When you want to lose weight after 50, it’s hard but not impossible. Here’s why weight loss gets harder and what you can do about improving your health and living a longer life.
When you hit 50, it can feel like you suddenly start gaining weight. One minute you’re in your 40’s and feeling energized, the next you feel more tired and less like yourself. You don’t know where it’s coming from or why it’s happening.
If that’s been the case for you, you are NOT alone. The effects of aging he everyone in one way or another, with common experiences related to predictable changes that happen as we age.
Women produce less estrogen, accumulate more fat around their hips and midsection, and lose bone density.
Men produce less testosterone and lose muscle mass as well. They also experience a rise in instances of diabetes and heart disease after the 50-year mark.
Many of the hormonal changes and aging processes are unavoidable. And when it comes down to it, it’s not your fault it’s harder to lose weight as you age.
But that does not mean you can’t do anything to prevent or reverse the effects of aging on your weight. It’s never too late to start.
With the right strategies, you can get down to your goal weight and feel confident in your skin. You can reverse the effects of aging on your weight and even prevent major weight gain that many people experience in middle age.
Doing so just requires understanding what’s going on with your body and how to counteract it.
3 common barriers to weight loss after 50
Loss of muscle mass
Muscle does more than give us a toned body. It influences your metabolic rate and how you burn calories.
When it comes to the types of tissues and cells we have in our body, certain types burn calories more efficiently. Muscle burns more calories than fat, which makes having more muscle helpful to lose weight.
So as you lose muscle, your resting metabolic rate begins to decline–by some estimates as much as 2% per decade. So by 50, your metabolic rate has slowed down and you lose muscle mass, which leads to noticing weight gain and other related health concerns manifesting around that time frame.
2. Sleep changes
For a long time, researchers have noted a link between sleep and weight gain.
Those who stay up and eat late into the night are more likely to be overweight than those who stop eating in the early evening and have a consistent, early bedtime.
There is also a connection between sleep deprivation and weight gain–those who don’t get the full recommended 7-9 hours of sleep eat more the following day and seek out calorie-dense foods.
Not only is your body trying to make up for lost energy, but sleep impacts your hormone regulation. The hormones ghrelin and leptin which regulate your appetite and fullness can get out of balance. As a result, your body craves more calories than you would normally seek out and you feel like you can eat more than usual.
3. Hormonal changes
As you age your levels of estrogen and testosterone drop. When this happens, your body starts to store more fat and it’s harder to drop any extra fat that accumulates.
At the same time, the hormones ghrelin and leptin act differently as well. They help you accurately determine when you are hungry and when you are full. But when these hormone levels fluctuate, you feel hungrier than you used to and it’s harder to feel full. As a result, you end up eating more than you once did and it’s difficult to limit your calorie intake.
How to achieve your weight loss goals after 50
It’s important for anyone to include 3-4 days of strength training in their week. Starting before 50 can help prevent the common health concerns that arise at 50.
One study found that adults who exercised at least four days a week experienced no loss of muscle mass or related effects at the same time others in their age group who didn’t exercise were showing signs of losing muscle mass and a slowing metabolic rate.
But even if you haven’t taken preventative measures and find yourself wondering how to lose weight over 50―it’s not too late at all.
You can regain lost muscle mass and prevent further loss by lifting weights just a few times a week.
As a result, you will increase your bone density which prevents osteoporosis, or loss and weakening of bone. It also keeps your muscle mass at levels that keep your metabolism efficient.
While lifting weights is important to retain muscle mass and boost your metabolism, it’s important to stay active in other ways too.
It’s common to feel like you slow down after 50, but you can keep up much of your energy by maintaining an active lifestyle.
Cardio for one is an important piece of keeping an active lifestyle. Cardio exercises like swimming, running, or hiking help you maintain your heart health. An unhealthy heart and cardiovascular system are associated with fatigue and changes in overall health. A healthy heart helps you keep up your energy levels throughout the day so you can burn more calories and stick to a routine sleep cycle.
Cardio is also a great way to burn calories during exercise. HIIT in particular is known for begin effective to burn a high amount of calories during the workout plus it helps build strength to build your resting metabolic rate as well.
But the most important thing to do is find a form of exercise and other activity that you enjoy most so you keep doing it and reap the health benefits of staying active.
Reduce intake of refined sugars
As your metabolism slows down, it becomes harder for your body to process the foods you used to eat with ease. You may have always been able to get away with eating your favorite sweets and snacks without noticeable weight gain over time, but that changes in middle age.
To adjust to a slower metabolism, it’s important to be more aware of what you choose to eat every day. While you don’t have to cut out ALL the tasty food you enjoy, limiting intake each week is advised.
This is not only beneficial for your weight, but also for preventing type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Studies have shown that people with a workout or diet partner are more likely to follow through. We feel more supported and it’s more enjoyable to work towards a goal with another person.
This means we are more likely to do better if we choose a friend or family member to get healthy with. You can hold each other accountable and follow through on your plans for a healthy diet and exercise.
You’re also more likely to successfully lose weight if you have the support of a doctor or weight loss professional on your side.
It’s understandable to try and go it alone to lose weight because in theory, it sounds as simple as changing your diet or exercising more.
But the truth is that it’s hard to know what to do for your particular situation and get the results you want. It’s common for people dieting alone to cut out too much of the wrong foods or develop an unhealthy relationship with food. And it’s even more common to lose steam a few weeks into your diet plan. Sticking to a diet or exercise regime when you have frequent temptations around is a challenge. That’s why having someone who creates a sustainable plan and check-ins improves the likelihood you follow through and see results.
At Valley Medical Weight Loss, our doctors help you create a weight loss plan that is personalized for your needs and helps you learn healthy diet habits for the long run. We know how important it is to still enjoy food even while you diet, so we help you get to your goal and then teach you how to maintain it without a lifetime of extreme dieting.
To get your weight and health back on track after 50, visit one of our locations for a consultation today. No appointment necessary.