It’s a common myth that losing weight after 50 is impossible for women. I think losing weight and maintaining that loss is tricky at ANY age. I don’t remember it being any easier at 20 than it is at 50. So, I’m going to share how to lose weight after 50. (or any age for that matter)
For me, it’s easier to maintain a healthy weight now because I understand food and how it affects my body. I know what works for me and what doesn’t. When I was 20, I didn’t have a clue about my hormone system and I thought losing weight was about starving myself and now I know that is the worst way to achieve a healthy weight.
I don’t care about weight just for aesthetics. I care about weight because the food I eat affects my health—not just today but for what I hope will be a long healthy life. Losing weight in an unhealthy way is no better than staying overweight in many cases.
Based on my reading and now being at an age where a lot of people are getting sick with serious diseases, I believe that the ways we’ve been taught to lose weight may actually be causing people to get sick.
Before I talk about what I believe is the best way to approach weight loss, here are some important things to keep in mind as you read.
Forget About Being Skinny
Being skinny is not the goal I promote. Despite what you think is true—being skinny or thin is not correlated with good health.
Trying to be thin; is trying to achieve, for most of us, the impossible. Most women carry a little protective fat on their bodies. At one time or another, most of us got to a “thin” weight. How long could you keep it? For me, it was usually just a couple of months.
The goal is to feel good in your body and to be able to do the things you enjoy. That size, shape, and weight is different for all of us.
I’m not skinny. A couple of years ago at my thinnest, I fit into my 11th grade prom dress. I was wearing size 6 pants. It felt a little surreal but it didn’t create any sense of a better life for me. In fact, I was very unhappy because of other things and being thin didn’t change that at all.
Not All Calories are Created Equal
We’ve all been taught that it’s all about the calories we eat and that it doesn’t matter if we eat all junk or vegetables as long as we keep our overall calories low.
This is WRONG. The types of foods you eat do matter. What you eat and when you eat it, does affect your weight. The types of food you eat affect your hormones and your hormones control whether your body effectively burns fat for energy or ineffectively stores it making you fatter.
You Can Get Fit with Exercise You Enjoy
For many of us, we think of exercise as a way to punish our bodies for overeating. We have these fantasies of working out hard and achieving imaginary sculpted bodies.
It doesn’t work that way. Many people can work out religiously and still not achieve picture-perfect bodies.
I love walking and it has always been the most effective exercise for me to stay in shape and lose my muffin top. Yet, I rarely walk without seeing many people attempting to run who really could benefit more from consistently walking.
Walking is not a runner-up exercise. It’s just a different exercise and one that is safe and easy for most people to do on a regular basis.
I’m expecting my body to get me around for another 40 years or so and I want all my parts to work. That means choosing exercise and movement that makes my body feel better and that will not injure it.
You Need to Eat More Fat
When I say you need to eat more fat, I’m talking about protective healthy fats: olive oil, coconut oil, butter, eggs, avocados, and nuts. Go ahead and ban all vegetable, canola, and other common oils. That stuff is toxic and combined with sugar and processed grains—it’s truly horrible stuff to put into your body.
But fat itself is healthy, protective, and necessary to have a healthy weight. One of the problems with modern dieting is the whole idea of cutting calories. The first place people did this was with fat. This bad mistake from the fifties totally derailed the diets of the next few generations.
When fat was removed from food—so was taste and that feeling of feeling satisfied. Fat makes food taste good, it’s good for you, and you often eat less when you are getting enough of the right kinds of fat.
You Need to Eat More REAL Food
Real food is the kind that is minimally processed. Think proteins from animals (meat), eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and healthy fats. These types of food are nutritionally dense and our body needs them to be healthy.
Things like bread, pasta, cereals, rice, and other grain-based foods provide little to no nutrition and they raise your insulin and cause the body to store fat rather than use it as fuel. You do not need any of these types of food for health.
The Timing of When You Eat Matters
This is true for me. I do much better when I stick to three meals a day and no snacking in between or in the evening.
To be able to do this though, I have to eat solid meals that fill me up. I try to eat a protein, some vegetables, and a tablespoon or two of fat at every meal. I do eat carbs such as potatoes and winter squash because that makes me feel better too.
When I eat like this, I don’t get hungry between meals or in the evenings. Even though it might seem like it would be fattening, to eat that much fat, overall, I eat much less than I did when I ate lots of empty foods like bread or pasta.
Also for me, eating lighter in the evening helps. I can tell a big difference when I go out too many evenings or eat too many big dinners.
So, how do you lose weight after 50?
You work with your body—not against it. Working with your body to give it real food that nourishes it while keeping it satiated is what works. Eating real food and plenty of fats helps curb cravings for fake foods.
Modern food and eating habits unfortunately have wreaked havoc on our bodies and health. Obesity, diabetes, and other diseases are common place in people at younger and younger ages. Sugar and processed foods not only make us crave them more—they totally screw up our fat-metabolizing hormones.
Most of the common food now eaten is not benign; it’s actually damaging your body and health. The proliferation of processed foods that are full of junk ingredients, sugar, and killer fats has created the first generation that is not expected to exceed the life expectancy of their parents’ generation.
It makes me sad, knowing that my children and grandchildren probably won’t have my life expectancy because of the way people eat now.
It’s not all gloom and doom though. When I was a kid, though I didn’t have access to lots of the junk food available now, my diet wasn’t perfect. Hydrogenated oils and margarine were common place. I ate cereals, breads, and pasta.
Today, I have access to good vegetables and fruits all year long. Healthy fats and oils are available in almost every grocery store. It’s got a ways to go, but it is possible to get humanely raised meat. We truly have access to good and healthy food.
Sounds good, but what about the cost of eating healthy?
Lots of people think it’s more expensive to eat healthy. It’s really not. And even if it is, wouldn’t it still make sense to feed yourself food that is nourishing and good for your body?
If you plan your menus and cook at home, it’s usually costs no more to eat fresh food than the processed and take-out food that most people eat.
The Best Part?
The best part is that you can look and feel your best without feeling deprived. Eating real food most of the time is pleasurable—not miserable.
I know it might seem impossible to live life without bread, pasta, or rice at every meal but I go days without eating those foods and I actually feel better without them. However, I’m a human and I have many years of eating and craving those foods behind me so once in a while, something gets the better of me.
But here’s the truth. For the most part, I don’t even think of foods like cupcakes, cookies, breads, candy, or other kinds of sweets or junk food. It just doesn’t cross my mind and I don’t have to exercise willpower at all to avoid most sweets and junk food.
I buy and eat the foods I do because I genuinely enjoy this way of eating and I can eat until I’m full and still maintain a healthy and attractive weight.
How to Lose Weight After 50
Very few people can eat anything they want and stay thin, fit, and healthy. Even if it doesn’t show in weight, poor food choices do affect health eventually. Let’s face it, for most of us to lose weight we have to restrict something.
Diets have been proven again and again to not work. Weight lost, rarely stays off and often it comes back with a vengeance. Most overweight people have a lot of experience with diets.
Restricting sugar and grains does help because it helps your hormones do the job they were meant to do and it reduces your cravings. Adding in healthy fats, plenty of vegetables and proteins gives your body lots of nutritional love.
Here are some of my favorite LIFE-CHANGING resources.
I didn’t come up with this on my own. I read quite a bit over several years to figure out what made sense and worked for me. During my forties, I was a solid size fourteen. For the last few years, I’ve maintained a size between 8 and 10 almost effortlessly. I look and feel great and I’m able to enjoy a very full life of work, travel, cycling, hiking, and fun times with family and friends.
These have been the most influential on my diet. I consider each to be groundbreaking in that they all went against popular diet advice. Yet, they contain thorough and well-laid out arguments that how we were taught to eat was just plain old wrong.
These are links to Amazon. If you purchase a book through one of these links, I receive a tiny advertising fee from Amazon that does not affect your price. I consider each of these to be vital in understanding how food affects your body. I’ve listed them in the order I read them.
How We Get Fat
This was not the first book I read that promoted healthy fats. I can thank Suzanne Somers for getting me to eat fat at an earlier age. However, this is a powerful book that explains the science of what causes people to get fat. Gary Taubes wrote an earlier book on the subject but this book was written so more people could understand this subject. Getting fat is NOT just about calories in!
For years I had digestive issues. I always felt bad and at work it was a real problem. I kept medicine in my purse, my car, my desk, and at home to help alleviate embarrassing digestive problems. I found the Wheat Belly website and decided to give up wheat for a few days. Within three days—every single chronic digestive symptom I had was gone. Not better, gone.
I then read the book and never looked back. Giving up wheat completely changed the quality of my life. Since writing the original book, Dr. Davis now encourages avoiding other grains as well. Everyone I know who has given up wheat has experienced immediate improvement in their digestive life.
It Starts with Food
This is the original Whole 30 book and the one that gives the most thorough explanation of Whole 30. Whole 30 is NOT a diet. It is a 30-day process of changing your brain and body. It is a powerful experience. I credit Whole 30 with changing my entire relationship with food and how I eat. While not a diet, it truly shows how to lose weight after 50 in a healthy way. Here’s how it changed my life.
The Big FAT Surprise
This book is the story of how fat was taken out of our diets in the 1950’s and 1960’s and the utter disaster that has been on our health since. The author spent nine years researching and went back and read the original studies and even talked to the surviving researchers.
By the time I was reading this, I was already eating real food and eating fat. This book made me angry and sad because people have been so misled about what to eat.
The saddest part for me was eating a low-fat diet has never been shown to be an effective way to lose weight. The only thing it does correlate with Is cancer rates. Those two things have showed up in research for a long time but were always buried.
I am passionate about this!
Obviously, I am passionate about staying healthy and eating right and to me that means way more than going on a temporary diet. I want everyone reading this to love eating, moving, and experiencing joy in life.
Diets are NO fun! Eating real food and feeling good is fun.
So, here’s to better living through eating better my friends!
Get Sara's Weekly "AHA!" Newsletter
Sign up here to read about real life AHA moments that can shift your thinking. These are the AHAs that stop me and my friends in our tracks and help us live meaningful and successful lives.
I'm a former counselor, career services leader, and college advisor. Now I coach and write at My Think Big Life promoting health and personal growth.