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Losing weight at 50 can be difficult, but it is possible — here's how

7 approaches you can take to tackle weight loss.

How to Lose Weight at 50 | Juniper

It can be difficult to accept that weight gain when we're older is harder to shift. But there are reasons why, and ways to adapt to it. While your muscle mass decreases and your food intake may stay the same, you are generally more prone to weight gain as you age.

Unfortunately, this is a part of the aging process, but it's not all hopeless — there are things we can do to take back control of weight gain.

If you've been trying to lose weight with little success and think it might be related to your age, we are here to help you work with your age, rather than against it when it comes to weight loss.

Why is losing weight in your 50s hard?

The main reason why weight loss is more challenging in your 50s is due to losing muscle mass. If you don't maintain muscle throughout your life, you tend to see a greater depletion as you age.

Muscle mass loss also slows down your metabolism (your ability to convert food into energy) and naturally, your activity levels tend to decrease, which means you burn fewer calories [1].

Losing weight becomes gradually harder in your 40s and is noticeably difficult to shift in your 50s. That seems to be the age where if you gain weight, it's significantly harder to lose weight.

What role does menopause play in weight gain?

It's not just the fact that age makes weight loss difficult. Menopause can have a major impact on your ability to lose weight as well as how much weight you might gain around this time.

Your body goes through a number of changes during menopause, including decreasing the number of hormones it produces like progesterone and oestrogen.

Common symptoms associated with menopause, including disrupted sleep, decreased mood and hot flushes, can also make it harder to feel motivated and energetic to exercise, which in turn, can impact your weight loss efforts [2].

These changes can also increase your weight gain potential (particularly around the stomach), making it harder to lose weight after 50 [3].

7 ways to approach weight loss at 50

Weight loss is never linear and losing weight at 50 can feel like a task but we're here to help.

Between cutting out unhealthy habits, following a balanced diet, moving more and asking for professional help, you can start your weight loss journey [4]. Check out our 6 tips below.

Set realistic goals

Looking at how to lose weight fast at 50 might be the wrong approach. If you're seeking fast results, you're probably looking at short-term solutions which aren't sustainable [5].

While your goal might be to lose a significant amount of weight, it's best to start small and create realistic goals that won't feel as overwhelming. When you're feeling motivated, working towards a big goal can feel empowering but when motivation wanes, it can feel like you'll never hit the number you're after.

Try to start small and set a few goals and healthy habits around your health and fitness. This might be going for a walk each morning or swapping your nightly soft drink for water — whatever it is, start small and work up from there.

Focus on your food

The science of losing weight means we need to look at how many calories we're eating in regard to our energy output. If you're consuming more calories than you're burning in a day, weight loss will be more difficult.

The best way to lose weight after 50 and prevent weight gain at any age is to eat a balanced, healthy diet. That means, changing your eating habits to eat a variety of foods from each of the 5 food groups including:

  • Vegetables and legumes
  • Fruit
  • Whole grains
  • Lean proteins including meat, poultry, fish, eggs, legumes, tofu, nuts and seeds
  • Dairy including milk, cheese and yogurt [5].

Portion control is also important when losing weight, so make sure vegetables are taking up half your plate, and whole grains and lean proteins are taking up a quarter of your plate.

Some more weight loss tips to get you to reduce the number of processed foods include swapping high-calorie coffee drinks with a standard coffee like espresso or cappuccino. And, be sure to engage in mindful eating when consuming your meals each day.

Make the most of every workout

One of the hardest things about trying to lose weight is working on your exercise routine. You don't need to run 10k every morning if you're not a runner and you don't need to go to an intense gym class every day to start your weight loss journey.

It's about finding a workout that's effective and, more importantly, one that you enjoy! Choosing activities that are low impact is especially important. You don't need to damage your knees just to get a good sweat on.

Yoga is a great option as it allows you to strengthen muscle groups and in turn, helps burn calories. Strength training and resistance training are also great for increasing muscle mass. They can target large muscle groups and you can continue burning calories throughout the day — even long after a weight training session [6].

Strength training tends to be slower, too. If HIIT (high-intensity interval training) isn't for you, weight training can be a nice alternative that still burns calories but just at a slower pace.

Get your hormones checked

If you're eating whole foods and have a varied exercise regime but you're not noticing any changes, a trip to the doctor might help gain more clarity.

As we know with menopause, hormonal changes can affect your body fat percentage. There are certain conditions involving hormone production that will affect your weight loss efforts [7].

Things like hypothyroidism (when your thyroid gland doesn't produce enough of the thyroid hormone) or polycystic ovarian syndrome or PCOS (when you have too much of the androgen hormone) can make weight loss more difficult so be sure to have a conversation with your doctor if you suspect you may be experiencing either of these conditions.

Reduce alcohol consumption

Alcohol is high in empty calories and when consumed in large quantities, can lead to weight gain.

As getting older already slows down your metabolism, making it harder to lose weight, it's helpful to be aware of your energy output and energy input [8]. So, if you're on a weight loss journey, try to reduce your alcohol consumption where possible.

With anything though, enjoying in moderation will not be harmful to your progress.

Get enough sleep and manage stress

Not getting enough sleep and navigating chronic stress can cause weight gain and make it harder to lose weight. Research suggests that sleep deprivation can lead to metabolic dysregulation and not getting enough sleep is also associated with blood sugar intolerance and insulin resistance [8].

Plus, sleep deprivation can disrupt your circadian rhythm which can lead to weight gain [9].

Stress hormones like cortisol also play a role in weight gain because when you're stressed your adrenal glands release adrenaline and cortisol which then releases glucose into your bloodstream [10].

So, if you've got chronic stress and you're trying to lose weight, triggering the body's relaxation response through breathing exercises is one way you can reduce stress levels.

Try a holistic programme

A holistic approach to healthy eating and working out is always preferable. Fad diets aren't sustainable; you might see fast results at the beginning but it's unlikely you'll be able to continue incorporating them into your life.

It's important to look for a holistic approach and a medical weight management programme like Juniper's Weight Reset Programme encompasses every aspect of your well-being to reach a happier you.

Juniper’s Weight Reset Programme combines proven medication, health coaching and ongoing support to help you lose weight and keep it off. We prescribe a GLP-1 medication called Wegovy, which contains the active ingredient semaglutide.

Semaglutide is clinically proven to reduce your appetite and make you feel fuller for longer, while also reducing cravings by targeting the rewards centre in the brain. For long-term success, changing your eating and movement habits is also crucial, which is why we offer a comprehensive programme that includes 3 core pillars of lifestyle change with the assistance of our UK clinicians.

We can help you break habits that might be impacting your weight and help you hit your weight loss goals sooner. When you're ready, our team of specialist experts are here to support you on your weight loss journey.