sitting still the whole day, as you might be with your desk job, you might be gaining weight without even realizing it.
A survey of almost 6,000 adults found that 25% of people sat more than eight hours a day, with44% saying they do no moderate to vigorous physical activity.
Furthermore, nearly 80% of adults are not meeting the key guidelines for aerobic and muscle-strengthening activity.
This lack of activity can have serious negative impacts.Stanford University School of Medicine analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a long-term CDC project which included more than 17,000 people. Not surprisingly, they found that lack of physical activity makes people more likely to gain weight. The researchers concluded that lack of physical activity is likely driving the rise in obesity more than high calorie intake. This suggests that physical activity might play a larger role in weight management than diet alone.
Besides weight gain, sitting the whole day is bad for your health in many other ways, including being linked to obesity, diabetes, depression, and other serious illnesses.
21. Eat less sugar (here’s how)
One of the most effective strategies for weight loss for women over 50 is to eat less sugar. The average American consumes 17 teaspoons of sugar a day, while the recommended amount is 6 teaspoons or less per day for women and nine teaspoons or less per day for men.
High sugar intake is linked to weight gain; a review of USDA and CDC data shows that consuming sugar impacts obesity.
A meta-analysis of 88 studies looked at the link between soft drink consumption and weight gain. The study found a clear association between soft drink intake and an increase in body weight.
It’s clear that to lose weight, you should reduce the amount of sugar you eat. The problem is that sugar is hidden in so many foods you might not even realize, such as flavored yogurts, cereals, bread, granola bars and even tomato soup. Learning to read the nutrition facts label will help you identify these sneaky hidden sugars so you can make more informed decisions at the grocery store.
Along with choosing lower-sugar foods, another tip I love is to use sweet spices to replace your sugar cravings.
Over to you!
There you have it. Now you know what it takes to lose weight after 50.
It IS possible to lose weight in your 50s. What it comes down to is using the RIGHT weight loss strategies -- not to deprive yourself or use unhealthy supplements.
What have you tried so far to lose weight?
Let me know in the comments below!
Reviewed by: Diana Gariglio-Clelland (RD, BSc)