4 Tips For Losing Weight as You Age

Elizabeth Millard
by Elizabeth Millard
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4 Tips For Losing Weight as You Age

Many people, who may have maintained their weight easily in their 20s and 30s, start to feel more challenged when they pass the big 4-0, and that’s not surprising since you begin to lose lean muscle mass and experience far more hormone fluctuations at midlife and beyond. This begs the question: As the years begin creeping up, are you doomed to that middle-age spread and spare tire?

The oft-repeated golden rule of weight loss — to lose weight, you must maintain a calorie deficit — can feel tougher to employ when you’re older, according to Eliza Kingsford, psychotherapist and author of “Brain-Powered Weight Loss.” “As we age, our bodies start to change metabolically,” she says. “However, this doesn’t mean you are doomed to gain weight or are unable to lose weight as you round 40. The keys to success lie in consistency and mindfulness.”

Maybe you’ll need to be more focused and dedicated to your goals than when you were younger, but that doesn’t mean those goals aren’t reachable.

Here are some tips to consider as you age:

1

WATCH YOUR EATING PATTERNS

The good news about getting older is you’ve had time to understand how nutritional changes affect your health, notes Kingsford. You’ve gained experience about the impact of certain food choices, and now it’s time to put that knowledge to use.

“I won’t sugarcoat it, you need to be more mindful when you’re older about what you’re feeding your body and how you’re moving,” she says. “As the metabolism slows with age, we can often no longer get away with some of the indulgences that our bodies used to forgive us for.”

That doesn’t mean dramatic changes, she adds, like extreme calorie reduction or hopping onto a fad diet. Instead, it should prompt you to be more conscious about your choices and patterns, including portion sizes, why you eat at certain times and why you pick the foods you do.

“This is the time to tune into any problematic behaviors that might be getting in the way of your ability to maintain or lose weight,” she says.

2

FOCUS ON PORTION SIZES

Our culture is set up for us to be overweight, Kingsford believes. Processed foods and fast food are highly available, even in the checkout lines at hardware stores, for example. Cooking at home is de-emphasized in favor of convenience, and portion sizes have changed significantly from even a couple decades ago.

One estimate notes that since the 1970s, the average size of foods from fast-food chains, restaurants and grocery stores has increased by 138%. Business experts have noted that this might be because when portions are bigger, they seem like a better deal, and that increases profits.

But it also increases waistlines, given the extra calories. As part of being more mindful about what you’re eating, it can be helpful to track the amount as well and realize “serving size” doesn’t necessarily mean that’s how much you should be eating.

3

WATCH YOUR CARBS AND CALORIES

When you’re trying to lose weight, it makes sense to cut back on calories and, in some cases, tweak your macros so you can restrict your carbohydrates, particularly those found in processed foods.

When you’re older, these methods can also backfire, says Aaron Leventhal, a NSCA-certified personal trainer and owner of Fit Studios in Minneapolis. In his work with older clients, he’s seen challenges when calories and carbs get too restricted.

“Often, there’s a ‘starvation effect,’ and that tends to happen more for those over age 45 than those who are younger,” he says. “That means the body holds on to fat and seems to slow down a metabolism that’s already changing because of age.”

4

START LIFTING HEAVY STUFF

When you get older, your muscle mass loss causes your resting metabolic rate to decrease, changing your calorie-burning mechanism. That can be even more pronounced by a poor diet, smoking, alcohol use, sedentary behavior and genetics.

In addition to changing weight, the shift in muscle fiber can contribute to loss of balance, coordination and strength. But the good news is it’s not inevitable — and in some cases, it can even be reversed.

Resistance training performed a few times per week can not only help you regain what was lost, but can also increase bone mass, and studies have suggested it might improve sleep, help cardiovascular health, boost your mood and confer other benefits.

In addition to strategies like these, Leventhal suggests chatting with your healthcare professional about other factors that might play a factor, such as your medication usage.

In general, you’re right to think there are more challenges to losing or maintaining weight as you get older. But getting more conscious about what, when and why you’re eating — and putting some strength training into the mix — can help you age better.

About the Author

Elizabeth Millard
Elizabeth Millard
Elizabeth is a freelance journalist specializing in health and fitness. She’s also an organic farmer, yoga teacher, obstacle course aficionado and 5K junkie. Her work has appeared in SELF, Men’s Health, CNN, and other publications.

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11 responses to “4 Tips For Losing Weight as You Age”

  1. Nigel Henry says:

    As a fit fun about to be 65 year old male that has been through the wars I am fitter now than at 40… But … Missing a colon and now have a Iliostomy and a bag for 2.5 years. Last year it was a new Knee as I have had Crohns Disease most of my life but now … a fit ish about to be 65… A qualified Chef ( in a past life ) and dietician. Life is fun I sail .Fly Light Aircraft,Gliders into classic cars Motorcycles… Love cooking People and we show Breed and Work Portuguese Water dogs and drive too Portugal for a month each year…. So thats kind of it fit is old ish young ish and did I say I still love cooking. Reading your Age fat Bit had me sat nodding … After a year of trying to loose weight I had to dig deep to find the answers …Joined Fat Club and did a lol on their system then listened evaluated and did some digging for the last year done Dry January last year but now it diet and dry January going onward into Feb March and April … 2018 Keto or Dirty Keto or … well it has to be done … 6 lbs down already and now no wine of scotch the pace of weight loss will improve … I hope. But a lot of what you say is for me correct so felt compelled to say Hi X

  2. Lesa Thomas says:

    I’m a health expert and most of the time I suggest for weight issues problem people should exercise, eat less or eating healthier. The main reason for weight gain because age nothing to do with our metabolism. But I’m a runner and go for running on a daily basis. I met few people who lost a weight because of having started to run.

  3. Denise Stevens Hatch says:

    It was nice to see an article geared to the Seniors and not the 20-40 year old folks! I agree with everything written in the article and can tell you at the age of 61, I weigh what I did in my 20’s only because I do watch what I eat and I do exercise. Fast foods are not on the list of foods I choose to eat because I know how unhealthy they are with little protein and too much fat and salt. I eat out at nice restaurants occasionally, but do make healthy choices as well. I keep track of my weight using the MYFITNESSPAL app and input my daily intake of calories every day. As far as exercise, its always been important to me. Walking on average, 5-7 miles per day is the best idea for keeping in shape, being outdoors, and get my thinking done. I don’t listen to music, just nature…listening to sounds and taking in the beauty! I am a fan of the outdoors and spend hours mowing and edging my lawn, keeping the landscape trimmed, weeding, tending to my flowers etc. That is great fun, it is therapeutic, as well as great exercise. I use the Walkmeter app to track all my walking and see the steps I walked for the day. I do my daily stretches each morning and work out with a 15 lb. kettlebell to keep my core strong and muscles strong. The bottom line is, no matter the age, one must be conscientious of the foods being eaten. One needs to find that balance between calories and exercise to lose or maintain the desired weight. Be healthy!

  4. Bailey says:

    Great post thank you!

  5. Merrilyn Tattersall says:

    I’m 57 & found that once I turned 52 or 53 I put on weight without doing anything different (after being able to eat whatever I wanted all my life & constantly remain at 52 or 53kg’s it was a big shock!). However, I changed diet & ditched sugar & alcohol (both easy formeto do) & started trying to fit in some kind of exercise/walk/run/yoga & no matter how hard I try (working shiftwork the last 17yrs-12hr stints rotating nights/days/nights) it is challenging to find time or energy to exercise (apart from the reasonably active job/manual labour) & now have a bit of a podgey belly (evening’s/nighht time) & cellulite on the back of the
    thighs & bum & can’t seem to get my weight below 55kgs, which is frustrating! Any more tips? Sounds like I need to quit work/retire/new job & then might have the time to adopt more exercise into to the routine as per you other lucky peoples above?

  6. MB Barber says:

    I am 67 and would like to lose 20-25 pounds. I used code red and lost 6 lbs quite easily in 2 weeks, but now as usual I am at a plateau for the last 17 days. I am staying between 1000 and 1250 calories, but have gained back 1 pound. I’m moderately active, but it is winter. My exercise level doesn’t seem to matter though, as the same has happened when I was running 15 miles per and biking also. I usually get discouraged and give up and go back to the weight I have been at most of the time for over 10 years. Will this plateau ever end? Any suggestions?

    • cattail722 says:

      Are you perhaps eating too few calories for the amount of activity you are getting? If you deprive yourself too much, your metabolism can tank and it can cause your body to store instead of lose. It may also depend on what those calories are that you are eating. What you eat can be more important than how much or little you eat. All calories are not created equal. A cookie may have the same calories as a large bowl of veggies, but the cookie is not going to help you lose weight, regardless of whether it has the same calories as the veggies. I also don’t know anything about Code Red or whether it is actually effective for losing weight. Many times you can lose water weight on certain diets and then you plateau, because you really can’t lose any more water weight. Knowing nothing about it, I really couldn’t say.

  7. jim says:

    I can remember going to Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlor, as a lad, and ordering a “Pig Trough”. A pig trough was a DOUBLE banana split. Were you able to eat all of it, a ribbon was awarded with much fan-fare (and taped cerimonially to your nose!) We did this OFTEN through the summer months. Old age is SO unfair!!!
    Off that topic: are steel cut oats considered carbs? Is eating a 1/2 cup a day a poor choice?

    • Glenn Nelson says:

      Yes,
      each 1/4-cup serving contains 27 to 29 g carbs, or 21 to 22 percent of
      the 130 g recommended for daily consumption by the Institute of
      Medicine.That being said, unless you are on a low carb diet, steel-cut oatmeal is a healthy choice but watch how much sugar you use. I prefer to use blueberries to sweeten my oatmeal. However, I have since changed to a keto diet and oatmeal is now not part of my morning breakfast. I am 66 year old.

  8. Jackie says:

    The article here is great. My aunt is 48 years old and she has been struggling to lose weight ever since she turned 30’s. She went through different training program and did lose some, but not as desired. When she turned 40, the weight bounced back. Eventually, she went to the nutritionist and managed to have some strict diet routine with some specific exercise courses specifically tailored for her. So I found out that, losing weight has different process for each person. But one thing, which she implemented into this new program is yoga, which I find to be super interesting in losing weight

  9. Tied says:

    For me not moving is not an “indulgence”, it is something that happened to me because of repeated injuries. Each time I point that out to some health professional, the discussion doesn’t seem to go any further. But I believe that it should. I would also like to see, just once, and article that addresses weight loss for young and old people coping with injuries that are never going to heal.

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