How Hormones Affect Your Weight After 50.
The most important part of losing weight after 50 is understanding your hormones, the hormones that are associated with eating, fat-metabolism, hunger, and feeling full.
July 2023 Update: I wrote this three years ago and I believe it is probably the most important thing to read if you really want to understand how food affects your body.
I am not kidding. The part of weight loss that seems to be missing from mainstream discussions is how food affects your hormones.
By understanding my hormones and how they affect my weight, I can eat anything I want at times. But I can’t eat anything and everything all the time.
This means that I understand that all food will have some kind of effect on my body. I want to minimize the harmful effects and maximize the beneficial effects.
When you understand this, losing weight is less mysterious and more manageable.
This is the most important part of dieting because once you understand how this works, you’ll never look at food the same.
Here’s what you’ll learn in this post:
- You’ll learn about four hormones that affect your weight.
- How and why your body stores fat, uses fat, and how you can finally access fat for energy.
- Why you feel or don’t feel hungry, and how to understand hunger.
- How your body knows it has had enough to eat and how to improve that.
- What kinds of foods promote health and healthy fat metabolism.
- How and when to eat to promote health and healthy fat metabolism.
This might sound complicated but I’m going to make it easy for you to understand. It is possible to learn to eat so you aren’t hungry and you can lose weight too. It all starts with your hormones.
If you want to lose weight after 50, you have to know how hormones affect your weight!
As a weight loss and life coach for women over 50, I’m at expert at helping you use your MIND to get the results you want in your body and in your life!
Just a reminder. This is not intended as medical advice, it is meant to be informative and an example of what I do and why. This may not be the right thing for you right now because of health reasons. I also use simplified descriptions of body functions at times to make this easier to understand.
Right now, you might believe things like:
- It’s impossible to lose weight after 50
- It’s impossible to lose weight during menopause
- It’s impossible to lose weight after menopause
- It’s harder to lose weight after 50
- It’s natural to gain weight as you get older
- Nothing will work for me
While you might think your age has changed how your body manages weight and fat-metabolism, it’s most likely because of decades of eating habits that have left you insulin-resistant and your other eating hormones out-of-whack.
This is so important to understand.
The reason that most diets are ineffective is because they don’t heal your hormone response to food, which in turn, prevents your body from accessing your fat stores and metabolizing fat properly.
Out of date diet information that recommends low fat and lots of grains is responsible for a generation or two of overweight and sick people. Obesity and diabetes type II are at the highest level they have ever been.
Being thin isn’t the only goal for weight loss. How you eat is important to your overall health! Harsh diets that only look at a number on the scale do not work long-term. To be successful you have to work with your own body and nourish it as opposed to depriving it.
How Hormones Affect Weight After 50
Almost all traditional diet information, left out the most important aspect: our hormones regulate our metabolism, fat storage, weight gain or loss, hunger, and satiety.
We’ve all heard, “Eat less, exercise more.”
Or statements about all calories are equal. We need to eat less calories than we burn.
These are both dangerous beliefs because they leave out the most important part of managing your weight.
I’m going to be blunt here. The hormone responses that lead to you gaining weight are also wrecking your health.
When your insulin is continually elevated and your cells are insulin-resistant, you are heading down a path of not just being fat, but of suffering disease that is preventable. In addition, you damage your skin and increase overall inflammation in your body.
Research is showing that almost all disease begins with inflammation. Inflammation ain’t no joke!
Ladies, this is not good. And I would say, many of you are headed down this path. Look around. You can see how food is literally wrecking your body and that of those around you.
Women aren’t just overweight.
- They are tired, exhausted even.
- They aren’t sleeping.
- They have real diseases and illnesses.
- They are depressed and anxious.
- They have wrinkles and poor skin tone.
This is about so much more than your weight.
Yet, the solution to your weight, also holds solutions for your health.
Why People are Obese and Sick
- Inaccurate diet information
- Overconsumption of unhealthy fats and oils
- Under consumption of healthy fats and oils
- Eating too many processed foods that create over desire and increased insulin production
- Eating too often
- Eating too much
- Eating too much sugar and foods that act like sugar in the body
- High sugar drinks such as soda
- Artificial sweeteners
All of these things promote unhealthy brain patterns around food, poor hormone response in your body, cravings, and overeating.
The good news is that while bad eating habits got you in trouble, you can learn new habits and improve your hormone response to food.
When your hormones are working as they should, you can finally begin to shed your extra weight.
However, you can’t get to a healthy weight by using out-of-date methods or methods that ignore the effect certain foods have on your body.
Diet Misinformation that Leads to Weight Gain
I grew into adulthood during the low-fat, high carbohydrate diet era. This really got traction in the 70’s and is still floating around as the way to do things.
Even today, when there is research and data that tells us what really makes us fat, people still believe it is, eating too much fat.
The truth is that what makes us fat is keeping our insulin high, too much of the time.
The way we lose weight and maintain it, is by lowering our insulin levels on a consistent basis.
It’s pretty easy and straight forward.
The problem is that for a lot of years, most of us, have eaten three meals and snacks around the clock that are based on the very foods that cause our hormones to be out-of-whack and cause us to gain weight.
In our diets, this looks like:
- Cereal, oatmeal, toast, and bagels for breakfast. Orange juice or banana on the side.
- A sandwich, chips, and soda for lunch. Maybe a cookie or two.
- Pasta or rice as a base for our dinner.
- Between meals we snack on chips, candy, cookies.
These types of food act like sugar in your body. And too much sugar or foods that act like sugar create negative outcomes on your weight and health.
What happens is that when you eat foods all day long, that raise your insulin, your body quits responding properly to insulin. You also lose your sensitivity to hormones that signal that you are hungry or that you are full.
So, you eat more often than you should and more food than you need.
It’s not that you are older—it’s that you’ve been eating the wrong way for a long time.
Hormones That Affect Your Weight
Our hormones are the reason that we gain or lose weight. For so long, we’ve been taught it is calories in or calories burned.
But here’s the thing; it’s actually how our hormones react to food that cause weight gain or loss. Additionally, there are some hormones such as cortisol that can cause us to gain weight, independent of what we eat.
When you understand more about your hormones, it is easier to make choices that support your body and your heath.
Eating in a way to maximize your hormones effectiveness is also really good for your health. All that sugar and processed food isn’t just a problem for your waistline–it’s a problem for your overall health.
All discussions about hormones that affect your weight have to begin with insulin. Insulin is a master hormone and it affects the other hormones that affect your hunger and appetite.
When you heal and improve your insulin response, you heal and improve all your other hormone responses.
Understanding insulin is critical not just to your weight management but to your overall health.
I first wrote about hormones in 2016–I believe more than ever that your hormones are the secret to weight loss!
You can’t lose weight and keep it off without learning to keep your insulin levels in your blood low.
Diets that have a positive effect on insulin
Back in the day, the Adkins Diet seemed like a miracle when people who did this diet lost lots of weight even though they were eating a lot of meat and fat.
It wasn’t a miracle. It was science.
That kind of diet kept insulin levels low and the body could finally access its fat stores.
People were able to effectively lose weight. However, as with all diets, people had trouble keeping the weight off and many went on to gain the weight back.
These days, the Keto Diet, has replaced the Adkins Diet for this type of eating. Some versions of this are very strict and probably not great for long-term use.
I mention these diets because they illustrate two things:
It’s not the amount of fat you eat that makes you fat. Both diets allow plenty of fat.
Both diets keep insulin production low and that promotes weight loss.
The problem I see with both, is that many people use them primarily for weight loss as opposed to nutrition.
Weight loss in itself is pointless if creating health in your body is not a primary goal.
This is probably the most important thing I can tell you.
- Losing weight at a cost to your health always backfires.
- Losing weight in a way that is not sustainable doesn’t create long-term positive results.
So, what does create positive long-term results of weight loss and healthy hormone function?
- Eating real food.
- Restricting eating to a smaller time period.
- Allowing a period of fasting within the day.
- Eating healthy fats.
- Retraining the brain around food.
- Restricting foods that cause cravings and unnatural responses to food.
It might all sound complicated but it’s really not. In fact, when you make the switch, your life is actually EASIER because food becomes easier to manage in your life.
But when you don’t manage your insulin response to the food you eat there are consequences.
Insulin-resistance can lead to:
- Weight gain
- Diabetes Type II
- Autoimmune disorders
Insulin has a huge job in the body. When you eat, it is released from the pancreas to handle and transport the glucose from your blood.
In addition to sugar, many foods are converted to glucose in large quantities. These include all grains and processed foods made with grains and sugar. This includes breads, pasta, cereals, rice, crackers, and similar foods.
Fruits and some vegetables can also have this effect and that’s why we limit them to smaller quantities. This includes potatoes, winter squash, beets, and most fruits.
If you have a moderate raise in glucose, insulin easily moves it to where it can be used for energy or stored for a short time to be used later.
If there is too much glucose in the blood for too much of the time, insulin has a much harder job. When there is more glucose than you can use for energy—it gets stored as fat.
Here’s an interesting note, fat itself does not make you fat. If you ate a meal entirely of fat, and I am not recommending that, it would not be stored as fat. It would just pass on through your body. Probably quicker than you would like!
Dietary fat doesn’t call on an insulin response and so is not stored for use as energy.
The fat you want to use for energy is the fat you already have in your body.
If you can keep your insulin levels low, your body will start to use its own fat for energy. That is a beautiful thing!
Leptin is also an important hormone. Leptin tells you when you are full. An easy way to understand this is to think of two different meals.
When you eat a meal of real food, such as small steak, a pile of broccoli with butter, and a salad with lots of veggies and an olive oil dressing. You will know when you are full. You’ll eat until you feel just satisfied, especially after you have been eating this way for a while.
Imagine another meal. Pick one of your favorites. Pizza, a plate of spaghetti, General Taos chicken. When I eat these kinds of food—it’s so easy to over eat. These types of foods, cause our insulin to go up and they override our natural hormone response to feel full.
Snack foods like cookies, chips, soda, and candy do the same thing. We can eat that stuff way past when we feel full.
We lose weight when our bodies know how to stop eating once we’ve had enough. It’s not willpower, it’s how your body was designed to function.
Ghrelin lets you know when you are hungry.
When your body is running correctly, you will know when you are truly hungry. The great thing is that it does not feel bad.
You read that correctly. Hunger will not feel bad.
It’s actually a pleasant feeling when it begins to happen. Let’s say you ate lunch at 1PM. Instead of getting the afternoon munchies, you instead feel, nothing related to food or cravings.
This is wonderful!
Then around 5 or 6, you might begin to feel a little hunger. It’s a pleasant little reminder to start preparing your dinner. By the time you eat, you will feel hungry for your healthy dinner and you’ll be able to eat until you are no longer hungry.
Thank you Ghrelin!
I would like this hormone just for its name, Glucagon. It also happens to be an important hormone and like leptin and ghrelin, it is affected by insulin.
Glucagon works with insulin to keep your blood sugar levels stable. It is the hormone that allows your cells to release glucose back into your blood when you need it.
This is gives you the energy you need between meals. So, don’t worry that you won’t have enough energy because you aren’t eating around the clock.
Our friendly hormone glucagon will take care of that.
How to Access Your Fat Stores
To lose weight, your body has to be able to access your own fat as fuel, for energy. This does not happen overnight.
If your weight is stable or you are gaining weight, your body is using the glucose from your food for energy.
When you are at a weight you like, that’s perfect. You are in balance. Glucose and fat are moving in and out of your cells as it is designed to do.
If you don’t like your weight or you are gaining, then you are eating too much or too often of foods that raise glucose and the excess is being stored as fat.
In short, don’t eat foods that raise your insulin too much and eat fewer times a day, including an intermittent fast between dinner and your first meal of the day.
They key is to eat in a way to minimize the body’s access to its favorite source of quick energy.
How Hormones Affect Your Weight After 50
At this point, I hope you understand that determining an effective eating plan, requires knowledge of your hormones and how they work to cause you to gain weight, stay stable, or lose weight.
While it might be frustrating to realize that you can’t eat like you did when you were younger or do the same things to get the weight off, it’s really a good thing.
Eating in a way that supports proper hormone function, helps you not just get to a natural weight, it can help you improve your overall health.
This is so important!
Keep showing up my friends,
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Hi, I'm Sara Garska and I'm so happy you're here! Big changes can happen with a shift in thinking. Over time, you transform your life into the one you always dreamed of having. As a certified life and weight loss coach, I can help you create a life you love. Click here to schedule a free 50-minute coaching session.