Weight loss in your 50s and beyond is a different game and although you may feel as though shedding stubborn pounds is impossible, you can still lose weight. As long as you know what you know is standing in your way.
- You still live like you’re in your 20s
Entering your 50s and beyond may bring some surprising changes to your body, especially if you were one who could eat what you wanted, shunned exercise and always remained thin.
Hormonal and physiological changes occur as we age and after 50, you will need to adjust your approach as your resting metabolic rate decreases, Prevention reports.
- And are eating the same way every single day
If you’ve gained weight in your 50s and can’t seem to drop the pounds, consider an eating pattern shake up. Rather than just eating the same foods every day, try intermittent fasting, according to AARP.
Eat 600 calories a day for men or 500 calories a day for women only two days a week and then your normal diet the rest of the week. This approach, called Alternate Day Fasting, not only helps you lose weight, it may also improve your overall health.
- You’re only counting calories
Sugars and grains are considered to be acidic foods, which may work against fat burn, Dr. Daryl Gioffre, celebrity nutritionist told The Active Times. “Each meal should focus on my 80/20 rule of health, where 80% or more of the foods you eat are alkaline, and no more than 20% acid,” he said.
That means you should be eating more dark, leafy greens and less starchy vegetables. Adding in lean protein is a good idea too.
- And you blow off drinking enough water
Grabbing a soda or a glass (or two) of wine after work is a lot easier (and tastier) than only drinking water. However, other drinks add calories to your diet, which could be sabotaging you, especially if you are trying to reduce the number of acidic foods.
Try drinking only water for the next few weeks and see if you drop a few pounds, according to AARP. Even diet soda may boost your cravings for sugary, high caloric foods.
- Happy hour is every night
Alcohol really packs in extra calories. | Ridofranz/iStock/Getty Images
Now that the kids are away at college and you have more time to play, you are going out and socializing more. That also means more opportunities to have cocktails with friends.
While you should be celebrating your newfound freedom, it could be the reason why your pants are snug, according to Very Well Fit. You don’t have to abandon fun, but instead consider substituting that second glass of wine with club soda or still go out but don’t drink.
- You aren’t sleeping
Sleep disturbances are common among those age 50 and older, according to Prevention. Women going through menopause have sleep disruptions due to hot flashes or arthritis. Sleep disruption reduces the production of human growth hormone, which is key to building both bone and muscle mass.
Sleep also controls your fat cells, your cravings, and may even mess with the quality of your workout, according to Shape.
- Cardio is your only friend at the gym
There’s more to fitness than muscle. You may need to switch things up. | UberImages/iStock/Getty Images
Only doing cardio without any weight training isn’t going to do you any favors. Weight training is more important post 50 as it builds muscle, which kicks up the metabolism, The New York Times reports.
Muscle mass consumes more calories, which is why weight training and weight-bearing exercises are key to pushing that scale downward.
- And you like to read while doing that cardio
If you tend to zone out during a workout, you may notice a lack of results. | iStock.com
The guy on the exercise bike reading the newspaper isn’t going to get the same efficiency from his workout as the other person pushing herself on the elliptical machine.
“Far too many people think that just because they showed up, they’re working out,” Alex Allred, personal trainer told Prevention. “But really, you need to be focused on what you’re doing and pushing yourself hard enough to break a sweat or at least complete the full range of motion of a certain exercise.”
- Sore joints may keep you from working out
Swimming is a great, low-impact way to stay fit. | iStock.com
You may not spring from bed the way you did in your 20s and 30s due to joint aches and pains. Which is why you may not feel like working out in your 50s. But that doesn’t give you an excuse to abandon a workout, you just need to know which ones will work for you.
“Water exercise is easy on the joints and can boost range of motion as well,” says Janna Lowell said to Prevention. “Even better, caloric expenditure is about 30% greater in the water than on land due to the resistance water creates.”
- Your hormones change too
Hormones like progesterone and testosterone drop as we get older so ask your doctor to check your levels. “Simply getting your thyroid, adrenal glands, and other hormone levels checked—and then taking the appropriate steps to bring them back into balance—can go a long way toward helping people in their 50s lose weight,” Jennifer Burns, a naturopathic physician told Prevention.
- Women think they can’t lose weight in menopause
Is this actually true? | Natalie_board/iStock/Getty Images
While you may be ready to throw up your hands and just blame Mother Nature, you have more control than you think. “We have much more control over weight gain than we would like to admit,” Rebecca Hulem, RN, told Everyday Health. “Although we would like to blame weight gain that arises around the menopause transition on menopause, it’s not the only thing that’s responsible.”
A combination of muscle mass loss and insulin sensitivity may play a role in weight gain, which is why lifestyle changes are important. Boost your physical activity to working out up to 60 minutes a day four to five days a week, add in strength training, and cut your daily caloric intake by about 200 calories per day.
- Testosterone loss may impact men’s weight
Could this be partially to blame? | Nastco/iStock/Getty Images
Men tend to gain weigh mainly in their midsection, Livestrong reports. Slowing metabolism, drinking alcohol, especially beer, and not working out contributes to the middle-age spread. Also, a drop in the hormone testosterone can reduce muscle mass, which has a direct impact on metabolism.
- Depression may be to blame
according to Johns Hopkins, which may also be influenced by other factors such as divorce, education or employment level.
In some cases, depression can lead to weight gain, which becomes a vicious cycle, according to Everyday Health. You can combat depression induced weight gain by cutting calories and getting more physical activity. You may also want to talk to a registered dietician to identify the right plan for you. Of course if you are depressed more than two weeks, seek professional help.
- The medicine you take to help your life may be packing on weight
The antidepressant, blood pressure medication or diabetes drug may be preventing you from losing weight, according to The University of Rochester Medical Center.
Some medications stimulate the appetite, whereas others may influence your metabolism, cause water retention or shortness of breath, which may make you less likely to workout.
Talk to your doctor if you are on a medication and gaining weight. You could switch to another drug that won’t add more pounds or your doctor may have suggestions on how to manage the reason why you are gaining weight. Ask how to manage side effects such as increased appetite or water retention.
- Your lifestyle takes over your weight loss journey
Your 50s and beyond may be a time you are hitting the pinnacle in your career, but also caring for aging parents and guiding young adult children into adulthood. Being pulled in several directions can leave you feeling stressed and constantly pressed for time.
Stress during middle age can trigger the hormone cortisol, which is typically to blame for weight gain, according to The Mirror. While you may not be able to eliminate stress or feeling rushed during this period in your life, you can try some mindful meditating or deep breathing when you feel overwhelmed.