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Effortless Ways to Jumpstart Your Weight Loss Goals After 50, Say Dietitians

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Losing weight can already be a challenging goal, but it gets even harder as you age. Things like your metabolism, hormones, sleep patterns, and eating habits can undergo some major shifts with each year, making it all the more difficult to stick to your health goals.

For those who have been trying to lose weight after 50 and have found themselves feeling really frustrated with it, we’ve got you covered. We talked with a few expert dietitians about weight loss and aging, and they gave us their best tips for losing weight in your 50s.

After, for more healthy eating tips, check out 30 Essential Spring Superfoods for Weight Loss.

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If you’re used to eating muffins, donuts, or other sugar pastries for breakfast, our dietitians warn that you may want to make the switch to something like oatmeal.

“Replacing your morning breakfast with a bowl of oatmeal is a simple way you can help jumpstart your weight loss efforts,” says Trista Best, MPH, RD, LD at Balance One Supplements. “This is especially beneficial if you are eating breakfast pastries or high-fat, sugary breakfasts. Oatmeal is loaded with fiber, which will help keep you feeling full for longer as well as help to prevent glucose spikes. Both of these side effects will help with weight loss by preventing overeating and rapid fat storage.”

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Sugary drinks like soda, fruit juices, and fancy coffee drinks can come with tons of added sugar, which can add up quickly.

“Drinking too much sugar has detrimental effects on your overall health, including developing type 2 diabetes, which leads to serious weight conditions,” says Courtney D’Angelo, MS, RD, author at Go Wellness. “If you eliminate this sugar intake and replace it with water, you’re easily doubling your efforts to reach your new weight loss goals.”

Breakfast bento box high protein with hard boiled eggs fruit nuts cottage cheese cucumber
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Making sure you have plenty of protein is going to be crucial if you want to lose weight after 50, so make sure you stock up on plenty of protein-heavy snacks.

“As we age, our metabolism changes, and our nutrition needs become different,” says Morgyn Clair, MS, RDN, author at Fit Healthy Momma. “Many older people do not get enough protein in their diet, which can lead to muscle loss. Muscle naturally burns more calories throughout the day, meaning that more muscle mass equals faster metabolism overall.”

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While everyone loves a good midnight snack, it’s not always the best when you’re trying to stick to your weight loss goals.

“Studies show time and time again that reducing caloric intake before sleeping can lead to sustained weight loss,” says Clair. “As our metabolism changes with age, this can be even more prominent. Have more balanced meals throughout the day and skip heavy nighttime snacks to help the waistline.”

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Along with getting enough protein, adding plenty of fiber to your diet is important for those wanting to shed a few pounds as they age.

“Research shows that adding 14 grams of fiber daily reduces calorie intake by about 10%, with no calorie-counting required!  Whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds are rich in the fiber you need,” says Elizabeth Ward, MS, RDN, co-author of The Menopause Diet Plan, A Natural Guide to Hormones, Health, and Happiness.

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Experts say that while your nutrition is one of the most important parts of weight loss, exercising on a regular basis can significantly help as well.

“It’s important to begin your focus with the food and drinks you are consuming,” says D’Angelo. “Get that right first, and then you can incorporate daily exercise. There are a number of workouts you can choose from, such as strength training, cardio, HIIT, boxing, etcetera. Or, you can use a fitness app and follow a specific, personalized exercise program designed to help you reach your goals. Take advantage of the technology and have the discipline to stick with your game plan.”

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While this method isn’t for everyone, some dietitians find that it can be a helpful tool for wanting to lose weight.

“Tracking macros is actually easier than it sounds,” says D’Angelo. “The first step is to set a weight loss goal and figure out how much protein, carbs, and fats are needed for you each day to hit your macro goals. There are a bunch of ways to track your macros, such as hiring an RD or macro coach, using an app, or using a simple spreadsheet.”

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If you’re getting bored with plain old water, throw some lemon in there! It is not only delicious, but it also has great health benefits, too.

“Adding lemon to your water means you actually desire to drink more and achieve your unique hydration needs,” says Best. “Lemon water has also been shown to support weight loss by improving insulin resistance and digestion. Lemon water can improve satiety, which leads to consuming fewer calories with snacking and mindless eating. This is one simple way you can support your weight loss efforts and when combined with other lifestyle changes, these benefits can add up quickly.”

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And finally, moving throughout the day, even if it’s for a few minutes during a work break, can help you achieve some of your health goals if you want to lose weight after 50.

“NEAT is Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis, which is the energy you burn doing everything except sleeping, eating, and exercising,” says Ward. “While exercising on a regular basis is recommended, so is sitting less. Every movement burns calories. I suggest getting up every hour and moving around for 5 minutes.”

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This Popular Grocery Item Is Linked to Foodborne Illness, Says New Study

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dried fruit and nuts

If you’re someone who loves eating dried fruit as a snack between meals, grabbing a handful of your favorite seeds or nuts on the go, or throwing granola or cereal on top of a bowl of yogurt, then you’re a fan of what is called low-moisture foods.

While these types of packaged foods are extremely popular and delicious, they’ve unfortunately been known lately to carry harmful pathogens such as Salmonella. In fact, according to The Journal of Food Protection, salmonella is so common among low-moisture food products and can survive for extended periods of time there because of poor sanitation practices, faulty equipment, and lackluster ingredient monitoring.

Because of these Salmonella outbreaks, the Institute for the Advancement of Food and Nutrition Sciences is helping to support multiple research endeavors around this subject in order to find better solutions and practices for preventing these outbreaks in the future.

Here are some of their key findings around preventing Salmonella outbreaks, and for more healthy eating tips, check out 4 Meat Companies with the Worst Food Quality Practices.

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One study cited by IAFNS was published in the International Journal of Food Microbiology in 2020 and dealt with finding new decontamination practices. Researchers looked at Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes (another serious infection found in many foods) on things like dried strawberries and apples, raisins, pistachios, and chocolate. 

The study utilized two new methods of decontamination: one that involved UV radiation, ozone, and peroxide, and another that involved ethanol sanitizer. According to IAFNS, both of these decontamination methods may have a valuable impact on the future of food-borne infections.

Another study supported by IAFNS was also published in the International Journal of Food Microbiology. Instead of dealing with decontamination tactics, this study looked further into the survival temperatures of Listeria monocytogenes on things like raisins and dried strawberries.

What the study found was that storing these items at 23 degrees Celsius (which is about 73 degrees Fahrenheit) helped to inactivate the bacteria. However, at 4 degrees Celsius (or 39 degrees Fahrenheit), the Listeria monocytogenes were able to survive for long periods of time.

And lastly, a 2022 study from Applied and Environmental Microbiology found that many traces of Salmonella on dried fruit specifically were not detectable by cultures, even though they were viable.

So what does all of this mean for us? Unfortunately as of right now, there isn’t much we can do as individuals to limit our exposure unless we specifically avoid low-moisture products. However, these studies and the dedicated research that are continually being done are promising for a safer future when it comes to food born illnesses and infections.

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Healthy diet

8 Eating Habits People with Healthy Cholesterol Swear By

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woman eating oatmeal

Cholesterol is confusing. Do you remember your numbers from your last blood test? Do you know what they say about your heart health? Most people would probably answer “no” to both questions because cholesterol can be difficult to understand. What’s more, your high cholesterol may be inherited rather than primarily due to lifestyle factors.

Whether your unhealthy cholesterol profile is genetically linked or a result of poor diet and exercise habits, you can improve your numbers and your health by improving your diet with or without cholesterol-lowering medications. Just adopt the eating habits that science shows are consistent with people who have healthy cholesterol levels. They are many of the same eating strategies that can positively impact your health in many powerful ways.

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Before we explore those eating habits associated with healthy cholesterol, let’s get a better understanding of what cholesterol is and how it affects our health. Cholesterol is a waxy fat-like substance that rides your bloodstream throughout your body on lipoproteins. It’s fat-like, but not a fat. You can’t burn it off with exercise the way you can fat. (However, exercise plays a key role in affecting the makeup of cholesterol in your bloodstream; on that later.) Your liver makes and regulates cholesterol, which is essential for certain body functions, and you also get it from the foods you eat.

There are two main types of cholesterol-carrying lipoproteins in your body. Low-density lipoprotein or LDL is often referred to as “bad” cholesterol because high levels of it are associated with increased risk for heart disease. High-density lipoprotein or HDL is known as “good” cholesterol because it shuttles LDL cholesterol to the liver where it’s removed from the body.

In recent years, scientists have identified a subtype of LDL that seems to be more dangerous to the cardiovascular system. It’s called small, dense low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (sdLDL-c) and it’s associated with high triglycerides (a blood fat), decreased levels of the good HDL, as well as obesity and metabolic syndrome, which is a cluster of conditions linked to heart disease and diabetes. The trouble with small dense LDL particles is that they are more inclined to attach to the endothelium, the lining of blood vessels, where they can build up into a plaque that can break off and cause a clot that triggers heart attack or stroke. (If you’re over 50, you’ll want to read about the Side Effects of High Cholesterol After 50.

Fortunately, eating habits that promote overall good health and weight loss are the same that may improve your cholesterol profile and lower your risk for cardiovascular disease.

“As a nutritionist, I’ve seen firsthand how a heart-healthy diet that helps reduce LDL cholesterol levels consists of foods rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy proteins and low in added sugar, salt, and saturated fats like butter, and fatty meats,” says registered dietitian nutritionist Lisa Young, PhD, RDN, author of Finally Full, Finally Slim and a member of our medical expert board.

Here are some eating habits common among people who have lowered their cholesterol to healthy levels:

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“I have a family history of high cholesterol, so I am conscious of my diet and have managed to keep my cholesterol at a healthy range without any medications,” says nutritionist Christina Laboni, MhSc, RD.

Her go-to breakfast is steel-cut oats. “Oatmeal contains soluble fiber, a type of fiber that helps lower LDL cholesterol in our blood,” she says. “A lot of people will talk about foods to cut out or avoid with high cholesterol which does have a place, but it’s always good to focus on what you can add to your diet rather than take away. Steel-cut oats are the least processed and take longer to cook, so I often make a big batch that I can reheat throughout the week.”

Eaten daily, three to four grams of soluble fiber has been shown in studies to help lower LDL cholesterol almost 10%.

Oatmeal isn’t the only way to boost your soluble fiber intake. “Breakfast is a perfect way to start the day out right, as you have an opportunity to choose many plant-based options for fiber to help lower LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol and raise HDL ‘good’ cholesterol,” says Amber Ingram, RD, a registered dietitian at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. “Soluble fiber is found in the skin and peels of fruits, vegetables, and legumes.”

Say no to drinking soda stop drinking sugar
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“It is becoming more clear that genetics play a larger role in how the body processes cholesterol but there are still some dietary habits that can lead to high cholesterol and drinking a lot of sugary beverages is one of them,” says Trista Best, RD, a registered dietitian at Balance One Supplements and a professor of nutrition.

Making a habit of avoiding sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) like soda, juice cocktails, sugary alcoholic cocktails, and sweet teas and coffees may help your cholesterol levels. Best points to a 12-year study in the Journal of the American Heart Association involving 6,000 participants that found that increased SSB consumption was associated with high cholesterol, including adverse changes in the good HDL cholesterol and triglyceride concentrations.

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By eating the standard American diet, the average American falls short of the recommended 21 to 25 grams of dietary fiber daily for women and 30 to 38 grams for men grams. And getting enough of the soluble kind is especially difficult. If you’re finding it hard to get enough fiber, one option is to take a fiber supplement like psyllium husks.

“Similar to oatmeal and beans, psyllium husk is a great source of soluble fiber and soluble fiber helps lower cholesterol by binding to cholesterol in the gut so instead of being reabsorbed into the body it is eliminated during bowel movements,” says registered dietitian Veronica Rouse, RD, who specializes in lowering cholesterol with food in her practice and in her blog The Heart Dietitian.

You can mix psyllium husk powder in juice or other beverages. It forms a thick gel in the gut and keeps you feeling full. It’s also available in bars and capsules. One study in a 2018 issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition analyzed 28 clinical trials and found that people who took 10 grams of psyllium husk daily for three weeks significantly lowered their LDL cholesterol (by 13 mg/dL).

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Fats are an essential part of a healthy diet, but a certain fat called a trans-fatty acid is terrible for your cholesterol. Trans-fatty acids found in packaged and highly-processed foods liked cookies, crackers, fried foods, pastries, and other baked goods designed for a long shelf life raise total and LDL cholesterol levels and lower the good HDL, says Alyssa Burnison, RD, LN, a registered dietitian with Profile Plan.

Walnuts, by contrast, are loaded with a heart-healthy plant-based version of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to lower total cholesterol and triglycerides, she says. They make a great snack for crushing hunger pangs, she says. Just be careful because nuts are calorically dense.

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People who have lower cholesterol tend to “enjoy more plant-based proteins like beans, legumes, and tofu instead of red meat, which is high in saturated fats,” says Young.

Saturated fat tends to raise LDL cholesterol levels, according to the Mayo Clinic.

“That doesn’t mean you need to ban fats, but it’s best to enjoy unsaturated fats like olive oil and avocado instead of butter and cheese,” she says.

Steve Theunissen, RDN, a veteran certified personal trainer and writer for SmartFitnessResults.com suggests limiting fatty meats, deli meats, cream, ice cream, coconut oil, palm oil, and commercially baked products, and deep-fried takeaway foods, which contain saturated fats and trans fats.

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Fatty fish like salmon, sardines, tuna, herring, and bluefish, contain high amounts of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to reduce triglycerides, a blood fat that like cholesterol figures into the heart disease risk equation. While omega-3s don’t reduce LDL cholesterol levels, some studies suggest “they can help increase our HDL good cholesterol,” says Laboni.

Concerned about her own propensity toward high cholesterol, Laboni says she eats fatty fish at least twice a week and encourages her clients to do the same.

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Another excellent way to get more heart-healthy fat in your diet is flaxseed, which is high in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a plant-based omega 3. Flaxseed is also a good source of soluble fiber. But there’s another component of flaxseed that seems to be particularly effective on cholesterol: lignans, a polyphenol found in plants that contain phytoestrogens.

A small study involving 37 men and women in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition tested the effects of two flaxseed bars with similar ALA content but two different amounts of lignans. The six-week-long, randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled study found that it was the high lignan bars that triggered the most significant change, a 12% reduction in total cholesterol and 25% drop in LDL. Worth noting is the fact that lignans have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and have been linked to reduced breast cancer mortality.

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Plant sterols and stanol esters reduce blood cholesterol levels by blocking cholesterol absorption in the digestive system. They are natural compounds found in plant cell membranes, so you’ll get them inside you by eating fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately, you don’t get nearly enough to impact cholesterol through eating fruits and vegetables, so food manufacturers have fortified certain foods like orange juice and butter-like spreads with them.

If you don’t want to take cholesterol-lowering prescription medicines like statins, consider trying a product with plant stanols like Benecol spread. An American Heart Association journal study found that supplementing the diet of participants with a plant stanol ester spread for six months reduced LDL cholesterol and, in particular, the ability of LDL droplets to accumulate on artery walls. For more information on other over-the-counter heart protection, read Best Supplements for High Cholesterol, According to Nutritionists.

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