How to Lose Weight Over 50

Overview

After the age of 50, the human body is less able to tolerate the behavior that it allowed in younger years. If you are over 50 and need to lose weight, you have to do it differently now. Back in the day, maybe you could eat and drink whatever you wanted and not gain weight. Or perhaps you gained weight, but could easily lose it. After age 50 though, the body is more demanding and needs to be treated with love and respect. Many folks don’t want to admit that they have reached middle age and continue to behave as if they were still in their 20s. That denial is unhealthy, ineffective and results in weight loss frustration.

Step 1

Skip the alcohol. Not only is alcohol packed with extra calories, it “releases estrogen into your bloodstream, promotes fat storage and decreases muscle growth” according to Jillian Michaels, “Biggest Loser” strength trainer and author of “Master Your Metabolism.” It makes you hungry and impairs your judgment when it comes to making healthy food choices. Plus it makes you sluggish and unmotivated to exercise. If you must imbibe, limit it to one, and then switch to water.

Step 2

Eat clean and watch your portion sizes. Respect your aging digestive system. It works slower now and is unable to digest non-food and junk food. Include a variety of raw and properly cooked organic vegetables and stick to lean protein, like organic chicken and turkey, and non-farm raised fish.

Step 3

Get your rest. Sleep is a basic necessity and plays a critical role in weight loss, according to the American Council on Exercise. Research conducted by the Integrative Cardiac Health Project at Walter Reed Army Medical Center confirmed that even though overweight subjects were more active than their normal-weight counterparts, they did not lose weight when they were a “short sleeper” versus a “long sleeper.” After age 50, you cannot skip sleep for any reason and expect to lose weight.

Step 4

Add strength training to your routine. Muscles are metabolically active, so the more lean muscle mass you have on your frame, the more calories you burn throughout the day, even at rest. After 50, sarcopenia, or the loss of muscle, accelerates and strength training is the only way to maintain and increase muscle mass. Start with one hour, three times a week. Work up to five times a week for best results.

Step 5

Cardiovascular conditioning is necessary to burn calories, strengthen your heart and lungs and increase muscular endurance. For best results, include cross training with a variety of cardio exercises and machines and interval training, which peaks the heart rate then allows it to recover, peak and recover. Start with 20 to 30 minutes, working up to 45 minutes at 70 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate.

Tips and Warnings

  • You can lose weight after 50, but you have to be ready to step out of your comfort zone and try new methods. Don’t be upset about or resentful of your aging body, but instead honor it by giving it clean fuel and proper exercise. Get your rest and drink lots of water. You have many years left to live and the better you treat your body now, the better your body will treat you in your 60s, 70s and beyond.
  • If you’re new to strength training, consider hiring a personal trainer who specializes in weight loss over 50. Even if you have strength trained in the past, a lot has changed since your glory days and a trainer can jump-start the weight-loss process.

About this Author

Becky Miller, an ACE-certified personal trainer, has designed strength training programs for “real” people of all ages and fitness levels since 2001. She specializes in empowering women of the baby-boomer generation. Her writing career began in 2004, authoring weekly fitness columns and feature articles for the “Navarre Press” in Florida. She earned her Bachelor of Science in b