Weight loss can be challenging as you get older, yet by adopting a balanced diet and making positive lifestyle changes, you can improve your health and lose weight as the years go by.
Maintaining a fit and healthy lifestyle becomes increasingly important as we age. And while healthy habits like staying hydrated and practising mindfulness can promote weight loss at any age, unhealthy habits, poor dietary choices, and metabolic changes can all contribute to weight gain after the age of 50.
Cutting out added sugars, incorporating strength training into your workouts, eating more protein, cooking meals at home, and following a whole-foods-based diet are just some of the methods you can use to improve your overall health and lose excess body fat.
Try adopting some of these habits to stay fit in your 50s and beyond.
Eat less at night:
Eating fewer calories at night can help you maintain a healthy body weight and lose excess body fat. Eating the majority of your calories during breakfast and lunch, while enjoying a lighter dinner, can be a worthwhile method to promote weight loss.
Go for nutrient-dense foods:
Avoid consuming excessive amounts of oily and refined foods. Instead, focus on restricting carbohydrates and fats while increasing your intake of fibre and proteins. Also, including a variety of colourful fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats in your diet can provide essential nutrients and support overall health.
Improve your sleep quality:
Aim to get the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep per night and improve your sleep quality by minimising light in your bedroom and avoiding using your phone or watching television before bed. Many studies have shown that not getting enough quality sleep can increase the possibility of obesity and hinder weight-loss efforts.
Establish regular eating patterns:
Aim to have three balanced meals and healthy snacks at regular intervals throughout the day. Avoid skipping meals or going for long periods without eating as this can lead to overeating.
Minimise processed foods:
Processed and packaged foods are often high in added sugars, unhealthy fats and sodium while providing little nutritional value. Minimise their consumption and focus on whole, unprocessed foods that are naturally low in sugar and rich in essential nutrients.
Cook more at home:
Cooking meals at home allows you to control what you eat. Studies have verified that people who prepare and eat more meals at home tend to follow a healthier diet and weigh less than those who don’t.
Try intermittent fasting:
Studies have shown that intermittent fasting can promote weight loss as well as benefit older adults by increasing longevity, slowing cell decline and preventing age-related changes to mitochondria, the energy-producing parts of your cells. The most popular type of intermittent fasting is the 16/8 method, where you can eat within an eight-hour window followed by a 16 hours fast.
Prioritise portion control:
Our metabolism tends to slow down while aging, so it is crucial to practise portion control. Be more mindful of portion sizes and avoid overeating. Mindful eating can be a simple way to improve your relationship with food while encouraging weight loss. Using smaller plates and bowls and eating slowly and keeping track of how you feel during your meal can help create the illusion of larger portions.
Bump up your protein intake:
Getting enough high-quality protein in your diet is critical for weight loss and stopping or reversing age-related muscle loss. Eating a protein-rich diet can help prevent or even reverse muscle loss. Studies have shown that increasing dietary protein can help you lose weight and keep it off in the long term.
Proper hydration is vital for supporting digestion, regulating body temperature and maintaining organ function. Drink an adequate amount of water throughout the day and limit the consumption of sugary drinks, sodas and excessive caffeine as they can lead to dehydration and have negative effects on your health.
Engage in regular physical activity:
Apart from changing what you eat, you should focus on lifestyle changes as well. Regular physical activity is the key to maintaining a healthy weight, improving cardiovascular health and enhancing overall fitness in your 50s and beyond. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. You can incorporate both aerobic exercises such as brisk walking, cycling or swimming, and strength training.
* A version of this article appears in print in the 1 June, 2023 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly