Sustainable Ways To Lose Weight In Your 50s

  • Shazia AsimPhD Scholar (Pharmacology), University of Health Sciences Lahore, Pakistan

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The old saying goes like this “Life begins at 40”, but there is a change in this trend. Now, your 50s are considered the golden age of your life. In your 50s, you are stable, feel more confident, and are beginning to get the most out of your life. It is important to embrace these golden years with health and vigour. Nevertheless, this age is also the phase of life when your bodies begin to change – even if you haven’t changed your diet or lifestyle. It is a fact that losing weight and maintaining the ability to exercise tends to get difficult after 40 years, and exercise or physical activity pays off less than it used to. 

Whether it be a change in lifestyle, diet, exercise, hormone levels, or a new medical condition, there are many reasons why you may feel a difference in your body weight. It is important to maintain a standard weight at this golden period but how can you do it sustainably? Let us walk through the challenges and solutions to lose weight sustainably in your 50s.

The challenges of weight management in your 50s

Losing weight is not an easy challenge at any age and is even more difficult if you have already lived half a century in this world. Several physiological and psychological factors are working against you in your weight loss efforts. Let’s consider these following factors: 


There are different myths about basal metabolic rate and weight. The misconception is that there is an age-related decline in basal metabolic rate that leads to weight gain. Many people blame metabolic problems for weight struggles. But your metabolism naturally controls itself to meet your body’s needs. It’s seldom the cause of weight gain or loss. 

In general, anyone who burns more calories than they take in will lose weight.1 The standard daily intake of calories varies depending on metabolism and physical activity levels, among other things and the recommended daily calorie intake is between 2,000 to 2,500 calories a day.2

Hormonal changes

There are hormonal shifts that occur in your 50s that impact your weight. This age-related decline in hormone production is associated with increased fat mass and a decrease of lean tissue in both genders, consequently, may cause obesity.3

Loss of muscle mass 

The age-related loss of skeletal muscle mass leads to reduced physical performance and muscle strength, which increases the risk of functional limitations, disability, and mortality. Reduced muscle strength may lead to difficulty or inability to carry out activities of daily routine including physical activity and exercise, which may lead to weight gain.4

Joint issues and other medical conditions

Age-related conditions like osteoarthritis, can cause complications, such as pain, weight gain, and sleep difficulties.5 Other medical conditions, such as depression, hypertension, and other associated medications, may also cause weight gain.6

Stress and sleep

Disturbance in sleep may hinder an individual’s efforts to lose weight. Similarly, stress and emotional states influence the quantity and quality of foods eaten and lead to weight gain, especially in your 50s.7

What can you do to lose weight in your 50s?

Weight loss can be achieved through dietary restriction and/or increased physical activity, however, this must be done for the long-term as long-term behavioural self-regulation is the hallmark of successful weight control. 

The following are a few considerations that can help you lose weight sustainably in your 50s:

Nourish the body wisely

Balanced and nutrient-dense diet8

Your diet is a key player in maintaining your weight. If you are trying to lose weight, there are a few key points that you should always keep in mind:

  • Focus on whole food: fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains
  • Familiarise and educate yourself about your body's calorie and nutritional needs and try to meet them without any additional calories
  • Keep a balance between your carbohydrate, protein, and fat intake.
  • Focus on complex carbohydrates that offer you more fibre e.g whole grain, oats, fruits, lentils, whole wheat bread, brown rice, etc.
  • Your protein should be lean and should come from sources such as . fish, chicken, tofu, legumes, etc.
  • Try to derive your fat from foods like olive oil, avocados, and nuts
  • Avoid processed food and foods with added sugar. Opt for natural sweeteners like honey.
  • Be very careful of fad diets such as the keto diet or Atkin diet. A fad diet typically focuses on specific foods, and food groups, while often excluding or severely limiting others. This type of diet plan promises rapid results and while they may lead to short-term weight loss, they are generally unsustainable and can be detrimental to your overall health.9

Portion control

Be mindful of your portion sizes. It helps you avoid overeating. You can use smaller plates, and know your hunger and satiety cues. It may be helpful to have a ‘eat until you’re 80% full’ mindset as well.

Plan your meals

You should plan regular meals at an appropriate time of the day making sure that most of the time you stick to home-cooked meals. This helps you manage a balanced diet and avoid excess sugar, calories, and excessive snacking. You can plan your meals according to your mood and any other medical condition.  


Water helps in digestion and maintenance of healthy metabolism so make sure to drink ample fluids throughout the day. It’s common to mistake thirst for hunger, which can lead to unnecessary calorie intake. Substituting sugary drinks for green tea would be more beneficial to your health too.10

Keep a food journal

This is to track your food and nutrient intake. Tracking your food intake helps you become more aware of your dietary habits and areas of improvement. Nutrient tracking helps you keep up with your nutrient needs without taking excess calories. There are several apps available that can make tracking your food much easier. Here are a few suggestions:  

  • MyPlate 
  • Calorie Counter 
  • PlateJoy 
  • MyFitnessPal

Ask the expert

Sometimes, despite all efforts, you fail to lose weight. In such cases, you should consider consulting a nutritionist or dietician for personalised advice. Experts can help you by suggesting a meal plan based on your personal needs, preferences, and health status.

Regular Physical activity for longevity11,12,13

Regular exercise and physical activity help you burn calories, maintain good muscle strength,  and speed up the metabolic rate. There are several factors you should keep in mind while making exercise a permanent activity in your life:

  • You should select activities that you enjoy so that you can adhere to them in your routine for the long term
  • Being regular and consistent in physical activity is the most important rule. It helps you lose calories, contributes to your overall health, is excellent for your mental health, and helps with sleep issues. In short, it enhances your overall quality of life.
  • You should gradually increase your activity according to your fitness level to prevent plateauing and to keep the activity exciting. Slowly, you can increase the duration and intensity of your activity.
  • Remember that, in your 50s, it's about the right exercise, not just more exercise. 

Following are a few examples of exercises that you can do:

  • Cardiovascular exercise: To improve your cardiovascular health, you can engage in brisk walking, jogging, swimming, or cycling. Anything that gets your heart rate up! It helps you to lose calories and strengthen your muscles.
  • Strength training: Strength training helps build muscle so that you can lose weight even at rest. It also helps counteract age-related muscle loss. Push-ups, sit-ups, squats, climbing stairs, hill walking, using resistance bands, and weight lifting are different examples of strength training.
  • Flexibility and balance training: Flexibility and balance training are beneficial for fitness. Yoga and Tai Chi are good examples of this kind of training. These involve stretching and movement of joints in their full range of motion.
  • Walking or power walking: Although It is a low-impact exercise, it is easy on joints and provides a sustainable way of losing weight. You can gradually increase the duration of your walks over time.
  • Pilates: These stretching exercises are meant for core strength, flexibility, and overall body conditioning.
  • Yoga: Yoga emphasises mindfulness. It offers a holistic way of losing and maintaining weight in your 50s. It enhances muscle tone, allows you a wider range of flexibility in your joints, reduces stress, and improves metabolism.
  • Other options: Other examples of physical training are swimming, dancing, elliptical training, cycling, water aerobics, and rowing.
  • Combination of different activities: Depending on your fitness and health status, you can opt for a diversity of exercise or a combination of cardiovascular, flexibility, or strength training. Try to select activities that you enjoy, like dancing, cycling, hiking, etc so that it may become a consistent part of your daily routine.
  • Ask the expert: If you have any health issues or are going to start a new physical regimen, it is always advisable to consult a fitness specialist.

Quality Sleep

According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), people who sleep less consume more calories - and even yearn for higher-calorie foods - than those who sleep longer.14 

Prioritise a consistent sleep schedule to support overall health and aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night.15

Stress Management 

Stress causes hormonal changes that can increase blood sugar and blood insulin levels. When stressed, your cortisol hormone (stress hormone) levels increase and cause you to want foods high in calories, fat, and sugar. Stress can also disturb levels of other hormones involved in hunger and satiety. 

Practice stress-reducing activities such as meditation, deep breathing, or yoga. Nurture a positive attitude and find outlets for relaxation.16


  • There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach when it comes to weight loss, and individual factors can vary
  • Consult with healthcare professionals or registered dietitians for personalised advice based on your specific nutritional and calorie needs, and any health conditions that may need consideration also 
  • Please remember that losing weight is about monitoring and adjusting according to your body’s needs and health conditions 
  • Make small goals and don’t forget to celebrate your achievements because your 50s is a pivotal age where weight, health and happiness converge.


  1. Cleveland Clinic. Metabolism: what it is, how it works and disorders. [Internet]. Cleveland Clinic. [updated 30 August 2021; cited 21 February 2024]. Available from: 
  2. NHS. What should my daily intake of calories be? [Internet]. [updated 17 April 2023; cited 22 February 2024]. Available from:   
  3. Pataky MW, Young WF, Nair KS. Hormonal and metabolic changes of aging and the influence of lifestyle modifications. Mayo Clin Proc. 2021 Mar. [cited 22 February 2024]; 96(3):788–814. Available from: 
  4. Cava E, Yeat NC, Mittendorfer B. Preserving healthy muscle during weight loss1,2,3. Adv Nutr. 5 May 2017. [cited 22 February 202]; 8(3):511–9. Available from: 
  5. Scheuing WJ, Reginato AM, Deeb M, Acer Kasman S. The burden of osteoarthritis: Is it a rising problem? Best Practice & Research Clinical Rheumatology. 1 June 2023. [cited 23 February 2024]; 37(2):101836. Available from: 
  6. Fernstrom MH. Drugs that cause weight gain. Obesity Research. November 1995. [cited 23 February 2024]; 3(S4). Available from: 
  7. Konttinen H. Emotional eating and obesity in adults: the role of depression, sleep and genes. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society. August 2020. [cited 23 February 2024]; 79(3):283–9. Available from: 
  8. Lim S. Eating a balanced diet: a healthy life through a balanced diet in the age of longevity. Journal of Obesity & Metabolic Syndrome. March 2018. [cited 23 February 2024]; 27(1):39. Available from:  
  9. Yeh J. Most fad diets fail because? The answer to your question. [Internet]. 2022. [cited 23 February 2024]. Available from:  
  10. Picco M.F. Water after meals: Does it disturb digestion? [Internet] Mayo Clinic. [cited 23 February 2024]. Available from:  
  11. Suryadinata RV, Wirjatmadi B, Adriani M, Lorensia A. Effect of age and weight on physical activity. Journal of Public Health Research. 3 July 2020. [cited 23 February 2024]; 9(2):jphr.2020.1840. Available from: 
  12. Guler O, Tuncel O, Bianco A. Effects of functional strength training on functional movement and balance in middle-aged adults. Sustainability. January 2021. [cited 23 Febraury 2024]; 13(3):1074. Available from: 
  13. Buch A, Kis O, Carmeli E, Keinan-Boker L, Berner Y, Barer Y, et al. Circuit resistance training is an effective means to enhance muscle strength in older and middle aged adults: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Ageing Research Reviews. 1 August 2017. [cited 23 February 2024]; 37:16–27. Available from:  
  14. Salamon M. Snooze more, eat less? Sleep deprivation may hamper weight control. [Internet]. Harvard Health. 2022 [cited 22 February 2024].. Available from: 
  15. Bogh AF, Jensen SB, Juhl CR, Janus C, Sandsdal RM, Lundgren JR, Noer MH, Vu NQ, Fiorenza M, Stallknecht BM, Holst JJ. Insufficient sleep predicts poor weight loss maintenance after 1 year. Sleep. 1 May 2023. [cited 23 February 2024]; 46(5):zsac295. Available from: 
  16. Cleveland Clinic. You guessed it: long-term stress can make you gain weight. [Internet]. Cleveland Clinic. [cited 22 February 2024]. Available from:  

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Shazia Asim

PhD Scholar (Pharmacology), University of Health Sciences Lahore, Pakistan

I have extensive experience of teaching Pharmacology at an undergraduate medical institute in Lahore, Pakistan. I mentor my students by nurturing their curiosity and encouraging them to know this subject through interactive discussions. I also like to guide my students in research projects and learn pharmacology through real world application of pharmacological principles.

During my MPhil, my keen interest in research work on Aloe vera plant extract and its effect on urinary tract infection got me a gold medal. Currently, I am enrolled at the University of Health Sciences, Lahore as a Ph.D. scholar. Other than my profession and my research work, I get immense satisfaction in writing. I am an avid writer and contribute insightful articles to medical journals and mainstream newspapers, both local and international. I am a strong advocate of preventive health care and my mission is to empower individuals with knowledge that encourages them to take charge of their wellbeing.

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