Do you need help losing weight after 50? If so, then you are in the right place. Losing weight is a daunting experience at any age but perhaps even more so for older people. You may think and feel that you are not as strong or capable as you would have been a couple of decades ago but this should not stop you. While we will not say that losing weight after 50 is easy, it is not at any age, we can tell you that with the following tips and tricks you shall be looking your best in no time.
In this article we shall be looking at how many calories you need to eat to help you lose weight, what kinds of workouts are best suited for you and your goals, what kind of diet is best for losing weight after 50, and other frequently asked questions relating to this.
Why Is Losing Weight After 50 So Hard For Men And Women?
If you have tried and failed over and over again to lose weight after 50 please know that you are not alone. Many people find it rather hard to shed the extra kilograms all due to one or more of the following reasons (1, 12):
After the age of 30, the amount of lean muscle decreases by 3% to 8% with every passing decade. While muscle loss may not seem like it is related to weight gain, we must remember that a pound of muscle burns six to seven calories more calories than fat a day, even while the body is at rest.
As you lose muscle, your body continues to burn less calories, which means that you tend to store any extra calories in the body as fat which leads to weight gain and going up in jeans sizes every few years (or months).
After the loss of muscle mass comes the dreaded slow metabolism. According to Harvard Medical School, metabolism is important to weight loss because those who have a higher/faster metabolism often burn more calories at rest and during activity and are less likely to gain weight even when eating large amounts of food.
If you have a low or slow metabolism, your body does not burn calories as fast and thus you have to adjust your food energy intake to counter this (6). As stated above, when you lose muscle as you get older, your body loses the ability to burn calories as well and fast as it did before. Failure to take note of this and adjust your calorie intake and maintain muscle mass will lead to weight gain.
Please note that muscle loss is not the only thing that can lead to a slower metabolism. Other factors such as genetics, hormones, lack of sleep, medication, and even type of diet can affect your metabolism (3).
A More Sedentary Lifestyle
As we get older, our bodies get weaker, meaning that we can no longer be as active as we were before. Even if you are not weaker now, you have more responsibilities such as children or a career that could prevent you from having a lot of time to and for yourself.
A more sedentary lifestyle means less time to move around and exercise and could even lead to making bad food choices like eating less healthy foods and drinking more; all factors that make gaining weight easier and losing it that much harder.
A decline in estrogen and testosterone can make losing weight after 50 for men and women that much harder. Menopause causes estrogen levels to drop, which causes weight gain and fat accumulation, especially around the midsection. This leads to losing weight after 50 female to have a much harder time.
As for men, their testosterone levels start dropping at the rate of 1% to 2% a year after the age of 40. This makes it harder for their bodies to burn calories effectively or hold on to muscle strength and mass.
Which Is The Best Diet For Losing Weight After 50?
In today’s world there are way too many diets that have been touted as being the best to help you get rid of all those excess pounds that could be taking a toll on your health and self-confidence. Before we let you in on which losing weight after 50 diet that we think could be best for you, we must first discuss the importance of calories in weight loss.
How Many Calories A Day To Lose Weight?
We all understand the importance of calories in weight loss, gain, or maintenance. If not then you need to understand that for you to lose weight you cannot consume more calories than you burn. Doing this will only lead to weight gain and for you to see that number go down on your weighing scale, you are required to eat less calories a day than what you burn.
So, how many calories are required for losing weight after 50? Well, it depends. The recommended food energy intake usually depends on factors such as age, size, height, sex, lifestyle, and overall general health of and individual.
According to the National Institute on Aging, the amount of calories needed to maintain your weight at and after 50 years are (16):
For women who are:
- Sedentary or not physically active – 1600 calories
- Moderately active – 1800 calories
- Very active – 2,000 to 2200 calories
Suggestions for men who are:
- Sedentary or not physically active – 2000 to 2200 calories
- Moderately active – 2200 to 2400 calories
- Very active – 2400 to 2800 calories
For you to lose weight, it is suggested that you should aim to reduce your calorie intake by 500 to 1000 calories a day. This will create a calories deficit in your diet which will lead to a moderate (and recommended) weight loss of about 1 to 2 pounds a week (5).
To determine how much calories a losing weight after 5o female or male should consume a day, we suggest using a reputable calorie counting app to help you come up with the exact number for you. You could also seek professional help from your doctor or nutritionist.
Losing Weight After 50: Which Diet Is Best For You?
Regardless of the many curated diets floating around on the internet, we believe that the best losing weight after 50 diet is a calorie deficit coupled with a well-balanced diet. This is not to say that other diets are bad. Infact, many diets such as veganism, the Mediterranean diet, and other plant-based diets have been deemed to work exceptionally well for weight loss (2).
However, such eating plans often have too many rules and restrictions which can frustrate you. On the other hand, a well-balanced diet is as straightforward as any losing weight after 50 diet can be. A well-balanced diet provides your body with the important vitamins, minerals, and nutrients it needs to keep it and the mind strong and healthy.
It also helps prevent and lower the risk of many illnesses, complications and chronic illnesses that affect older people, shortening their lifespans and ruining their quality of life (7). So what does a healthy diet for losing weight after 50 look like? You should aim to consume the following food groups daily or at least several times a week:
- Lean protein from lean meats, seafood, eggs, poultry and plant-based options like legumes and lentils
- Fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are quite healthy and you have no limitation on what you can or cannot eat. Make sure to try and ‘eat the rainbow’
- Whole grains such as brown rice, whole wheat pasta and bread, oats, millet, etc
- Low-fat dairy (milk and its alternatives)
- Healthy fats such as avocado, olive oil, seeds, nuts, and fatty fish
Remember to always consume food at a calorie deficit because even healthy calories matter and can lead to weight gain if done in excess.
How To Lose Weight Fast With Exercise?
Once you have fixed your diet, the next step in your weight loss plan should be incorporating exercise in your day to day. Because of your age, some workouts may be out of the question for you as they may negatively affect your joints and overall health.
If you are looking for how to lose weight fast with exercise for over 50 , try simple cardio exercises such as walking, dancing, cycling, or water aerobics (15). These examples are easier on the joints.
Weight lifting is also another way to help boost losing weight after 50. It helps build up lost muscle mass which helps you burn more calories during and after a workout session. Please note to always start with lighter weights and if possible, find a trainer to help you with proper form to avoid injury.
Flexibility and balance exercises are also essential. While they may not directly affect your weight loss by burning calories, they help improve your posture, balance, and keep you limber to prevent falling and help you manage your workouts better.
How To Tone My Belly Flat After Losing Weight After 50?
Now that you have managed to lose the extra weight what can you do to help tone your belly? If you are looking to have a more defined belly, and possibly get some definition and abs, here are some workouts that can help you achieve this.
Please note that because you are looking to tone your belly, these exercises will be targeting your abs.
They are also known as air bikes. Here is how to do them:
- Begin by lying on your back on a comfortable surface like a gym or yoga mat. Press your lower back to the floor and bend your legs at the knee.
- Place your hands at the back of your head and interlace your fingers. Gently cradle your head without putting any pressure on your neck.
- Brace your core by pulling your belly button towards your spine. Pull your shoulder blades back and slowly raise your knees to about a 90-degree angle, lifting your feet from the floor. Remember not to strain your neck
- Begin a cycling motion with your legs for a moment or two. Once you are ready, begin the bicycle crunch by straightening the left leg out at about a 45-degree angle, turning your upper body to the right, and bringing the left elbow toward the right knee.
- Return to the starting position with both legs elevated, knees bent, and your elbows wide and to the side.
- Repeat the same motion on the other side by straightening the right leg, turning your torso to the left and bringing the right elbow inwards and the left knee.
Planks are another great option on how to tone my belly flat after losing weight after 50. The best part about this workout is that not only does it work your core, but it also works your hips, lower back, legs, chest, and shoulders.
- Start on all fours with wrists directly under shoulders, toes on the floor.
- Step one foot back and then the other as you engage abs and straighten your legs.
- Press the floor away from you with hands.
- Make sure that your body is in a straight line from your shoulders to your heels. I.e., You should not be sagging at the middle nor should your butt be higher than the rest of you.
- Hold for 30 to 60 seconds.
If this is too hard for you, you can do the planks on your elbows and not with your arms straight.
- Begin by sitting on a yoga mat with the knees bent and feet flat on the floor, holding your arms together in front of you. Lean back slightly at a 45-degree angle to the floor – your torso and legs should form a V-like shape. Remember to keep your core engaged.
- Keep your feet flexed with the heels lightly touching the floor. Rotate to the right, keeping your hands clutched to your chest, and twist from your low back.
- Return to the starting position, then rotate to the left.
- Do eight to 12 reps per side.
If you would like to make the exercise a little harder, lift your legs at the knee, cross them at the ankles and keep them suspended throughout the set. If you would like to do weighted Russian twists, hold a medicine ball, dumbbell, or a heavy jug of water/milk.
Another variation but harder version of planks above, side plank will also work to help tone your midsection after weight loss. Here is how to do them:
- Begin by lying on the floor on your side; your hips, knees, and feet should be stacked on each other.
- Place one hand on the floor, pressing it away from you, as you engage your core and lift hips toward the ceiling. Lift the other arm toward the ceiling, forming a T with your body.
- You should form a straight, diagonal line from shoulders to heels. Try not to sag in the middle.
- Hold this position for 30 seconds to a full minute. Drop down to the floor and then switch sides and repeat the same movement.
While the workout mostly targets your butt, it can also be used to help tone your core. While doing hip thrusts, you will be working your quads, core, and hip adductors. An important fact to note is that while hip thrusts and glute bridges may look alike, they are a little different (17).
- Start by finding an elevated surface to lean back on. Something like a couch, bench, bed or a box. Sint in front of the elevated surface with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground.
- The elevated surface in question should hit just below your shoulder blades, and your feet, while seated, should be about shoulder-width apart. You can rest your elbows on the bench.
- Keeping your chin tucked, push through your heels until your thighs are parallel to the floor and your legs form a 90-degree angle.
- Squeeze your glutes at the top, then return to start.
- Do this 8 to 12 times for one set.
Please note that while the move is often done weighted with a barbell, it can be done just as well using your bodyweight.
Vertical Leg Crunches
Also known as arm pull over straight leg crunches, they are a great variation to normal ab crunches and are fantastic for toning your core after losing weight after 50.
- Begin seated on an exercise mat and then stretch out on the floor with your legs straight in front of you and your arms over and behind your head.
- Brace your core, engaging the muscles and slowly lift your legs to a 45-degree angle.
- With your legs at this angle slowly bring your arms up over your chest, lifting your shoulders off the mat while raising your legs until they’re perpendicular to the floor. You can try to touch your legs and arms.
- Slowly lower your arms and legs returning to the starting position with your arms stretched over and above your head with your legs raised at a 45-degree angle.
You can make the workout harder by holding a medicine ball between your legs or holding dumbbells in your hands, or both.
- Begin by sitting at the front edge of your mat, with knees bent and legs parallel. Reach your arms toward the ceiling to lengthen your spine.
- On an exhale and pull your abs deeply toward the spine to tighten your core, and begin to slowly – and in a controlled movement -roll down the floor.
- Once your back and head reach the mat, lift your arms overhead so they are parallel to the floor.
- Exhale again and begin to roll up, slowly lifting your spine off the mat and coming all the way into a sitting position. Inhale as you lift your arms up toward the ceiling. This counts as one rep.
- Do this 8 to 12 times for one rep.
Losing Weight After 50 Loose Skin
Loose skin after weight loss is something that many people, both young and old are afraid of. However, despite the fear of it, it should not be something that should stop you from achieving your health and fitness goals.
What factors affect loose skin after weight loss?
- Age. Sadly older people, generally 50 years and older, are at a higher risk of getting loose skin after losing weight after 50, because older skin tends to produce less collagen than younger skin (14). Reduced collagen in the skin means less elasticity and thus less ability for it to recover after great changes in size.
- Amount of weight lost. Obese people are more likely to experience loose skin during and after losing weight after 50. Anyone who loses 45 kilograms or more is more likely to have loose skin (11).
- Smoking. A 2009 review showed that tobacco smoke causes premature skin aging as it leads to a reduction in collagen production and damage to existing collagen (13). In light of this, if you have been a smoker throughout your life you are more likely to have loose skin once you lose weight after 50.
- Genetics and sun exposure are other factors than can lead to loose skin with or without extreme weight loss.
Can You Tighten Loose Skin After Losing Weight After 50?
Yes, you can. Luckily, there are some things that you can do to manage or get rid of loose skin after losing weight after 50. They are as follows:
- Patience. Once you have achieved your desired weight loss goals, it is suggested that you wait one to two years before seeking alternative methods to help get rid of the excess skin. After this time period any skin left loose has little to no chance of going back to normal (8, 9).
- Weight Training. Not only does weight training help burn more calories, but it also helps you build more muscle which can help decrease the appearance of loose skin as it helps replace the pockets of lost fat with muscle.
- Surgery. Body-contouring surgical procedures such as abdominoplasty, lower and upper-body lift, brachioplasty, and medial thigh lift among others are some procedures that are often sought by people who still suffer from loose skin years after their extreme weight loss (4).
Losing Weight After 50 Why Are My Legs Muscular But Skinny Female?
If you have been constantly working out then this could be why you are noticing that your legs are becoming more muscular even if the rest of you is quite skinny. Muscular legs are often a result of an array of exercises from swimming, hiking, walking, squats, lunges, and other lower body exercises.
Can you get rid of muscular thighs and legs? Yes, you can but this would mean you having to give up on working out which may inadvertently lead to you gaining weight (17). Please remember that there is nothing wrong with muscle on a woman; be it in their arms, legs, thighs, calves, or back. Muscle means that you are taking care of yourself and are healthy, embrace it and go buy another better fitting pair of jeans to better show them off.
The Bottom Line
Losing weight after 50 may be accompanied with some challenges, some out of your control but this does not mean that it is an impossible feat. Many have done it before and so can you. With the proper diet, workout plan, and other lifestyle changes, you will slowly but surely start seeing some positive changes in your weight and health.
Please make sure to first consult a doctor before taking and applying any of the tips and tricks mentioned above.