12 Surprising Weight Loss Tricks That Work Wonders for People Over 50
Start adding these habits to your routine and see serious results.
Many of us know that there's nothing mythological about middle-aged spread—weight gain after 50 is all too real. But recent research indicates that human metabolism doesn't slow as previously thought in middle age. It tends to decline only after age 60, and then only about 1% per year. That means gaining weight is not inevitable (after 40, we generally pack on pounds because we're less active), and losing weight is far from hopeless. Experts say adding these 12 things to your routine can produce serious results.
"As a dietitian and personal trainer, one thing I find most successful and overlooked in terms of weight loss techniques for people over 50 is a daily walking routine," says Jesse Feder, RDN, CPT. "People believe you need to run on the treadmill or do high-intensity aerobic exercises to lose weight. This isn't true—the same amount of weight loss can be achieved through walking." Feder advises his clients over 50 to walk their neighborhood, try different routes, vary their speeds and elevations, and bring friends. "I typically recommend starting off with a short walk each day and working up to one hour of walking a day," he says. "This is terrific for burning calories and losing weight."
"Sweet breakfasts like cereal, pastries, and waffles tend to have a lot of sugar and very little protein," says Amy Davis, RD, LDN, a registered dietitian in New Orleans. "Savory breakfasts like eggs, omelets, and even last night's leftovers typically have lots of protein and maybe some veggies to keep you fuller for longer and less hungry throughout the day."
"Research shows that after 50, many people burn about 200 calories less per day than they did when they were younger," says Dr. Sergio Alvarez, medical director of Mia Aesthetics in Miami. "Being aware of this and adjusting your calorie intake accordingly can help prevent some of the weight gain that sometimes comes with aging."
"Aging bodies require just as much protein, if not a little more, as growing bodies," says Dan Gallagher, a registered dietitian with Aegle Nutrition. "Too little protein can leave you feeling lethargic, which means you want to move less. Try increasing your protein intake and you'll be more enthusiastic about moving more, which will keep you feeling younger and help with weight loss." The Recommended Dietary Allowance of protein for adults is 0.36 gram per pound of body weight daily, or 54 grams for a 150-pound person. But research suggests people over age 65 should consume 0.45 to 0.55 gram of protein per pound of body weight daily—about 68 to 83 grams for the average 150-pound person.
"Out of sight, out of mind! When you eliminate the visual cue of high-calorie snacks and treats, you're a lot less likely to mindlessly eat them," says Davis.
"Even a 15-minute walk after meals allows your body to more efficiently use carbs for energy, instead of storing them as fat," says Davis. "A quick walk after a meal also helps with digestion."
"To keep your metabolism going strong and keep your body from storing fat as energy, the two keys are a high-fiber diet and plenty of exercise," says Catherine Rall, a registered dietitian with Happy V. "Eating fiber will help to prevent your body from absorbing all the fat and sugar in your food, while exercise—especially daily, habitual exercise—will help prime your body to burn the calories you're feeding it."
"Alcohol contains a lot of calories without any nutritional benefit," says Davis. "Moreover, it can negatively affect mood, cognitive function, and metabolism, so the less you drink, the better."
"When you drink water, your body completes a process called thermogenesis, which is essentially the process of heating the water to your body's internal temperature. This burns calories," says Alvarez.
"We often think about aerobic exercises when considering weight loss, but increasing your muscle mass can help support your metabolism," says Alvarez. Muscle burns more calories and boosts your metabolism. "Combating the natural slowing of your metabolism can help you shed pounds," he adds.
"Often overlooked, but incredibly effective, is mindful eating," says Steve Theunissen, a certified nutritionist and ISSA /IFPA certified personal trainer. "Slowing down during meals, savoring each bite, and being in tune with your body's hunger cues can help prevent overeating and promote weight loss."
"Quality sleep is essential for weight management," says Theunissen. "Poor sleep can disrupt hormones that regulate hunger and appetite, making weight loss more challenging. Prioritizing a good night's sleep can make a significant difference."
"For the most part, the same weight loss guidelines that applied before you turned 50 still do," says Alvarez. "Sugar, refined carbohydrates, and highly processed foods are bad for you; more natural and whole grain options are best. You still need to exercise—burning more calories than you consume is always key to losing weight, no matter what your age. The 'magic' of losing weight truly lies in a healthy lifestyle and nowhere else."