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Why Losing Weight Is So Challenging in Your 50s

You might have noticed that as the candles on your birthday cake increase every year, so do the inches around your waist. This could be the case even if you live a relatively active lifestyle.

Once you’re past the age of 50, you’ll find that fat starts accumulating around your waistline. Losing weight in your 50s becomes increasingly hard.

The transition from young adulthood to middle age is often accompanied by weight gain1, even if it feels like it happened overnight1.

Like an unwelcomed guest, the fat is hard to get rid of. But why does it become increasingly hard to lose weight in your 50s? There are several reasons why losing weight after 50 can prove challenging. Let’s look at why losing weight in your 50s is challenging.

Losing Weight in Your 50s: The Science Behind It

The average weight gain from early to mid-adulthood is estimated to be about 0.5 to 1 kilogram per year2. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, weight gain accelerates between 29 and 39 years old. Men gain about 7 kilograms during this decade, while women gain around 3 kilograms.

While gaining weight for most is too easy, losing it can be significantly harder after the age of 50. But why is that so?

Decrease in Lean Tissue and Muscle Mass

a 3d image of a muscle mass

Once you’re past the age of 30, the amount of lean tissue including muscle mass decreases3 while body fat steadily climbs. Fat accumulates around our waists and even around our internal organs.

This then slows down metabolism and the body is unable to burn calories at the same rate that it used to. If there is no decrease in caloric intake, it can lead to an increase in fat and eventually weight gain.

If left uncontrolled, this harmful cycle can affect your health, wellbeing, and quality of life.

The solution might seem simple to lose weight. However, it’s not as easy as it seems. Losing weight in your 50s is significantly more challenging than when you were younger.

Now, let’s look at the contributing factors that make it difficult to lose weight in your 50s.

Why is Losing Weight in Your 50s so Tough?

a girl having an insomnia

Lifestyle Changes

To some extent, putting on pounds is part of aging. This is partly because of the lifestyle changes that come with growing older. Families and career responsibilities may contribute to sedentary lifestyles and weight gain.

Even if you are fairly active, it is difficult to switch to higher intensity workouts all of a sudden. As we age, the body weakens while the chances of injury increase. Furthermore, old injuries can act up again and new injuries can take longer to heal.

Sleep Cycle

Lack of sleep has been consistently linked to weight gain. A study released by PubMed revealed that participants who were sleep-deprived had greater appetites7. Lack of sleep may affect the hormones ghrelin and leptin, which increase appetite and inhibit hunger.

Change in Hormones

Drastic biological and hormonal changes occur in men and women during their 50s. One of the major change women tend to experience is menopause which occurs at a median age of 51 years old4. The decrease in estrogen can lead to fat deposits around the abdomen, hips, and thighs.

According to a study, most women gain 2 to 5 pounds5 as their bodies transition into menopause.  A slower metabolism and muscle loss are caused by testosterone deficiency in men.

Additionally, ghrelin and leptin6 — the hormones that regulate an individual’s satiety and appetite also tend to fluctuate. This can affect how hungry you are and how satisfying a meal is, making it difficult to stick to a healthy diet.

Metabolism Declination in Your 50s

Muscle mass and metabolism are somewhat connected. This is because as your muscle mass decreases and fat increases, your metabolism slows down. This means your body requires fewer calories. However, if your appetite remains the same, your caloric intake will surpass what your metabolism burns – unfortunately, causing weight gain.

Food and Alcohol

Food and alcohol intake also plays a major role in physical health and can also cause you to gain more weight as you age.

Exercise releases endorphins, which block pain and make you feel calm and happy. Junk food that is high in salt, sugar, and fat content has a similar effect. As you age, your body begins to crave unhealthy food to replace the endorphins it used to receive from physical activity.

In addition to alcohol intake, most alcoholic beverages are high in calories. A 12-ounce can of beer contains around 153 calories while a 5-ounce glass of wine has 125 calories.

If you keep ending your day with a glass of alcohol, expect it to show up around your waist over time.

bottles of wine

Stress

Stress can seriously hinder your fat-loss journey. The stress hormone cortisol can increase your fat and carbohydrate metabolism.

While this process is essential for survival, it also increases appetite. Cortisol levels can also cause sweet, fatty, and salty cravings. As a result, you’re more likely to indulge in a bag of chips or fast food than a well-balanced meal.

For men, an excess of cortisol can also lead your body to produce less testosterone. This may lead to a decrease in muscle mass, as well as slow down how many calories your body burns.

Is Exercising and Dieting Effective for Losing Weight in Your 50s?

While physical exercise and dieting are great for remaining fit and healthy, they may not show results as far as fat loss is concerned.

Studies have often revealed that moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or walking for 30 minutes a day is only recommended for maintaining good health9. Any weight or fat loss in your 50s from such activities can be practically nonexistent.

a person going up the stairs to lose weight

It might Help…

A well-balanced diet and exercise might seem as if it would result in better results, but that isn’t always true. Research has revealed that a combination of dieting and exercising over a 12-month period only generated an average weight loss of 4 pounds10.

Exercise and diet to create long-term results require a person weighing 68 kilograms or 150 pounds to do brisk walking every day for a minimum of 90 minutes11 or running for 30 minutes.

…but efforts might plateau

However, such efforts might have a limited outcome as the body can reach a plateau. The increase in appetite from burning those calories might further slow down any progress.

The fact is, if you’re in your 50s, exercise and diet alone aren’t effective for getting rid of stubborn fat.

You may be physically healthy, but you may not get the results you were hoping for if you’re planning to get rid of stubborn pockets of fat.

using measuring scale in the morning to check weight gain or loss

An Alternative: Non-invasive Fat Removal Treatments

If you’ve had more than your fair share of dieting and have met your quota for exercising but still fail to see satisfactory results, it may be time to consider non-invasive fat removal treatments. By getting rid of excess, unwanted, and stubborn fat, you might finally be able to break the vicious cycle of losing the fat and gaining it right back again.

There are two ways to get rid of it through non-invasive fat removal treatments:

Thermolysis/ Laser Lipolysis

a girl going through a Sculpsure treatment

Thermolysis or laser lipolysis is a non-invasive fat removal technique that uses laser-induced heat to target fat pockets.

SculpSure, a non-invasive fat removal treatment approved by the FDA, uses lasers to break down fat cells stored in the body. The 45°C to 47°C heat damages the fat cells which are drained through the body’s lymphatic system and occur over the course of 3 months.

An additional benefit to this process is that the lasers deeply penetrate the dermal layers of the skin and stimulate the production of collagen. It can also be an effective treatment for loose and sagging skin, or even stretchmarks and cellulite.

Cryolipolysis

a lady going through the Coolsculpting for her fat freezing treatment

Cryolipolysis is the opposite of thermolysis. Cryolipolysis works to target the stubborn fat cell and causes apoptosis, also known as cell death, by using temperatures as low as -10°C to -13°C.

The only FDA-approved machine for cryolipolysis, CoolSculpting, uses applicators to freeze the fat cells without damaging any tissue in the surrounding area. The damaged cells are then naturally eliminated through the lymphatic system over the course of 3 months.

Final Thoughts

Unwanted fat is unappealing and hard to get rid of, but even the fittest people struggle with it. This is especially true if you’re over the age of 50. Though dieting and exercising can help you become hale and hearty, fat deposits can be extremely difficult to get rid of owing to a host of factors.

If you have been exercising or are frustrated by the lack of results despite your efforts, these non-invasive treatments can help you get rid of unwanted fat much more quickly. Armed with the information you need, you’re all set to welcome a healthier, slimmer version of you no matter your age.