If you find that weight has crept on as your 50’s arrived, you’re not alone. Many people have had to face the consequences of some less-than-optimal habits in previous decades. And even if you eat well and get regular exercise, age-related muscle loss and metabolic changes mean that you’ll need to make lifestyle adjustments to prevent more weight creeping on after 50. It’s not ALL about what to eat in your 50’s, but eating well in the right amounts is about 70% of the challenge.
How Many Calories Do I Need In My 50’s?
Women over age 50 need 1,600 to 2,200 calories per day to maintain a healthy weight, depending on their activity level. For weight loss, diets containing 1,000 to 1,600 calories per day are usually suitable for overweight or obese women, but your doctor will take into account your typical activity, BMI (Body Mass Index), and existing medical conditions before making a recommendation.
For a man over age 50, the calories needed range from 2,000 to 2,800, depending on activity level.
How Do I Lose Weight After 50?
For rapid weight loss, if that’s your goal, I strongly recommend that you look into medical weight loss after 50. A doctor’s supervision will ensure that you lose the excess weight fast and keep it off, without risking your health in the process. Losing excess weight after age 50 involves significant health benefits, including reduced chronic disease risks.
As menopause begins, and ovaries produce fewer female hormones, women tend to see some fat stored in their hips and thighs decline. However, this is countered by more fat in the stomach area. Decreases in hormones often lead to increased appetite, and it’s very important to establish healthy snacking habits.
Both women and men can be more prone to water retention, and both naturally need a little less energy, and tend to store excess calories, (especially calories from carbs) as fat. This means that even if you eat exactly the same as previously, you may start to put on weight. It makes sense – your metabolic rate has decreased, and you just don’t need the same amount of calories that you did in your 20’s and 30’s.
Watch Portion Sizes
Don’t give up foods you like, but be conscious of portion sizes. You can always go back for more if you really want it, but try serving a little less, and perhaps choosing a smaller plate to serve on. Drinking two glasses of cold water and/or a glass of chilled vegetable juice before each meal has been proven to be a great help in reducing weight, because you’ll feel fuller faster.
Learning to eat clean is a great start, but if your portion sizes are out of control, you can still gain weight on a diet made up entirely of healthy choices.
Exercise doesn’t have to hurt, and it shouldn’t be grueling (unless that’s your thing). Researchers from Penn State University recently published a study which found that women aged 40 to 60 feel more confident and energized after a half hour of moderate exercise, compared to those who had a more strenuous workout.
This is a great time to pick up a sport, such as golf or curling, or an exercise activity you haven’t tried before. The non-profit Daoist Tai Chi organization offers excellent beginner’s courses in Tai Chi, worldwide. They can often accommodate you even if you have a disability that might keep you out of other exercise programs. Check out some of the other gentle exercise programs I’ve previously written about, or pick something from this list:
12 Exercises to Try After 50
- Tai Chi
- Elliptical training
- Free weights (particularly good for building or maintaining muscle mass)
- Whole Body Vibration (brands include Power Plate, Soloflex and others)
Add a Good Habit
There are a number of small changes which you can make that really add up to weight loss over time. A couple of my favourite simple slimming tricks include:
- Drop the soda pop habit, and replace it with chilled herbal teas
- Take up drinking green tea, a great weight loss aid
- Give up snacking in front of the TV, especially within 3 hours of bedtime
- Replace sweetening tea or coffee with sugar, with a zero-calorie sweetener such as Stevia
- Take a quality multivitamin every day
- Eat legumes (beans, lentils, etc) and other slow-carbs more often
Watch Out For Emotional Eating
Sad, mad, glad – do you grab for chips and fast food, sweets or salty snacks when you’re upset, bored, or celebrating? Somehow, most of us don’t seem to reach for the green smoothies or salads at these moments. Awareness is important.
A handful of nuts or a couple of squares of dark chocolate is fine – a half dozen doughnuts, not so much. So plan in advance, and have healthy treats such as Kind Bars available for these moments. Widely available (try Walmart), these can be great weight loss aids. Keep one in your purse or glove box, one in the pantry, and you’ll have a treat that’s a healthy snack which is easy to choose in those moments.
You may also want to read my article on how losing weight will probably help you live longer.