Losing Weight After 60
Maintaining a healthy weight becomes increasingly important as you age, but losing weight after 60 can be difficult. Changes to your body and metabolism combined with other factors make weight loss no small feat. But there are still plenty of steps you can take to make it happen, and diet recalibrations and lifestyle changes may be the key.
What Makes Weight Loss After 60 Hard?
Losing weight in your 60s and beyond can be a serious challenge. Your body simply doesn’t function the same way it did decades ago. Weight loss, as a result, is far from effortless.
Factors that contribute to difficulty losing weight include physical differences from older age and common situational and lifestyle changes that occur in retirement.
Hormones and Metabolism
While it’s often believed that your metabolism steadily declines throughout your life, this may not be the case. Scientists have discovered that the metabolism remains stable for most of your adult life before dropping off in your 60s.
This makes weight loss a larger feat. A slower metabolism means that your body can take significantly longer to digest and process the food you eat. So, a meal plan that kept you at a certain weight 10 years ago may now actually cause you to gain weight.
It’s a frustrating reality for seniors. Hormones may slow down as well, which only exacerbates the issue and can make weight loss that much more difficult.
These areas can also be affected by medication, which is a heightened concern for seniors since they may be more likely to be taking multiple medications.
According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, some drugs for diabetes, blood pressure or antidepressants may cause weight gain by affecting your metabolism or stimulating your appetite.
Menopause and Perimenopause
For women, perimenopause and menopause create added complications for weight loss. In the years leading to menopause, many women experience a slowed metabolism.
This obviously makes weight loss more difficult, but can even cause you to gain weight — even if you’re not overeating or under-exercising.
With time, your body simply burns fewer calories than before, making losing weight much more of a challenge than it was several years earlier.
A situational factor that can make losing weight difficult post-retirement is the free time you’ll now have on your hands. Even retirees with many hobbies simply have a lot more time to themselves than they did when they were in the workforce and spending hours at a job every day.
More free time means your lifestyle may become sedentary. You may not realize how much passive physical activity you can get just from moving around throughout the day during your pre-retirement routine.
Fewer activities and daily responsibilities can also quickly lead to boredom. Eating when you’re bored is a very common occurrence and can quickly up your daily calorie intake.
Spending more time at home may also tempt you to grab snacks and eat food more often throughout each day, leading you to consume more than before.
And on the flip side, more free time for some seniors may mean more time for socializing. As your social life becomes a bigger part of your day-to-day schedule, you may find yourself eating or drinking out at restaurants or with friends more and increasing your calorie intake.
Thyroid and Insulin
Another major factor that makes weight loss more difficult in your 60s is the simple fact that additional health issues typically develop as you age.
The older you get, the more likely you are to develop health conditions that can negatively affect your diet or make it harder for you to keep off weight.
Common health conditions — like diabetes — can lead to thyroid and insulin issues, both of which can make it more difficult to regulate your weight. If you’re dealing with any health conditions, it may require a lot more effort to lose weight than it would for someone who is relatively healthy.
5 Tips To Lose Weight After 60
Despite the many factors that combine to make weight loss more difficult as you age, there are still plenty of steps you can take to aid in weight loss efforts.
Some are as simple as eating better and working out more, but there are situational factors that you can work on as well to make weight loss easier.
It may not be as easy as it was a decade ago, but losing weight and living a healthier life is still very much an attainable goal for older adults.
Exercise is a continuously effective way to lose weight. Your body may not burn calories as easily as it once did, but you can make up for this by increasing how much you work out to cut back on the calories your body stores.
You also don’t have to worry about taking up strenuous workouts or pushing your body too far. According to the National Institute of Health, seniors can live a healthy lifestyle with just 150 minutes of physical activity each week.
It also makes sense to focus on senior-specific exercising. Both swimming and biking can be fun and effective ways to burn calories. Even power walking can be a viable path to keeping off weight.
As a bonus, regular exercise can help to stave off some of the most common health conditions that affect older adults. You can help to reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, cancer, dementia and other chronic conditions by staying active.
Eat Smaller Meals More Often
A tried and true method of losing weight is consuming fewer calories. You may have to adjust your expectations of what a healthy meal plan looks like after 60 and get used to the idea that your body simply does not need as much food as it did when you were younger.
One strategy for eating less food but avoiding feeling hungry or deprived is to mix up how and when you eat. Think about switching to eating several small meals throughout the day, instead of a large lunch and dinner, for example.
This can keep your body feeling satisfied and full all day while still cutting back on how many calories you’re consuming.
Staying hydrated and drinking plenty of water can play a bigger role than you might think in losing weight.
Johns Hopkins research finds that drinking water and staying hydrated can actually stimulate your metabolism, helping you to burn more calories and lose weight more easily.
Drinking water regularly and with meals can also help trick your body into feeling full by taking up some of the space that food might otherwise. Our brains can easily misperceive a feeling of thirst or dehydration as hunger.
Keeping hydrated can help you not to feel hungry as often as you would otherwise.
Cut Carbs and Extra Sugars
There’s a lot more that goes into weight loss than just counting calories. You also need to eat nutritious food that is better for you.
When you get older, your body needs fewer calories but more nutrients. This makes junk foods that are high in sugar and sodium some of the worst things you can eat.
Empty calories that pack a big hit but provide no nutrients make weight loss incredibly difficult. Limiting your sugar and carbs and sticking with healthier foods like lean meats, fruits, vegetables and whole grains can have a big impact on your weight loss efforts.
It’s also important to remember to check with your doctor when making any major changes to your diet. Doing so can help to avoid any unintended consequences or misunderstandings of where you are getting your nutrients.
Manage Stress and Sleep Schedule
There are some lifestyle factors that can hurt your ability to lose weight as well. Stress is a leading factor.
Not only can stress on its own cause weight gain, but how you deal with stress can play a role as well. Stress eating is a genuine issue that can lead to quick weight gain.
Sleeping well is also important and typically goes hand-in-hand with stress. Regularly getting a good night’s sleep not only promotes weight loss but keeps you more healthy overall.
If you are experiencing stress or sleeping issues, look into steps you can take to alleviate what is causing those issues in your life. Your doctor can help you identify changes that suit your health needs.
The Bottom Line
Losing weight unquestionably becomes more difficult as you age, but it’s far from an impossible task. Understanding what leads to weight gain in your 60s and beyond — things like menopause, slowed metabolism, increased free time and chronic health issues — can help you pinpoint the factors that are holding you back.
But while weight loss is more difficult with age, it is far from impossible. There are many steps you can take to counteract the issues you face as you age. Your metabolism may have slowed, but you can make up for this by exercising more and consuming fewer calories.
Focusing on healthier foods makes a tremendous difference as well. Combine that with taking care of situational factors you face, like stress or an unhealthy sleep schedule, and getting to a healthy weight after 60 becomes more than attainable.