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Ways to Lose Weight Properly as You Age

A guide from AARP to drop pounds, reduce belly fat and jump-start your metabolism naturally

spinner image You can lose weight naturally through healthy eating and exercise. collage of images relating to exercise and healthy eating
Sarah Rogers (source: Getty Images (9))

Weight Loss

Science-backed ways to lose weight naturally.

Our bodies inevitably change as we age, and weight gain can be part of those shifts. As a result, older adults are increasingly susceptible to being swept up by the obesity epidemic overtaking the U.S. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, 44.3 percent of people ages 40 to 59, and 41.5 percent of those 60 and older, are already considered obese.  

Numerous lifestyle and physiological factors can make losing weight even more difficult than it was when we were younger. Medical conditions that affect energy, stamina and mobility can affect our activity levels. Challenges sleeping, loss of muscle mass, and declining estrogen and testosterone can also be factors in weight gain after 50.   

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Unfortunately, as the pounds creep up, so do your chances for negative health effects. Being overweight or obese can put you at risk for health conditions like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, osteoarthritis, body pain and even cognitive impairment.  

With all the focus on weight loss drugs and surgery, it can be helpful to remember there are still science-backed approaches to reaching or maintaining a healthy weight without prescriptions or direct medical intervention. Just be sure to consult with your health care provider on any new weight loss plans and exercise routines before you begin.

Understanding your BMI 

The first step on your weight loss journey may be taking a look at where your weight falls on the body mass index (BMI) scale. Medical professionals use BMI to determine whether someone is considered underweight (below 18.5), healthy weight (18.5 to 24.9), overweight (25 to 29.9) or obese (30 or higher). BMI is your weight in kilograms divided by your height in meters squared. It doesn’t measure important health factors such as the amount of muscle you have, your age or how you carry weight.  

Weight and your health after 50

The relationship between our body and weight changes as we age, both in terms of gaining and losing weight, and shifts in what’s considered a safe weight. Being obese and having visceral fat can pose particular health problems for people in their 50s, 60s, 70s and beyond.

Read more about what weight and health means in your:

It’s also important to remember that a healthy weight number can be different for different people. Some research has shown that people who were normal weight in early adulthood and gradually gained some weight in middle age and older (but did not get obese) can have the lowest mortality rates. The right weight for you should be determined in consultation with your doctor. 

If you are seeking to lose weight, it’s important to approach your journey with a focus on positive health outcomes. Fixating on dieting and weight loss can lead to negative body image, low self-esteem, eating disorders and malnutrition. Finding a weight management system that works for your lifestyle and that empowers you to feel your best and reach your goals is key to success. 

Calculate your BMI and learn how factors like age, race and gender can affect results.  

How do I lose weight fast?  

We’ve all been tempted to drop pounds fast for a special occasion or the dreaded weigh-in at the doctor’s office. But medical guidance recommends losing only 1 to 2 pounds per week, with the understanding that weight loss may fluctuate week to week.  

Losing weight too rapidly can result in lost nutrients, negative changes to your metabolism and lost muscle mass, which can be especially concerning for older adults.  

A slower, steadier pace can result in longer-term weight loss results and better health outcomes. It’s also important to not just focus on the scale, but to celebrate the increased muscle tone and stamina that can come from exercise, along with better health measures like reduced blood pressure, cholesterol and sugar levels. 

The guide below offers science-backed expert advice on various tools and recommendations to lose weight healthily and naturally.

Weight loss supplements  

While no over-the-counter vitamin or supplement will work on its own to cause weight loss, some may support your journey when combined with changes to your eating habits and exercise routine.  

Vitamins, including multivitamins, can help you avoid a nutrient deficiency while dieting. Additionally, vitamin B12 has been linked to weight loss and increased metabolism.  

Supplements aren’t typically approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and research has been mixed on their effectiveness for sustained weight loss, although a few have been shown to have a moderate impact. Some supplements can have serious side effects, especially when taken in larger quantities. It’s always important to speak with your health care provider before trying a weight loss supplement.  

Learn more about vitamins and supplements, including the science behind their role in weight loss.

Best foods for weight loss

As with supplements, no one food or beverage is the magic potion to make you instantly drop pounds. However, when combined with healthy eating patterns and regular exercise, sleep and stress maintenance, some foods can help burn calories.  

Foods that are high in fiber, such as apples and carrots, can help curb your appetite so that you eat fewer calories. And high-protein foods like eggs and nuts take longer to digest, which can leave you feeling more satisfied and less likely to overeat.  

Read more about key foods to help you to lose weight.

Read more about foods that could boost your metabolism.

Read more about foods you can eat without gaining weight.

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Effective diets for weight loss   

Knowing what diet may be the most effective for you can be challenging. Your medical history, food preferences, lifestyle and so many more factors come into play when picking a weight loss plan. That’s why it’s important to look at the pros and cons of the methods used in the diet, as well as potential pitfalls.   

Learn more about popular diets for weight loss, including Dash, MIND and Noom.

Natural home remedies for weight loss

Behavioral modifications can help with weight loss efforts, including tweaks to your daily routine and home life. These “home remedies” are backed by science and can include everything from using smaller plates for your meals to brushing your teeth after eating. Most important is to find techniques that resonate with you and will help you stick with your weight loss plans.

Read more on home remedies for weight loss.

Losing weight in your face

Changes to our faces as we age are inevitable, and weight fluctuations can affect our facial appearance too. Whether it’s weight gain that causes a double chin or wider neck, or rapid weight loss that can increase wrinkles and sagging, body changes often show up in your face first. But you can take steps to maintain a healthy weight in your face.

Read more about losing weight in your face.


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Exercises to lose weight

In addition to helping with weight loss, adding exercise to your life is key to reducing stress and improving your energy, flexibility, stamina and balance, which are all especially important as we age.

The most important part of starting a new workout routine is finding something that you enjoy. Whether it’s the basic cardio activity of walking, the muscle-toning benefits of strength training or a balance booster like tai chi, finding something you will stick with is key to success.

Read more about exercises to lose weight and walking to lose weight.

Get more exercises at AARP's Staying Fit page.

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