Why Losing Weight Is HARD After You Turn 50
Are you over the age of 50 and have trouble losing weight? You are not alone.
More than 35% of adults over the age of 50 are obese, according to the CDC.
This puts people at a higher risk of diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and cancer.
Research shows that the association between obesity and mortality risk increases with age. This makes obesity among seniors a major concern.
Knowing that you should lose weight does not make it any easier. Losing weight usually involves low-calorie foods and a lot of exercises.
When you were younger, it seemed like you lost weight easily. If you are like many older adults, you are finding it tougher than ever before to lose weight.
The Numbers On Weight Loss
The human body uses calories from food and drinks for energy.
- ➡️ Carbohydrates, like sugar and starch, have about 4 calories per gram.
- ➡️ Protein, like that from meat and dairy, also has about 4 calories per gram.
- ➡️ Fat has about 8 calories per gram.
As you exercise, your muscles burn calories as fuel. If you burn the same number of calories as you consume, your weight will stay the same. You lose weight when you burn more calories than you take in.
You gain weight when you consume more calories than you burn. Remember, weight loss occurs over several days. It doesn't happen daily.
6 Reasons Why Weight Loss Is HARD After You Turn 50
For many young people, losing weight is as easy as creating a calorie deficit. Eat a little bit less and exercise a little bit more. As we get older other factors influence how many calories we need to consume and how our bodies will use the calories. Certain hormones affect appetite and satiety, for example.
On average, men need more calories than women because men have to support larger muscles. So the more muscle mass you have the more calories you burn.
1 - You move less
One major factor is the fact that older adults are not as active as when they were younger.
This means they don’t burn as many calories. Yet many people continue eating the same number of calories throughout their lifetimes.
Less movement while eating the same amount of food is one reason for unexpected weight gain.
2 - Your metabolism drops
Another factor is metabolism.
It's the process by which your body converts calories from food and burns them as energy. A person with a “fast” metabolism burns a lot of calories with minimal effort.
Someone with a “slow” metabolism burns few calories, even with intense exercise. The lower your metabolism the harder it is to lose weight.
3 - Your muscle mass decreases
As we age, we lose lean muscle mass. This reduced muscle mass means our bodies won’t burn as many calories with the same amount of exercise as it used to.
What’s worse is that, as muscle mass decreases, fat mass increases. Research shows that this increases the risk of decreased physical function, limited mobility, and even disability. This makes it even harder to burn calories through exercise.
4 - Age-related illnesses creep up
Some age-related illnesses make it almost impossible to stay active. Osteoarthritis (OA), is a form of arthritis that starts when cartilage wears down with age. It makes it hard to do enough physical activity to burn off a significant number of calories.
OA affects about 10 percent of men and 13 percent of women over the age of 60. Arthritis can develop when a person is in his or her 40's, but it is more likely to affect people in their 50's.
Painful joints can prevent you from the calorie-burning activities you once enjoyed. You may have to trade running for walking, for example, and weight lifting for yoga.
While these activities burn calories and build muscle mass, you may have to do them more often to achieve the results. This can be especially tough when you only spend a little bit of time exercising.
5 - Your hormones change rapidly
Hormones can also be a factor, particularly for women who have gone through menopause. The hormonal shifts associated with menopause change how and where the body stores fat. Namely, lower estrogen levels will cause a woman’s body to store fat in her stomach rather than her hips or thighs.
Other hormone changes occur with age. The aging body becomes resistant to the “satiety” hormone, leptin, for example. Leptin tells the brain that the body has had enough food. Aging causes the brain to become leptin resistant.
This means the hungry brain does not know that the body has had enough to eat, so the brain calls for more food. Aging also plays a role in the reduced response to thyroid hormone, which results in weight gain.
Weight gain can lead to poor choices, especially when combined with the emotional effects of hormone changes. Hormonal changes contribute to lower muscle mass as well, which hurts weight loss efforts.
6 - Retirement
Lifestyle changes, such as retirement, can be a major factor in weight gain.
Retirement can reduce the number of calories you burn in a day. Especially if your job required physical labor. If you are like many people who have worked long and hard throughout your entire life, you view retirement as an extended vacation. While the relaxation is well deserved, it can lead to an overindulgence of fatty foods without the benefit of enough exercise.
Think that it’s impossible to lose weight during retirement? It’s not, and you don’t have to use extreme diets and unrealistic exercise programs to lose weight.
9 Ways To Fight Back
After you've hit the age of 50, it can be a lot more challenging to lose weight and improve your physical fitness. However, even though you may be facing a more significant challenge, it is not impossible to improve your health at this age. Below are ten tips to help you lose weight and grow stronger after you hit 50.
1 - Eat whole foods
Although it isn't necessary to avoid all processed foods, adding more whole foods to your diet can make it easier for you to lose weight. Consider upping your intake of vegetables and low sugar fruit, as well as protein and healthy fats.
It is especially important to eat these foods at your first meal so you can begin the day on the right foot.
2 - Get plenty of sleep
It may seem counter-intuitive, but resting is an essential component of weight loss and physical health. The hormones released during sleep help regulate your appetite and metabolism.
Getting enough sleep ensures that you will have the energy you need to have an active day and maintain a healthy body. Sleep will optimize your weight loss and boost your physical fitness. Most healthy adults need 7-9 hours each night.
If you have trouble getting enough sleep, consider making some changes. Try to go to bed at the same time each night, and keep tablets, televisions and other screens that emit blue light out of the bedroom.
Taking a low dose melatonin supplement may also improve the quality of your sleep.
3 - Eat dinner at home
With your children moving out of the house, the temptation to eat at local restaurants grows.
Meals you buy while you're out are more likely to be high in calories than those you prepare in your kitchen. Limit your dinners out to reduce your calorie intake, and it will be easier for you to lose weight.
If you must eat out, choose a restaurant that provides nutritional values so you can make better choices.
4 - Strength training
If you want to lose weight, you need to be intentional about strength training. Many people focus their energy on cardio workouts in hopes of losing more pounds, but it is important to make time to build strength as well.
Strength training increases your muscle mass, which can help you lose weight faster. It also improves your mobility, which is an essential benefit for people over the age of 50.
5 - Low-intensity workouts
The right workouts can help you lose weight and build strength. However, jumping into an exercise that is too intense for your current fitness level can be dangerous.
If your workout is too severe, you increase your risk of injury and other problems. To build strength safely, gradually increase the intensity and length of your workouts over time. For example, when lifting weights, start with a light amount of weight and add more slowly as your strength increases.
If lifting weights seems like too much of a challenge right now, go for a walk instead.
6 - Don't fall for fad diets
Fad diets make big promises they can't keep. In the best cases, these diets will help you lose weight, but you will likely gain it back when you go back to eating normally.
In the worst cases, fad diets pose a serious risk to your health, see this post. It is always better to stick to a diet that involves permanent changes to your lifestyle instead of restrictive short-term rules.
7 - Learn to manage your stress
Stress is part of daily life for most people. However, high levels of stress can lead to weight gain. Stress can also make it more difficult to lose weight after you have gained it.
You can make it easier to lose weight by reducing the amount of stress in your life.
Consider engaging in meditation, yoga, or other relaxing activities. Adopting a hobby and spending time with friends or family can also help you manage stress.
8 - Use healthy cooking methods
One easy way to cut calories and lose weight is to change the way you cook when you are preparing meals at home. Instead of frying foods, for example, you can reduce calories by grilling or baking them.
If you are using oils when you cook, opt for healthier choices like olive oil. However, keep in mind that even healthier oils are still high in calories.
9 - Remain active
Beginning and following an exercise regimen is essential. But, planned exercise is not the only way to burn calories and optimize the strength of your body.
You can also improve your physical fitness and keep your weight down simply by being more active. Spend time walking your dog, swimming, bicycling, or other fun activities that keep you in your best shape.
As we age, staying in good shape becomes more difficult. But, with the right lifestyle choices, you can lose excess weight.
Remember that you need to remain committed to a healthy lifestyle to maintain it. Think about sustainable choices you can make the rest of your life.