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50 Expert-Approved Ways to Lose Weight After 50

Losing weight at any age can be a challenge, but it seems a whole lot harder after 50. But it's not impossible especially if you follow these 50 expert-approved tips.

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Chill out

Mid-life is often a time of stress and worry, says Scott Kahan, MD, MPH, the director of the National Center for Weight and Wellness in Washington, DC. “In addition to managing our personal lives, we often have stressful careers, the challenges of raising children, paying a mortgage, and so on, not to mention having to start to think about retirement, ’empty-nesting’ and so forth,” Dr. Kahan says. The more stressed out we become, the less likely we are to do the things we should to stay healthy such as exercise and eat right.

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Call in the pros

If nothing is working, including all of the methods you have tried in the past, see a weight loss specialist, Dr. Kahan says. These highly specialized doctors can help you troubleshoot any issues and get your weight loss plan on track. Find one near you at the American Board of Obesity Medicine. Check out what experts won’t tell you about weight loss.

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Don’t give up

Studies have shown that standard, science-based treatments for obesity and weight management work at least as well in older people as in the general population, Dr. Kahan says. Keep your head in the game and do not get discouraged.

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Check your meds

The older you get, the more prescription and over-the-counter medications you take to treat a growing list of age-related maladies. Some medications including antidepressants may cause weight gain, Dr. Kahan says. “Make sure any unexplained weight gain isn’t a side effect of a medication.”

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Get your zzz’s

Sleep patterns change with age. For women in menopause, night sweats can mean waking often to change sheets and pajamas. This sleep loss can make it harder to lose weight, says Los Angeles sleep expert Michael J. Breus, PhD, author of several books on sleep including The Sleep Doctor’s Diet Plan: Lose Weight Through Better Sleep. “Ghrelin is the ‘go’ hormone that tells you when to eat, and when you are sleep-deprived, you have more ghrelin,” Breus says. “Leptin is the hormone that tells you to stop eating, and when you are sleep deprived, you have less leptin.” More ghrelin plus less leptin equals weight gain. The good news? Melatonin, a go-to supplement for sleep, can also treat menopause symptoms.

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Take a time-out from eating

Intermittent fasting is all the rage, and a new study suggests that one type of fast known as the 16:8 diet can help you lose weight. (For 16 hours out of the day—say from 6:30 p.m. to 10:30 a.m.—you don’t eat; for the other eight hours of the day, you can eat freely). Fasters ate 350 fewer calories and lost about 3 percent of their body weight. Learn more about the health benefits of intermittent fasting.

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Add some lean protein to your lunch salad

Muscle mass declines with age, and since muscle burns more calories than fat, our metabolism drops too, setting us up for weight gain. Eating an equal amount of protein at all three meals may boost muscle strength in people over age 67, according to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Here are 11 ways to load up on lean protein such as chicken and fish.

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Spice it up

There are actually many health benefits of cayenne peppers, including possible weight loss. In fact, a new drug developed from the compound that gives chili peppers their burn may help aid long-term weight loss. The drug, Metabocin, was designed to slowly release capsaicin throughout the day without producing inflammation or adverse side effects. “Developing Metabocin as a potent anti-obesity treatment shows promise as part of a robust strategy for helping people struggling with obesity,” says study author Baskaran Thyagarajan, PhD, an associate professor of Pharmaceutics and Neuroscience at the University of Wyoming School of Pharmacy, in a news release.

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Break up with your diet

It’s been real, but it may be time to dump your diet—for at least two weeks. This may result in greater weight loss, according to research from the University of Tasmania. Those participants who took breaks from their weight loss diets every two weeks lost more weight and gained less weight after the study ended.

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Give acupuncture a shot

You haven’t cheated on your diet in a month and are a staple in your Barre class, yet the scale won’t budge. Acupuncture may be worth a shot. Check out these 7 compelling reasons to try acupuncture for weight loss.

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Eat your veggies before your bread

Change the order of the foods you eat, suggests Louis Aronne, MD, Director of the Comprehensive Weight Control Center at Weill Cornell Medicine and New York-Presbyterian in New York City. “When you eat bread before your meal, your blood sugar rises and increases production of the hormone insulin which makes weight gain more likely,” he says. Reversing this may put the brakes on weight gain after 50. “Eating veggies, proteins and then carbs on the end has a profound impact on blood sugar levels and a greater suppression of ghrelin, the hormone that tells your body to eat.”

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Join the resistance

Add some resistance training to your workout regimen, says Dr. Aronne.With age, people tend to lose muscle mass and that makes it more difficult to lose weight because less muscle mass means a lower metabolic rate,” he says. Resistance exercise can change the composition of your muscles in a way that makes them more metabolically active.” Add some free weights or machines once or twice a week. This 15-minute strength training routine works your whole body—seriously.

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Take the best supplements

If your healthy diet and exercise plan aren’t producing results anymore, you may be deficient in one or more vitamins or key nutrients. Get the scoop on the best vitamins for weight loss now.

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Ditch the scale

The scale doesn’t always tell the whole story when you are trying to lose weight after 50, Dr. Aronne says. Instead, measure your waist circumference with a tape measure. “If your waist size is going down, this is a good measure of your fat mass reducing. Your weight may not change, but your waist size may.”

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Go from low-cal to low-carb

Low-cal eating not doing the trick anymore? It may be time to switch things up. When a woman enters menopause, estrogen levels decrease, and this, in turn, affects the body’s ability to use the hormone insulin, which can lead to weight gain, Dr. Aronne says. “Eating less sugar and fewer carbs is the approach we recommend,” he says. This improves insulin resistance and helps lose weight and keep it off. “When you are younger just counting calories may work, but a low carb or low glycemic index approach is probably a better idea after 50.”

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Consider medication

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved five prescription weight loss pills for long-term use. “We have seen medication be very helpful for women in menopause assuming that their weight is in the category that weight loss medication is indicated for,” Dr. Aronne says. “If you fall into this category and are gaining weight, it’s better to treat it early than to wait for more weight gain.” Get the scoop on all of the approved weight loss pills.

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Drink up!

Water fills you up and acts as a natural appetite suppressant, and also aids in upping your metabolism, explains New York City nutritionist Keri Glassman, MS, RD, CDN, the founder of Nutritious Life. “As we age, dehydration becomes more of an issue. Get in the habit now and always keep a water bottle with you,” she says.

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Go green

Green tea has been shown to increase metabolism and may even reduce your risk of chronic disease, Glassman says. This miracle beverage is effective at fighting everything from cancer to acne.

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Chew more

Individuals who chewed each mouthful of food 40 times ate 12 percent less food than those who chewed just 15 times, according to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

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Get fresh advice

There are many outdated tips that are getting between you and weight loss. Here are 15 of the worst weight-loss tips doctors wish you’d stop following once and for all.

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Eat right for your age

Healthy eating and balancing your nutrients will keep your body functioning properly across all decades of life; in your 50s, you need to focus on your vitamin D and protein intake and talk to your doctor about your iron intake. Check out all the diet changes by decade your body needs.

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Listen to the real experts

Talk to people who’ve lost weight, look them up on social media, or read about them in stories like this one: 11 people got into the best shape of their lives after 50. You can learn a lot from those who’ve succeeded; take your cues from them.

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Eat like a Greek

A Mediterranean diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats may help with weight loss after 50—and can also help tame dangerous belly fat, according to a study of men and women aged 55-80 that appeared in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. This style of eating may also help normalize blood glucose levels, which, when elevated, can contribute to weight gain after 50. Here are some tricks to make your diet more Mediterranean.

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Get your FSH levels tested

Women take note, recent studies suggest that a single hormone called follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) could be responsible for your weight gain woes after 50. This hormone typically regulates the creation of eggs in women; however, as women’s ovaries begin to fail before menopause, blood levels of FSH rise, potentially causing weight gain despite a healthy diet and regular exercise.

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Ask your doctor about surgery

If you are a candidate, weight loss surgery can help you shed excess weight and may just extend your life. Get schooled on the available weight loss surgeries now.

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Know your vitamin D status

Older women with low blood levels of vitamin D may be more likely to gain weight than their counterparts who have adequate levels of the “sunshine vitamin,” according to a study in the Journal of Women’s Health.

Of more than 4,600 women aged 65 and older, those with insufficient levels of vitamin D in their blood gained about two pounds more than those who had adequate levels of the vitamin during a five-year study. Often called the sunshine vitamin because our bodies produce it in response to sun, vitamin D is also found in salmon, yogurt and eggs. It can be hard to get all the D you need from food so supplementation may make sense. Talk to your doctor. Find out more tips to help you get over a weight loss plateau.

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Check your vitamin T levels

Low testosterone levels in aging men have been linked to a host of conditions and issues including weight gain and difficulty shedding excess pounds, explains Evan Appelbaum, MD, a cardiologist at Men’s Health Boston, a Harvard-affiliated multi-specialty practice and the first Men’s Health Center in the United States. Get your T tested to see where you stand. Testosterone supplementation may help promote weight loss.

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Curb your sweet tooth

When researchers looked at eating habits among postmenopausal women in their 50s in a weight loss study, they found that cutting back on sugary desserts and drinks was common among those who were able to lose weight and keep it off. The findings appear in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Check out these 12 waist-friendly dessert options.

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Limit meats and cheeses

Postmenopausal women in their 50s who cut back on eating meats and cheese were able to keep their weight off, according to the study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “If the goal is to reduce the burden of obesity, the focus must be on long-term strategies because changes in eating behaviors only associated with short-term weight loss are likely to be ineffective and unsustainable,” concludes researcher Bethany Barone Gibbs, PhD of University of Pittsburgh Department of Health and Physical Activity, in a news release.

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Fill up on fruits and veggies

Postmenopausal women who eat more fruits and vegetables set themselves up to win the battle of the bulge long-term, according to Dr. Gibbs. “People are so motivated when they start a weight loss program. You can say, ‘I’m never going to eat another piece of pie’ and you see the pounds coming off,” she says in a news release. “Eating fruits and vegetables may not make as big a difference in your caloric intake. But that small change can build up and give you a better long-term result because it’s not as hard to do as giving up French fries forever.” These are 10 of the healthiest fruits out there.

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Reconsider HRT

Taking replacement hormones during menopause may help prevent an increase in belly fat, body mass index and body fat in general, according to a study in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. But hormone replacement therapy is not risk-free. It fell from grace rather dramatically after a large government-run trial, the U.S. Women’s Health Initiative, was stopped early in 2002 because HRT was shown to increase the risk of strokes and breast and ovarian cancer. Today many doctors recommend low doses of HRT for short amounts of time to address troublesome menopausal symptoms. Ask your doctor if HRT makes sense for you.

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Take a shot

Apple cider vinegar helps keep blood sugar levels in check, which will keep you feeling fuller longer. Experts recommend doing a shot in the AM. Learn more about all of the ways that apple cider vinegar promotes weight loss.

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Consider probiotics

Restoring the balance between good and bad bacteria in your gut may play a role in promoting weight loss after 50. Read up on the best probiotics for weight loss.

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Give the 5:2 diet a try

There is more than one way to reap the weight loss benefits of intermittent fasting. You could limit your fast to two days a week, says Dr. Aronne. The 5:2 diet, or 2-day diet, calls for limiting intake to 800 calories on two—non-consecutive—days a week and eating normally on other days.

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Ask your doctor about glucomannan

Glucomannan is a water-soluble fiber supplement that comes from the konjac root, which is native to Asia, and it may help you shed unwanted pounds. Here are 12 things you need to know about glucomannan.

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Inspect your home

Common environmental chemicals—known as obesogens—may set you up to gain weight, and many can be found in your homes. Check out these 10 sneaky ways your house could be making you gain weight.

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Ditch the diet cola

Diet soda can ruin your metabolism and make you gain weight. Swap it out for seltzer and watch the pounds fly off.

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Take a whiff

Sniffing banana, apple, or peppermint can trick the brain. Alan R. Hirsch, MD, of the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago, found that the more frequently people sniffed these scents, the less hungry they were and the more weight they lost—an average of 30 pounds each. Check out these other foods that can keep you from overeating if you smell them.

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Cheat

Breaking the golden rules of weight loss may just tip the scale in your favor. Check out these 13 weight loss rules pros cheat on—so you can too.

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Fill up on fiber

Eating enough fiber can help you lose weight after 50, and that is not the only health benefit of eating more fiber—not by a long shot. Here are 10 things that happen to your body when you start eating more fiber.

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Eat at home more often

That’s what the people of Poland do, and this practice saves money and pounds. Check out these other weight loss secrets from around the world.

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Steer clear of these metabolism monsters

Things like alcohol, sugar, wheat, and other foods can really wreak havoc on your metabolism and make it even harder to lose weight after 50!

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Take it to go

Americans have an obsession with joining the so-called “clean plate club, but asking for a doggie bag may break this unhealthy habit, according to a study in Appetite. In the study, participants who were offered the option to take a slice of pizza home were much more likely to do that than clean their plates, but when this wasn’t an option, they were more likely to say they wanted to eat it and downplay how unhealthy it is to overeat. “Providing another mechanism for consumption closure, such a doggy bag, dampens the effect of wanting to eat more,” says Kelly Haws, a marketing professor at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, in a news release.

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Eat a hearty breakfast

When people who were obese and had type 2 diabetes ate a high-energy breakfast, they lost weight, improved their diabetes and needed less insulin, according to research presented at ENDO 2018, the 100th annual meeting of the Endocrine Society in Chicago, Ill.”This study shows that, in obese insulin-treated type 2 diabetes patients, a diet with three meals per day, consisting of a big breakfast, average lunch, and small dinner, had many rapid and positive effects compared to the traditional diet with six small meals evenly distributed throughout the day: better weight loss, less hunger, and better diabetes control while using less insulin,” says lead study author Daniela Jakubowicz, MD, professor of medicine at Tel Aviv University in Israel, in a news release.

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Choose the diet that works best … for you

There are so many choices out there from low-carb and low-fat to the Mediterranean and DASH diet.”Pick the pattern that you like best because no plan is more effective than others for weight loss,” Dr. Kahan says. “Following your taste will be the most reasonable and sustainable as long as you moderate the amounts you eat.” Here’s what it’s like to really follow the ketogenic diet.

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Get out of your own way

Yes, you want to lose weight, but you may be sabotaging your own efforts by not counting liquid calories among these other 14 things that may be sabotaging your weight loss.

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Try these simple swaps

Instead of a cup of cream of broccoli soup, which has 180 calories and 7 grams of fat, choose a bowl of chicken vegetable soup. Try these other simple swaps for weight loss after 50.

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Choose your protein wisely

Protein helps build muscle and keeps you feeling full longer, both of which are important when you are trying to lose weight after 50. Here are the top food choices for a protein diet to help maximize your weight-loss success.

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Do this first

Keeping a log of everything you eat and drink can jumpstart your weight loss efforts. Learn about other tricks that can also lay the groundwork for weight-loss success.

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Sprinkle some cinnamon on your latte

If you’re a fan of cinnamon, a new study has some good news for your waistline. Cinnamon may activate your body’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory systems and slow the fat-storing process, according to a preliminary animal study. The findings were presented at the American Heart Association’s Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology Scientific Sessions. Next, check out these 50 weight loss breakthroughs your doctor wishes you knew.

Denise Mann, MS
Denise Mann is a freelance health writer whose articles regularly appear in WebMD, HealthDay, and other consumer health portals. She has received numerous awards, including the Arthritis Foundation's Northeast Region Prize for Online Journalism; the Excellence in Women's Health Research Journalism Award; the Journalistic Achievement Award from the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery; National Newsmaker of the Year by the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America; the Gold Award for Best Service Journalism from the Magazine Association of the Southeast; a Bronze Award from The American Society of Healthcare Publication Editors (for a cover story she wrote in Plastic Surgery Practice magazine); and an honorable mention in the International Osteoporosis Foundation Journalism Awards. She was part of the writing team awarded a 2008 Sigma Delta Chi award for her part in a WebMD series on autism. Her first foray into health reporting was with the Medical Tribune News Service, where her articles appeared regularly in such newspapers as the Detroit Free Press, Chicago Sun-Times, Dallas Morning News, and Los Angeles Daily News. Mann received a graduate degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., and her undergraduate degree from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa. She lives in New York with her husband David; sons Teddy and Evan; and their miniature schnauzer, Perri Winkle Blu.