Losing weight after 50 is difficult, but not impossible

Losing weight after age 50 is definitely challenging.

Difficulties arise primarily from changes in metabolism, hormonal changes, medical disorders, nutritional deficiencies and lifestyle factors that often accompany aging.

The term weight loss resistance is often applied to these situations.

It is used to describe the difficulty some individuals have in losing weight despite diet and exercise efforts.

It is not a medical diagnosis in itself, but rather a way to describe a situation where specific weight loss strategies do not produce the expected results.

However, it is still entirely possible for older adults to lose weight.

It just requires some strategic lifestyle and diet adjustments.

Here are the main things to consider for weight loss after crossing 50:


Without any doubt, this is the main important factor in any weight loss journey.

, calorie intake vs expenditure

A fundamental principle in weight management is the energy-balance equation: calories in versus calories out.

If you consume more calories than your body uses, you will gain weight, and vice versa.

Tailored diets that create a calorie deficit while ensuring nutritional adequacy are essential.

A registered dietitian can help design such plans.

, eat carefully

Techniques that promote awareness of hunger and fullness cues may help prevent overeating.

, low carbohydrate diet

For some people, reducing carbohydrate intake may help increase satiety and reduce insulin spikes.

It is important to choose healthy fats and proteins as part of this diet.

However, it is not just about quantity; The quality of calories also matters.

Research has shown that a diet rich in processed foods, sugars, and unhealthy fats can lead to metabolic disturbances and weight gain.

, macronutrient composition

The balance of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins in one’s diet can affect weight loss.

A diet with a proper balance of macronutrients tailored to a person’s lifestyle and health status can enhance weight loss and management.

Low-carbohydrate and ketogenic diets have been popular and successful for some individuals, as they can decrease appetite and increase fat burning.

physical activity

Regular physical activity is an important component of weight loss and maintenance.

However, relying heavily on exercise without paying attention to dietary habits may be ineffective.

Additionally, some individuals may not engage in enough physical activity to create a significant calorie deficit, or they may overestimate the amount of energy expended during exercise.

The factors below are essential when it comes to using exercise effectively to lose weight.

, aerobic exercise

Regular aerobic activity increases calorie expenditure and is essential for heart health.

, strength training

Building muscle through resistance training can increase your basal metabolic rate (BMR), aiding weight loss and maintenance.

, Stability

The key is regular, continuous physical activity, not intermittent exercise.


Every person has a unique BMR, which is the number of calories your body needs to maintain its basic functions at rest.

BMR can be affected by age, sex, body composition, and genetic factors.

These two other factors are variable:

, Meal Time

Some studies suggest that eating more early in the day may be beneficial for metabolism.

, adaptive thermogenesis

This phenomenon occurs when the metabolic rate drops in response to calorie restriction, making it difficult to lose weight despite low calorie intake.

Aim for slow and steady weight loss to help reduce the effects of adaptive thermogenesis.


Resistance to the effects of the two hormones can have a significant impact on weight.

, insulin resistance

Insulin is a hormone that controls glucose uptake from the bloodstream.

Insulin resistance can make weight loss more challenging because it can lead to increased blood sugar levels and increased fat storage.

Also read: Evening workout is best for better blood sugar control

, leptin resistance

Leptin is a hormone that signals satiety (feeling full) and helps regulate energy balance.

Leptin resistance can disrupt these signals, leading to increased appetite and reduced energy expenditure.

Also read: Eat before and within 10 hours for weight control

sleep and stress

Poor sleep can disrupt hormonal balance, including hormones like ghrelin and leptin that regulate appetite.

Studies show that lack of sleep can increase calorie consumption, reduce energy expenditure, and increase insulin resistance.

Meanwhile, chronic stress can increase the secretion of cortisol, a hormone that can promote fat storage, especially in the abdominal area.

Stress can also lead to emotional eating and a preference for high-calorie, high-fat foods.

medical conditions

Two common medical conditions that can affect a person’s weight are:

, hypothyroidism

The thyroid gland controls metabolism.

Hypothyroidism, or underactive or reduced thyroid function, can slow metabolism and make it difficult to lose weight.

Also read: These symptoms which are not easily visible can be signs of thyroid problem.

, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

PCOS is associated with insulin resistance and obesity.

Women suffering from PCOS may find it difficult to lose weight due to hormonal imbalance.

A healthcare provider can assess hypothyroidism or PCOS and provide appropriate treatment.

For example, medications like metformin and supplements like alpha lipoic acid, chromium picolinate, and vanadium may improve insulin sensitivity in cases of insulin resistance or PCOS.

Also read: Asian women appear to be more likely to have PCOS


Some medications, including some antidepressants, antipsychotics, and antiepileptics, can cause weight gain or hinder weight loss efforts.

If current medications are contributing to weight gain, the healthcare provider may be able to suggest alternatives.

Other ways to help with weight loss include:

, Complementary Treatment

Acupuncture, massage, and other complementary therapies may have helpful benefits in managing stress and promoting overall well-being.

Also read: How getting a needle stuck in your ear can help you lose weight

, technology helps

The use of apps and devices to track physical activity, sleep, and dietary intake can provide valuable feedback and enhance self-monitoring.

, weight loss drugs

Along with diet and exercise efforts, medications such as orlistat, liraglutide, and phentermine-topiramate may be prescribed for weight loss.

, bariatric surgery

For individuals with severe obesity and related health problems, this surgical option may be the most effective treatment.

Also read: Weight loss isn’t the only benefit of bariatric surgery


The mind also plays an important role in any weight loss effort.

Habits and behaviors, such as eating in response to emotional cues rather than hunger, can thwart weight loss efforts.

There are also eating disorders that can significantly affect weight, for example binge eating disorder where the patient consumes large amounts of calories during binge eating.

Also read: Signs Your Loved One May Be a Binge Eater


Weight loss is a complex, multidimensional process that is influenced by a confluence of biological, psychological, environmental, and lifestyle factors.

This complexity is why one-size-fits-all approaches to weight loss are often ineffective.

Tailoring weight loss strategies to individuals’ specific circumstances is important for success.

A multidisciplinary approach, often combining several of the above strategies, is most successful for long-term weight loss and maintenance.

Interventions should be sustainable and consider individuals’ preferences, lifestyle, metabolic health, hormonal and nutritional adaptations.

Constant evaluation and adaptation of the weight loss strategy is necessary, as well as patience and perseverance.

It is also important for individuals to approach weight loss with a positive and health-focused mindset rather than focusing solely on looks.

This will lead to more sustainable behavior change and better overall health outcomes.

In conclusion, it is indeed possible to maintain a healthy body weight after 50.

Just remember, gradual and sustainable changes are usually more successful in the long term than quick fixes.

Datuk Dr Nor Ashikin Mokhtar is a consultant obstetrician and gynecologist and a functional medicine practitioner. For more information, email starhealth@thestar.com.my. The information provided is for educational and communication purposes only, and should not be construed as individual medical advice. The information published in this article is not intended to replace, replace, or replace the reader’s consultation with a health professional regarding their own medical care. star makes no warranty as to the accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other assurances of the content appearing in this column. star disclaims all responsibility for any loss, property damage or personal injury arising directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.

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