Meeting your weight loss goals in a healthy, sustainable way at any age can bring challenges, but this is especially true for those in their 50s or older. Aging can bring things like hormonal changes, loss of muscle mass, and a slower metabolism, which can make it difficult to lose weight after 50.
Thankfully, there are still ways to meet your goals while making sure you’re taking care of your body and giving it the nutrients it needs on a daily basis. To learn more about healthy weight loss, we talked with a couple of expert dietitians to get their advice on eating habits that can help you lose belly fat in your 50s.
After, for more healthy eating tips, check out 5 Abdominal Fat Diet Secrets That Actually Work.
One of the best nutrients you can eat for weight loss and maintaining your overall health is protein. And because of protein’s ability to help you build muscle, it’s also crucial in the aging process as your muscle mass begins to decline.
“Protein has many health benefits, but most people don’t know that it can speed up weight loss if you hit your daily protein goals,” says Courtney D’Angelo, MS, RD, author at Go Wellness. “One of the biggest reasons for this is that protein helps you feel full for longer periods of time throughout the day. So, automatically, you’re going to be cutting calories because you won’t feel like eating extra snacks or junk food. Protein is also great for building lean muscle, and when you add daily exercise to hitting your protein goals, you’ll be able to cut the fat and build the lean body you’re looking for.”
Another suggestion that our dietitians have for those wanting to lose weight after 50 is trying intermittent fasting. If you’re interested, talk to your doctor or dietitian to see if it might work for you and your goals!
“This approach to eating is better referred to as a diet pattern than an actual diet. It is a form of eating that restricts calories for a period of time, between 16 to 24 hours, in an effort to allow the body to burn fat and repair cells,” says Trista Best, MPH, RD, LD at Balance One Supplements. “Those over the age of 50 may begin experiencing slower metabolism and difficulty in weight loss, especially around the abdominal area, so integrating a routine of intermittent fasting 2 to 3 times a week could help speed up their weight loss efforts.”
“Another benefit of intermittent fasting is its ability to improve longevity, which those over the age of 50 may also be interested in achieving, and longer fasting periods are said to have effects at the cellular level which improve inflammation and immune response as well,” Best continues.
Whole grains can be a healthy and necessary part of your daily diet because they are nutrient-dense and high in fiber. D’Angelo notes though that some whole grains are better than others for weight loss.
“The best whole grains for belly fat loss are those such as brown rice, whole oats, and buckwheat groats. That’s because these types of whole grains haven’t gone through the grinding or processing of their kernels into flour, which means they won’t be full of calories,” says D’Angelo. “So, you can eat these types of foods until you feel nice and full, without going overboard on calories. The whole grains to limit are those in which the kernels have been ground into flour, such as whole-grain bread, whole-grain bagels, and whole-grain crackers.”
The Mediterranean diet has been found to be a healthy way of eating for your heart health and longevity, and Best assures that it may be a great way to lose weight after 50, too.
“This approach to eating is another diet pattern rather than a fad diet,” says Best. “The traditional Mediterranean diet is void of processed foods like refined carbohydrates and integrates plenty of healthy fats. While it focuses primarily on fish and seafood as the source of protein, it does allow for some red meat as well. This diet pattern can be more intriguing to those who prefer to still eat red meat but are wanting to lose abdominal fat. The Mediterranean diet’s lack of processed food and refined carbs, along with its integration of whole grains and healthy fats make it an anti-inflammatory and nutrient-rich diet.”
“Those who follow this eating pattern are eating flowering, calorie-dense foods and also taking in foods that will lower their inflammation, both of which will help reduce weight and abdominal fat,” Best continues. “And by getting rid of chronic inflammation, in the body, the metabolism can work more efficiently and burn belly fat.”