For many people, maintaining a healthy weight or losing excess body fat can become harder as the years go by.
Unhealthy habits, a mostly sedentary lifestyle, poor dietary choices, and metabolic changes can all contribute to weight gain after the age of 50.
However, with a few simple adjustments, you can lose weight at any age — regardless of your physical capabilities or medical diagnoses.
Here are the 20 best ways to lose weight after 50.
1. Learn to enjoy strength training
Although cardio gets a lot of attention when it comes to weight loss, strength training is also important, especially for older adults.
As you age, your muscle mass declines in a process called sarcopenia. This loss of muscle mass begins around the age of 50 and can slow your metabolism, which may lead to weight gain.
After the age of 50, your muscle mass decreases by about 1–2% per year, while your muscle strength declines at a rate of 1.5–5% per year.
Thus, adding muscle-building exercises to your routine is essential for reducing age-related muscle loss and promoting a healthy body weight.
Strength training, such as bodyweight exercises and weightlifting, can significantly improve muscle strength and increase muscle size and function.
Plus, strength training can help you lose weight by reducing body fat and boosting your metabolism, which can increase how many calories you burn throughout the day.
2. Team up
Introducing a healthy eating pattern or exercise routine on your own can be challenging. Pairing up with a friend, co-worker, or family member may give you a better chance of sticking to your plan and achieving your wellness goals.
For example, research shows that those who attend weight loss programs with friends are significantly more likely to maintain their weight loss over time.
Additionally, working out with friends can strengthen your commitment to a fitness program and make exercising more enjoyable.
3. Sit less and move more
Burning more calories than you take in is critical to losing excess body fat. That’s why being more active throughout the day is important when trying to lose weight.
For example, sitting at your job for long periods might impede your weight loss efforts. To counteract this, you can become more active at work by simply getting up from your desk and taking a five-minute walk every hour.
Research shows that tracking your steps using a pedometer or Fitbit can boost weight loss by increasing your activity levels and calorie expenditure.
When using a pedometer or Fitbit, start with a realistic step goal based on your current activity levels. Then gradually work your way up to 7,000–10,000 steps per day or more, depending on your overall health.
4. Bump up your protein intake
Getting enough high-quality protein in your diet is not only important for weight loss but also critical for stopping or reversing age-related muscle loss.
How many calories you burn at rest, or your resting metabolic rate (RMR), decreases by 1–2% each decade after you turn 20. This is associated with age-related muscle loss.
However, eating a protein-rich diet can help prevent or even reverse muscle loss. Numerous studies have also shown that increasing dietary protein can help you lose weight and keep it off in the long term.
Plus, research shows that older adults have higher protein needs than younger adults, making it all the more important to add protein-rich foods to your meals and snacks.
5. Talk to a dietitian
Finding an eating pattern that both promotes weight loss and nourishes your body can be difficult.
Consulting a registered dietitian can help you determine the best way to lose excess body fat without having to follow an overly restrictive diet. In addition, a dietitian can support and guide you throughout your weight loss journey.
Research shows that working with a dietitian to lose weight can lead to significantly better results than going at it alone, and it may help you maintain the weight loss over time.
6. Cook more at home
Numerous studies have demonstrated that people who prepare and eat more meals at home tend to follow a healthier diet and weigh less than those who don’t.
Cooking meals at home allows you to control what goes in — and what stays out — of your recipes. It also lets you experiment with unique, healthy ingredients that pique your interest.
If you eat most meals out of the house, start by cooking one or two meals per week at home, then gradually increase this number until you’re cooking at home more than you eat out.
7. Eat more produce
Vegetables and fruits are packed with nutrients that are vital to your health, and adding them to your diet is a simple, evidence-based way to drop excess weight.
For example, a review of 10 studies found that every daily serving increase of vegetables was associated with a 0.14-inch (0.36-cm) waist circumference reduction in women.
Another study in 26,340 men and women aged 35–65 associated eating fruits and vegetables with lower body weight, reduced waist circumference, and less body fat.
8. Hire a personal trainer
Working with a personal trainer can especially benefit those who are new to working out by teaching you the correct way to exercise to promote weight loss and avoid injury.
Plus, personal trainers can motivate you to work out more by keeping you accountable. They may even improve your attitude about exercising.
A 10-week study of 129 adults showed that one-on-one personal training for 1 hour per week increased motivation to exercise and increased physical activity levels.
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9. Rely less on convenience foods
Regularly eating convenience foods, such as fast food, candy, and processed snacks, is associated with weight gain and may hinder your weight loss efforts.
Convenience foods are typically high in calories and tend to be low in important nutrients like protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. That’s why fast food and other processed foods are commonly referred to as “empty calories.”
Cutting back on convenience foods and replacing them with nutritious meals and snacks that revolve around nutrient-dense whole foods is a smart way to lose weight.
10. Find an activity that you love
Finding an exercise routine that you can maintain long-term can be difficult. This is why it’s important to engage in activities that you enjoy.
For example, if you like group activities, sign up for a group sport like soccer or a running club so you can exercise with others regularly.
If solo activities are more your style, try biking, walking, hiking, or swimming on your own.
11. Get checked by a healthcare provider
If you are struggling to lose weight even though you’re active and follow a healthy diet, ruling out conditions that may make it difficult to lose weight — like hypothyroidism and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) — may be warranted.
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This may be especially true if you have family members with these conditions.
Tell your healthcare provider about your symptoms so they can decide the best testing protocol to rule out medical conditions that may be behind your weight loss struggles.
12. Eat a whole-foods-based diet
One of the simplest ways to ensure that you give your body the nutrients it needs to thrive is by following a diet rich in whole foods.
Whole foods, including vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, poultry, fish, legumes, and grains, are packed with nutrients essential for maintaining healthy body weight, such as fiber, protein, and healthy fats.
In many studies, whole-foods-based diets, both plant-based diets and those that include animal products, have been associated with weight loss.
13. Eat less at night
Many studies have shown that eating fewer calories at night may help you maintain healthy body weight and lose excess body fat.
A study on 1,245 people found that over 6 years, those who consumed more calories at dinner were over 2 times more likely to become obese than people who ate more calories earlier in the day.
Plus, those who ate more calories at dinner were significantly more likely to develop metabolic syndrome, a group of conditions including high blood sugar and excess belly fat. Metabolic syndrome increases your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.
Eating the majority of your calories during breakfast and lunch, while enjoying a lighter dinner, may be a worthwhile method to promote weight loss.
14. Focus on body composition
Although body weight is a good indicator of health, your body composition — meaning the percentages of fat and fat-free mass in your body — is important as well.
Muscle mass is an important measure of overall health, especially in older adults. Packing on more muscle and losing excess fat should be your goal.
There are many ways to measure your body fat percentage. However, simply measuring your waist, biceps, calves, chest, and thighs can help you determine if you’re losing fat and gaining muscle.
15. Hydrate the healthy way
Drinks like sweetened coffee beverages, soda, juices, sports drinks, and pre-made smoothies are often packed with calories and added sugars.
Drinking sugar-sweetened beverages, especially those sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup, is strongly linked to weight gain and conditions like obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and fatty liver disease.
Swapping sugary beverages with healthy drinks like water and herbal tea can help you lose weight and may significantly reduce your risk of developing the chronic conditions mentioned above.
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16. Choose the right supplements
If you feel fatigued and unmotivated, taking the right supplements may help give you the energy you need to reach your goals.
As you grow older, your ability to absorb certain nutrients declines, increasing your risk of deficiencies. For example, research shows that adults over 50 are commonly deficient in folate and vitamin B12, two nutrients that are needed for energy production.
Deficiencies in B vitamins like B12 can negatively impact your mood, cause fatigue, and hinder weight loss.
For this reason, it’s a good idea for those over 50 to take a high-quality B-complex vitamin to help decrease the risk of deficiency.
17. Limit added sugars
Limiting foods high in added sugar, including sweetened beverages, candy, cakes, cookies, ice cream, sweetened yogurts, and sugary cereals, is critical for weight loss at any age.
Because sugar is added to so many foods, including items that you wouldn’t expect like tomato sauce, salad dressing, and bread, reading ingredient labels is the best way to determine if an item contains added sugar.
Look for “added sugars” on the nutrition facts label or search the ingredient list for common sweeteners such as cane sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, and agave.
Suggested read: Why sugar is bad for you
18. Improve your sleep quality
Not getting enough quality sleep may harm your weight loss efforts. Many studies have shown that not getting enough sleep increases the likelihood of obesity and may hinder weight loss efforts.
For example, a 2-year study of 245 women demonstrated that those who slept 7 hours per night or more were 33% more likely to lose weight than women who slept less than 7 hours per night. Better sleep quality was also associated with weight loss success.
Aim to get the recommended 7–9 hours of sleep per night and improve your sleep quality by minimizing light in your bedroom and avoiding using your phone or watching TV before bed.
19. Try out intermittent fasting
Intermittent fasting is a type of eating pattern in which you only eat during a specified period. The most popular type of intermittent fasting is the 16/8 method, where you eat within an 8-hour window followed by a 16-hour fast.
Numerous studies have shown that intermittent fasting promotes weight loss.
What’s more, some test-tube and animal studies suggest that intermittent fasting may benefit older adults by increasing longevity, slowing cell decline, and preventing age-related changes to mitochondria, the energy-producing parts of your cells.
20. Be more mindful
Mindful eating can be a simple way to improve your relationship with food, all while encouraging weight loss.
Mindful eating involves paying more attention to your food and eating patterns. It gives you a better understanding of your hunger and fullness cues, as well as how food impacts your mood and well-being.
Many studies have noted that using mindful eating techniques promotes weight loss and improves eating behaviors.
There are no specific rules to mindful eating, but eating slowly, paying attention to the aroma and flavor of each bite of food, and keeping track of how you feel during your meals are simple ways to introduce mindful eating to your life.
Though weight loss may seem to get more difficult with age, many evidence-based strategies can help you achieve and maintain healthy body weight after turning 50.
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.
Try out the tips above, and before you know it, weight loss after 50 will seem like a breeze.