The 12 Best Ways to Lose Weight After 50 (2022)

You hear all these stories about how it's harder to lose weight after age 50 than it was earlier in life. While there are some biological factors that can make it harder to take off extra weight in your 50s and beyond, some of what's keeping the weight on is that your lifestyle has changed.

That means that it doesn't have to be a giant uphill battle to lose weight after age 50. Sometimes, a few lifestyle changes are enough to get the scale moving the way you want it to. In order to get a feel for what kind of changes to make, it's helpful, first, to look at what's going on inside.

First off, what happens in your 50s that might not be helping you lose weight? In addition to a different lifestyle than you had in your 20s and 30s (fewer pickup basketball games, less time of your own, maybe even more time sitting down at work, to name a few), your body might be acting a little differently now. “As you age, your metabolism starts to slow down, and a lot of your metabolism functions and organs and absorption—everything just gets a little less efficient,” says Katherine L Tucker, Ph.D., professor of nutritional epidemiology and director of the Center for Population Health at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell. You now need fewer calories than ever just to maintain your body mass, let alone reduce it.

What’s more, as you age, the quality of muscle starts to change from being mostly muscle fibers to a combination of fat and muscle within the muscle fiber, says Stephen Anton, Ph.D., associate professor and chief of the Division of Clinical Research at the University of Florida College of Medicine’s Department of Aging and Geriatric Research. “After age 50, the process of your muscles being infiltrated by fat accelerates,” he says. The result? You may feel more easily fatigued. Your metabolism starts to slow down, and you lose muscle mass, making it harder to keep fat from piling on. In fact, a 50-year-old man requires about 100 fewer calories a day than a 20-year-old guy of the same weight, calculates Steven Heymsfield, M.D., of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center. "If you don't compensate for that, then your weight will drift upward," he says. That's not exactly what you wanted to hear, but here's something to keep in mind: 100 calories isn't a lot. Replace an energy bar snack with an orange and—depending on the energy bar and the orange, of course—you've likely already trimmed those 100 calories out of your life. So while it's not fun to think about eating less, changing the type of food you eat can get you where you're going without being a downer.

The bottom line is that you can still lose weight after age 50 (and beyond)—but you will have to put in a more deliberate effort than you used to. Deliberate, yes. Impossibly hard? Not at all. Use these simple strategies to shed the extra pounds.

1) Eat more fruits and vegetables

To lose weight, you obviously need to take in fewer calories than you expend. But instead of focusing on what to eat less of, let’s talk about what to eat more of. First up, fruits and vegetables. In a study from Harvard, people who increased their intake of fruits and vegetables lost weight, especially if they ate more berries, apples, pears, soy, or cauliflower. Fruits and vegetables are low in calories but rich in important vitamins and minerals you need more of as you age, including fiber, which can keep you full between meals, says Tucker.

She recommends piling vegetables over half your plate at every meal. Keep frozen vegetables in your freezer so you never run out (here's the best way to freeze extra veggies yourself), and get creative with your salads by adding olives, cheese, or sliced oranges to make them more palatable. Check out our favorite breakfast saladsyes, breakfast salads—for more inspiration (sweet potato, spinach, and an egg is definitely breakfast!). Holly F. Lofton, M.D., director of the Medical Weight Management Program at NYU Langone Health, recommends "easy" vegetables: "Try ones you can just wash, cook, and eat, like asparagus and broccoli," she says. Of course, you don't even have to cook baby carrots.

The 12 Best Ways to Lose Weight After 50 (1)

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2) Use all those beans you bought

Beans are packed with filling fiber and protein, and as they travel through your digestive system, their roughage and resistant starch feeds the good bacteria in your gut, says Tucker. These bacteria in turn create short-chain fatty acids, which are helpful in protecting your metabolism. A study review from Canada shows that people who ate a serving of legumes every day as part of a weight-loss effort lost a couple pounds in just an average of six weeks. Try making beans or lentils in an Instant Pot, which allows you to stew legumes with vegetables and other flavorful components and make enough for the whole family. Expand your repertoire by trying new types of beans—discover your healthiest choices here.

3) Befriend your bathroom scale

Weigh yourself each morning so you notice right away if the number is trending up instead of down. “If you gain weight, and if you focus on it early and it’s only a few pounds, you can lose it quickly, but if you let it stay, basically it reprograms your body at a higher weight and it makes it hard to lose because you get hungry,” Tucker says. Especially if you want to lose weight over 50, it's useful to jump on any gain right away. Learn more about the benefits of weighing yourself daily.

4) Focus on your food

Between 15 conference calls, appointments with your accountant, and all the other obligations facing the modern 50-something man, you might not be giving your meals the respect they deserve. “People on the go tend to overeat,” says Bettina Mittendorfer, Ph.D., a research associate professor of medicine at Washington University in St. Louis, but eating slowly and mindfully can help your weight-loss efforts. Instead of shoveling in lunch between meetings, plate your food, take a seat, and chew slowly so that you enjoy each bite. Adding crunchy elements to your meal, such as sliced jicama or cabbage, can also help you slow down and eat less. One more thing: Use Netflix as an after-dinner treat. Eating in front of the TV is associated with weight gain, according to research published in the journal Obesity.

The 12 Best Ways to Lose Weight After 50 (2)

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If you're traveling these days, beware that it's another danger zone for mindless eating. Especially if you're one of those people who eats when food is presented to you, says Dr. Lofton. She recommends that you carry with you something easy that you eat once a day—so pack your standard breakfast or something easy and nutritious for lunch. (See how one guy who drove 15,000 miles in 4 months stayed healthy.) "This creates some structure when you're in situations where you don't have as much control over meals," she says.

5) Stop drinking sugar

Sugary foods and drinks fill you with calories—about 150 calories in a can of Pepsi, for example—but they don’t satisfy your appetite, which men over 50 undoubtedly have figured out by now. “A soda goes down quickly,” says Mittendorfer. “Eat the equivalent in a salad, and you’ll stay full longer.” (You’d have to eat more kale than you can stomach to hit 150 calories.) Among the benefits: People who stop drinking soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages gain less weight over time than those who do, a study review from Australia suggests. Even smoothies and juices can contribute lots of sugar to your body, Dr. Lofton points out. (Unless it's one of these healthy weight loss smoothies, but you still have to plan for them.) It's better to have the whole fruit than just the juice.

6) Mix up your workouts

If you’ve been leaning on one type of exercise up to this point, now is the time to mix it up. In a recent study from the University of Illinois at Chicago and Iowa State University, older people who did a combination of 30 minutes of aerobic exercise and 30 minutes of resistance exercise three days per week reduced their body fat percentage and gained muscle. (They also showed improvements in blood pressure and cardiorespiratory fitness; important boosts to an aging heart.)

Resistance training is particularly effective in helping you build muscle, which burns more calories than fat, and aerobic training is particularly effective for helping you lose fat, says study author Elizabeth Schroeder, a doctoral candidate. “Together, they lead to a favorable body composition change and increasing strength and fitness with aging leads to a better quality of life and maintained independence,” she says.

For strength, “focus training on the legs and large muscle groups of the upper body with compound lifts, such as squats, deadlifts, bench press, and pull-ups,” Anton says. “These lifts engage more muscle groups than isolated lifts and typically lead to a greater increase in muscle gains while stimulating fat metabolism.” (And check out our guide to resistance training for beginners.) For cardio, find something you enjoy, whether it’s running, cycling, swimming, or walking. Branch out and check out the best cardio workouts that aren’t running.

Even better than a steady-state cardio workout is interval training, which combines periods of intense work followed by periods of lighter activity. If it’s been a while since you worked out, consult a personal trainer to assess your mobility so you know where to start.

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7) Discover a new way to eat

Here's a different way to think about how much you eat: Kristin Kirkpatrick, R.D.N., consultant for integrative and lifestyle medicine for the Cleveland Clinic, recommends to her clients this: Stop eating when you're no longer hungry. Not when you're "full." Could be a game changer. Find out more about it here.

8) Try intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting might sound intense, but it just means that you eat methodically during a certain period of the day instead of eating whenever you want. That naturally limits the amount you eat, and some experts think no-food windows are good for your health, too.

You might start by just going eight or nine hours—including your sleeping hours—without eating. So from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m., you don’t eat. Simple enough, right? Then you can gradually train yourself to go 12 hours without food. “A few good male friends and family members who have practiced intermittent fasting have raved about the benefits in terms of reducing belly fat and improving energy levels,” Anton says. This type of eating pattern isn’t for everyone, so ask your doctor first.

The 12 Best Ways to Lose Weight After 50 (4)

9) Start a yoga practice

Yoga can help you enhance and maintain mobility when you're over 50, and its calming effect can be beneficial when you’re trying to lose weight, Anton says. You probably won’t meet your weight loss goals with yoga alone, but it can be a helpful habit in tandem with others. Researchers in China found that older people who practiced yoga for a year shed about a centimeter off their waist circumference—a key marker of belly fat.

10) Check what you're taking

"Many men over 50 are on some type of medication," says Dr. Lofton. "It's good to review the weight gain potential of medicines you are taking with your health care provider," she says, if you feel you're doing everything and still not losing. Sometimes, your meds can be changed to avoid that side effect.

(Video) Tips for Weight Loss After 50 (Changing Habits)

11) Swap junky snacks for nuts

Make nuts your go-to snack, and you might fend off age-related weight creep, suggests research from Harvard. “What we observed was that on average, adults tend to gradually gain weight over time,” said Deirdre K Tobias, Sc.D., an associate epidemiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School. “However, those who added nuts to their diet had less long-term gradual weight gain and were ultimately at a lower risk of developing obesity.” For every half serving of nuts people ate per day, they gained less weight over the next four years and had a lower risk of obesity over the next 20 to 24 years.

12) Opt for whole grains

Oats, barley, quinoa—they’re all good. In a Tufts University study, when people between ages 40 and 65 ate whole grains instead of refined grains such as white bread, they burned more calories and excreted more fat (yes, in their poop). Whole grains contain fiber, which promotes the growth of a diverse mix of bacteria in your gut, which may help your metabolism.

If you’re not in love with the flavor of whole grains, try different brands of whole grain bread, whole grain pasta, whole grain rice, and more until you find the right fit. “My best strategy for this is to eat the new food you want to learn to like when you are hungry, says study author Susan B. Roberts, Ph.D., Director of the Energy Metabolism Laboratory at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University. “You don’t have to eat huge amounts at first, but your hunger will accelerate changing taste preferences so that soon, the stronger taste is something you really enjoy.”

Julie Stewart

Julie Stewart is a writer and content strategist whose work has also appeared in Health, and Women’s Health, Everyday Health, Vice, and Shape.

Marty Munson

(Video) HEALTHY EATING AFTER 50: Did you know that your food needs change as you age? Must watch this video

Marty Munson, currently the health director of Men's Health, has been a health editor at properties including Marie Claire, Prevention, Shape and RealAge. She's also certified as a swim and triathlon coach.

FAQs

What is the secret to losing weight after 50? ›

The bottom line

Cutting out added sugars, incorporating strength training into your workouts, eating more protein, cooking meals at home, and following a whole-foods-based diet are just some of the methods you can use to improve your overall health and lose excess body fat.

How do you get rid of belly fat after 50? ›

Trimming the fat
  1. Eat a healthy diet. Focus on plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and choose lean sources of protein and low-fat dairy products. ...
  2. Replace sugary beverages. ...
  3. Keep portion sizes in check. ...
  4. Include physical activity in your daily routine.

How can I Kickstart My weight after 50? ›

Effortless Ways to Jumpstart Your Weight Loss Goals After 50, Say Dietitians
  1. Switch to oatmeal.
  2. Replace sugary drinks with water.
  3. Include high-protein foods.
  4. Eat fewer calories at night.
  5. Add fiber.
  6. Make exercise a daily routine.
  7. Track your macros.
  8. Drink lemon water.
23 Mar 2022

What are the 5 foods that burn belly fat? ›

7 Foods that Burn Belly Fat
  • Beans. “Becoming a bean lover can help you lose weight and whittle your middle,” registered dietitian Cynthia Sass told Today. ...
  • Swap your beef for salmon. ...
  • Yogurt. ...
  • Red bell peppers. ...
  • Broccoli. ...
  • Edamame. ...
  • Diluted vinegar.

Which exercise burns the most belly fat? ›

Crunches:

The most effective exercise to burn stomach fat is crunches. Crunches rank top when we talk of fat-burning exercises. You can start by lying down flat with your knees bent and your feet on the ground.

What drink burns belly fat overnight? ›

Pineapple JuicePineapple juice is believed to be a great remedy for belly fat. An important enzyme called bromelain which is found in the juice of pineapple helps in metabolizing protein and burns away excess stomach fat.

How can a woman over 50 get a flat stomach? ›

Secret to a Flat Belly? For Women Over 50 - YouTube

Does walking reduce belly fat? ›

One of the most effective ways to reduce belly fat is to regularly take part in aerobic exercise, such as walking ( 19 , 20 ). In one small study, women with obesity who walked for 50–70 minutes three times per week for 12 weeks, on average, reduced their waist circumference and their body fat.

What causes belly fat in females over 50? ›

The hormonal changes of menopause might make you more likely to gain weight around your abdomen than around your hips and thighs. But, hormonal changes alone don't necessarily cause menopause weight gain. Instead, the weight gain is usually related to aging, as well as lifestyle and genetic factors.

Can you get rid of menopause belly? ›

To attack belly fat and any other menopause weight gain, you'll need to burn between 400 and 500 calories most days of the week from cardiovascular exercise, such as walking briskly, jogging, bicycling, dancing, or swimming, Peeke says.

What should a 50 year old woman eat to lose weight? ›

It's best to eat a large breakfast, a moderate lunch, and a light dinner. Eat more lean protein, like fish, chicken, eggs and even tofu. That fills you for the day and helps you build muscle mass, and in turn, boosts your metabolism.

Can a woman over 50 lose belly fat? ›

With Extra Effort, You Can Lose Belly Fat

You may think you can't lose belly fat after 50, but really it just takes more exercise and dietary diligence than it did when you were younger. As you age, your energy expenditure lowers because you naturally lose lean muscle mass, which burns more calories than fat.

Can a 50 year old woman lose weight by walking? ›

What's more, walking is the ultimate do-anywhere activity that people in their 50s and over can do regularly without worrying much about excess pressure on the muscles and joints or increased risk of injury, fractures or falls. And, believe it or not, it's also a great way to burn fat, lose weight, and get lean.

Why do some people get thinner as they get older? ›

There are several reasons this can occur in seniors, including the natural aging process. After the age of 30, people usually experience muscle atrophy, loss of cells in the liver and kidneys, and bones become less dense. Additionally, tissue loss reduces the amount of water in the body.

What are the 2 vegetables that destroy stomach fat? ›

"A study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that dark green veggies, like broccoli, may help reduce belly fat," says Amidor. Bonus: "The study also found that these veggies may also decrease risk factors for type 2 diabetes." "Beans are the ultimate weight loss food," says Hever.

What two vegetables burn belly fat overnight? ›

Spinach and other leafy green vegetables like kale, lettuce, etc. are great for burning belly fat and are very nutritious as well. There have been some studies done on the subject of the fat burning capabilities of spinach and the very healthy veggie has come out a winner in this category.

Does lemon water help you lose weight? ›

Lemon water can promote fullness, support hydration, boost metabolism and increase weight loss. However, lemon water is no better than regular water when it comes to losing fat. That being said, it is tasty, easy to make and can be used as a low-calorie replacement for higher-calorie beverages.

What burns fat while you sleep? ›

1. Lemon: Although one might think lemons to be acidic because of their sharp and sour taste, this citrus fruit actually has an incredible alkalizing effect on the body. This is great for the health of our liver, which in turns aids digestion, boosts metabolism and burns fat while we sleep.

Does drinking water help lose weight? ›

Water can be really helpful for weight loss. It is 100% calorie-free, helps you burn more calories and may even suppress your appetite if consumed before meals. The benefits are even greater when you replace sugary beverages with water.

What can I drink to burn belly fat fast? ›

Weight loss drinks: 5 amazing natural drinks to melt belly fat
  1. Cucumber, lemon and ginger water. ...
  2. Cinnamon and honey water. ...
  3. Green Tea. ...
  4. Vegetable juice. ...
  5. Dates and banana drink.
27 Apr 2017

What should I drink first thing in the morning? ›

10 Healthy Morning Drinks to Get Your Day Started
  • Honey and cinnamon drink. Have a glass of honey and cinnamon drink first thing in the morning. ...
  • Lemon Juice. ...
  • Cinnamon Green Tea. ...
  • Coconut water. ...
  • Aloe juice. ...
  • Pomegranate tea. ...
  • Fruit smoothies. ...
  • Green tea lassi.
29 Oct 2021

Which fruits should be avoided for weight loss? ›

Worst Fruit for Weight Loss
  • Bananas. Bananas are a great replacement for a pre-workout energy bar which is why you often see professional tennis players snacking on them in between games. ...
  • Mango. Mangos are one of the most commonly consumed fruits in the world. ...
  • Grapes. ...
  • Pomegranate. ...
  • Apples. ...
  • Blueberries. ...
  • Watermelon. ...
  • Lemon.
26 Mar 2019

What exercise is best for over 50? ›

Staying Fit as You Age
  • Aerobic exercise. Walking, jogging, swimming, and dance exercise are good ones to try. ...
  • Strength training. Lifting hand weights improves your strength and posture, maintains bone strength, reduces the risk of lower back injury, and also helps you tone. ...
  • Stretching.

How does apple cider vinegar help with belly fat? ›

About 100 grams of apple cider vinegar has about 22 calories, which means it makes for a low-calorie drink that can help boost weight loss. Adding a tablespoon of ACV into a glassful of water and drinking first thing in the morning may help burn belly fat.

How do I get rid of hormonal belly fat? ›

Reducing belly fat requires a person to treat the underlying cause. A combination of diet and exercise may help symptoms. A person can perform exercises that burn fat, such as running, walking, and other aerobic activity. Reducing the calories a person consumes can also help.

How much do I need to walk daily to lose weight? ›

People interested in walking for weight loss should consistently hit at least 10,000 steps each day. Some people may even want to increase their total number of steps beyond this amount. However, any steps that a person takes beyond their normal daily step count can help them lose weight.

How much should I walk a week to lose weight? ›

How Much Should You Walk to Lose Weight. To lose weight walking, you need to walk at a moderate pace for 30 or more minutes at least 5 days a week. 2 However, walking for longer periods of time at a more vigorous intensity can lead to better results.

What is the best time to walk to lose weight? ›

5 AM to 7 AM is the best time for any exercise, including walking.

What should a 50 year old woman eat to lose weight? ›

It's best to eat a large breakfast, a moderate lunch, and a light dinner. Eat more lean protein, like fish, chicken, eggs and even tofu. That fills you for the day and helps you build muscle mass, and in turn, boosts your metabolism.

What causes belly fat in females over 50? ›

The hormonal changes of menopause might make you more likely to gain weight around your abdomen than around your hips and thighs. But, hormonal changes alone don't necessarily cause menopause weight gain. Instead, the weight gain is usually related to aging, as well as lifestyle and genetic factors.

Can you get rid of menopause belly? ›

To attack belly fat and any other menopause weight gain, you'll need to burn between 400 and 500 calories most days of the week from cardiovascular exercise, such as walking briskly, jogging, bicycling, dancing, or swimming, Peeke says.

Is it harder to lose weight in your 50s? ›

Losing weight after age 50 really is more challenging. The reasons are a mix of lifestyle and physiological factors that combine to make dropping a few pounds more onerous than it was at 35 or 40 (not that it was easy then).

What should a 50 year old woman eat for breakfast? ›

What Is a Good Breakfast for Seniors?
  • Avocado Toast. This simple meal is common with young people today, but it's great for older folks as well. ...
  • Tofu Scramble. ...
  • Hummus and English Muffins. ...
  • Fruit Salad. ...
  • French Toast. ...
  • Green Smoothies. ...
  • Cauliflower Hash Browns. ...
  • Oatmeal with Fruit.
10 Jun 2020

What vitamins help speed up metabolism? ›

Supplements to increase metabolism

B-complex vitamins: These help metabolize carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, activating stored energy instead of letting it turn to fat. Niacin, vitamin B-6, and iron: This impressive trio increases your body's production of the amino acid L-carnitine to help burn fat.

How can I speed up my metabolism after menopause? ›

Good Exercise Choices After Menopause

Strength training, or a weight-resistance exercise program, helps build muscle mass and improve metabolism. Strength training also helps you maintain bone mass. Because you lose muscle mass as you age, add strength training to your workouts, if you haven't before.

Does walking reduce belly fat? ›

One of the most effective ways to reduce belly fat is to regularly take part in aerobic exercise, such as walking ( 19 , 20 ). In one small study, women with obesity who walked for 50–70 minutes three times per week for 12 weeks, on average, reduced their waist circumference and their body fat.

How do you get rid of a hanging belly? ›

Cardio such as swimming, aerobics, running or dancing will burn this excess fat store. HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) is the fastest way to trim down stomach fat.

What is the fastest way to lose weight during menopause? ›

Some of the most important changes to consider when trying to lose weight during menopause:
  1. Cut calories. ...
  2. Power up on protein; cut back on carbs. ...
  3. Get more fiber. ...
  4. Mix up your cardio. ...
  5. Don't skimp on strength training. ...
  6. Get good shut eye.
14 Sept 2022

What is the average weight gain during menopause? ›

According to the Healthy Women Study, the average weight gain in perimenopausal women was about five pounds; however, 20 percent of the population they studied gained 10 pounds or more. Not only is the weight increase from a drop in estrogen, but it's also due to a decrease in energy expenditure.

What are the signs of coming to the end of menopause? ›

What are the symptoms of postmenopause?
  • Hot flashes and night sweats.
  • Vaginal dryness and sexual discomfort.
  • Depression.
  • Changes in sex drive.
  • Insomnia.
  • Dry skin.
  • Weight changes.
  • Hair loss.
5 Oct 2021

How many calories does a 50 year old woman need to lose weight? ›

Calorie Needs

In general, women at age 50 need 1,650 to 2,100 calories each day to maintain their weight. To lose weight, cut 500 to 1,000 calories per day, which allows you to lose 1 to 2 pounds per week.

Can a woman over 50 lose belly fat? ›

With Extra Effort, You Can Lose Belly Fat

You may think you can't lose belly fat after 50, but really it just takes more exercise and dietary diligence than it did when you were younger. As you age, your energy expenditure lowers because you naturally lose lean muscle mass, which burns more calories than fat.

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