How to Lose Weight in Your 50s and 60s

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Have you noticed that your body has started to change now that you've hit middle age? You're not alone. It's common to see changes on the scale and how your clothes fit as you get older. But you don't have to throw in the towel and let your appearance slide. You can learn how to lose weight in your 50s and beyond.

You can use targeted physical activity, a healthy diet, and progressive medical approaches to stay fit as you age. While you can't necessarily stop or reverse all of the changes that come with aging, there are simple things you can do to reach and maintain a healthy weight in middle age and beyond.

Know Your Numbers

Your doctor may calculate your BMI, and you might weigh yourself on the scale at home, but other numbers can affect the way you look as you age.

Waist Circumference

Your waistline may get bigger, even though you are not gaining weight. Aging expert Florence Comite, MD, says that hormonal changes don't necessarily cause weight gain, but they can change the way you carry weight on your body. 

Comite is a New York City endocrinologist who helps both men and women maintain their vitality as they age. “Women tend to see weight gain in their middle," she says, "and men—especially those who don’t go to the gym—wear their belt a little lower to accommodate a bigger belly.”

Body Fat Percentage

Your body composition is likely to change as you get older. Lower testosterone levels in both men and women may cause a decrease in muscle mass as you age. So even if your weight stays the same, you might feel and look fattier if you’ve lost muscle and gained fat.

Evaluate Your Family History

A family health history is the “poor man’s genetic test,” says Dr. Comite. In her practice, she conducts tests to help her patients target and treat specific issues that affect their appearance and vitality as they age. But simply knowing your family health history is the next best thing. "If you know that there is a history of diabetes in your family," she says, "then you know to ask your doctor to screen for that condition."

Be an Expert in Your Own Health

Once you know your health history, connect with your doctor to get personalized advice to improve your health and appearance. For example, if you find out that you have a family history of high blood pressure, find out how changes to your lifestyle can help you avoid medication in the future.

In many cases, maintaining a healthy weight can reduce or prevent disease. Understanding the specific benefits of a healthy weight can serve as motivation to slim down.

Manage Your Diet

In order to manage your weight nutrition experts suggest adopting dietary and lifestyle changes that are sustainable. Changes should be slow, but reasonable and attainable. For example, you may want to reduce sweets (as opposed to stop eating sweets altogether).

Research supports that approach. A study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that overweight and obese postmenopausal women who ate fewer desserts and less fried food and drank fewer sugar-sweetened beverages were able to lose weight and keep it off.

Eat Enough Protein

In her book Keep It Up, Dr. Comite lists the benefits of eating the right amount of protein. It not only helps you to feel full longer, but it also helps to build and repair your body’s tissues. And the process of eating protein burns more calories. Dr, Comite recommends eating 1.2 to 1.4 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.

Boost Your Activity Level

Have you stopped doing daily chores like carrying groceries, shoveling snow, or mowing the lawn? That probably means that you burn fewer calories every day. Even though hormones play a role in the aging process, lifestyle comes into play as well. 

You can burn more calories without exercise by increasing your non-exercise activity thermogenesis, or NEAT. Simple daily chores and activities boost your NEAT and contribute to a healthier metabolism.

Evaluate Your Lifestyle

As you near or reach retirement, have your interests shifted to more leisurely activities? Do you spend more time reading, eating in restaurants, cooking indulgent meals, or entertaining friends? These shifts can cause weight gain.

To lose weight, you don't necessarily need to give up your hobbies. But you may want to make simple adjustments to change your energy balance. For example, if you like to travel, choose an active vacation instead of a food-centered cruise. If you like to cook, invest in a healthy cooking class. 

Watch Alcohol Intake

Increased travel, eating in restaurants more often, and entertaining with friends might also mean that you drink alcohol more often. Calories from booze add up quickly. In addition, people don't always tend to make the best food choices when they drink. In addition, you may become dehydrated when consuming alcohol. Cut back on drinking or eliminate alcohol altogether to lose weight. If you do drink, be sure to consume water to maintain good hydration.

Stay Connected With Active Friends

Not sure that you will stick to your exercise or eating plan? Then connect with friends who will hold you accountable and who share your interest in an active lifestyle. 

Social support is one of the best predictors of adherence to an exercise program. Meet new friends at the gym, connect with the community at church or organize a few neighbors for workouts or healthy recipe exchanges.

You might also consider an app to enhance accountability. For instance, RISE is a free app that connects you with a nutritionist to provide support and information.

Balance Your Workouts

It’s great if you do any exercise daily. But as you age, a balanced workout program becomes more important. A varied program can offset hormonal and body composition changes that happen with aging. Make sure your program includes these elements.

  • Strength training: Do resistance or strength training exercises to build and maintain muscle and keep your metabolism healthy. Studies have shown that strength training has specific benefits as you age.
  • Aerobic training: Do cardiovascular activity regularly to offset the decrease in metabolism that comes with age and improve your heart health.
  • Flexibility training: Do stretching exercises to increase the range of motion in your joints. This helps your body stay limber and comfortable through activities of daily living.
  • Stability training: Keep a strong, stable, youthful-looking body by adding functional training exercises to your daily routine. Simple stability exercises take just minutes to perform but help improve your balance, posture, and appearance.

A Word From Verywell

Dr. Comite recommends making no more than three changes per month to avoid getting overwhelmed and quitting your program altogether. She also reminds us that everyone ages differently. Be kind to yourself as you age and as your body changes, but don't throw in the towel just because you're getting older. Stay smart and stay active to keep your body strong and lean. 

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  1. Kong A, Beresford SAA, Alfano CM, et al. Self-monitoring and eating-related behaviors are associated with 12-month weight loss in postmenopausal overweight-to-obese women. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2012;112(9):1428-1435. doi:10.1016/j.jand.2012.05.014