Does it feel like just yesterday when you were in your prime, energetic, and fit? Or does it seem like a lifetime ago? Whenever they occur, unwanted changes like weight gain and loss of fitness can be deeply distressing, but when you’re over 50, losing weight and recapturing physical health can seem elusive.
Carrying around extra pounds is about a lot more than just weight. It can also mean low energy, low motivation, low mood. It can increase your risk for serious health conditions like type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and certain cancers. It can disrupt your sleep and cause aches and pains that further discourage you from making positive change. But by seeking the guidance of a medical professional, you can uncover the therapies and lifestyle choices that will help your body adapt and renew. For men, that means evaluating not only your diet and exercise habits and identifying any health problems that could be preventing you from losing weight, but also examining the role testosterone may be playing in your physical wellness—particularly as you age.
Weight loss for men over 50 certainly can be more challenging than it was earlier in life, but that doesn’t mean it is unreachable. It’s important to tap into what your body needs now, how it may be out of balance, and the ways you can move toward greater health and fitness. With the right support, you can discover what it means to be in your prime now.
Why Is It Harder to Lose Weight After 50?
Your body is always doing the best it can to prepare you for wellness and vitality on any given day. But it’s not always at its most capable. Illness, injury, and exhaustion can cause significant setbacks, and the natural process of aging presents new challenges to physical wellness. As the years pass, you can’t expect the body to adapt as quickly and smoothly as it used to—and if you don’t adjust your approach to life and health as you age, you may end up working against your body.
It is undeniable that diet and exercise often play a significant role in the weight gain many men experience as they age. After all, mid-life is often a time of diminished physical activity and less than ideal foods due to long work hours, family commitments, high stress, and poor sleep. But weight gain also results from the normal physiological changes—particularly hormonal changes—that come with age. But if you don’t give your body the support it needs to handle these changes, weight loss can seem like an impossible task.
The Impact of Hormones on Weight
Your hormones play a vital role in how the body operates and responds to challenges on a daily basis. But hormone levels do not remain consistent throughout your life. As with many other aspects of health, the endocrine system changes with age. Over time, your organs and tissues begin to produce lower levels of certain critical hormones—gradually or abruptly—while increasing others. Your hormone receptors may become less sensitive, compromising your hormones’ critical messages and interfering with your body’s wellness potential. Your body may also become less adept at metabolizing hormones.
For men, the natural decrease in testosterone that comes with age can be particularly disruptive. Because testosterone helps to support muscle mass, bone density, fat burning, and overall energy, while falling testosterone levels can lead to weight gain and loss of muscle tone. Even as a normal part of aging, this drop in testosterone can cause significant challenges to weight loss for men over 50, and for men with abnormally low levels of testosterone, the effect can be even more profound.
Along with testosterone, other hormones that can contribute to excess body weight include:
- Cortisol: When stress heightens cortisol levels, you tend to crave calorie-dense comfort foods and your body may put on pounds as a protective mechanism.
- Leptin: As a hormone that helps you understand when you’re full, leptin can play a big role in your weight. Leptin resistance can lead to inadvertent overeating and unexpected weight gain.
- Thyroid hormones: Hormones produced by the thyroid help fuel your metabolism and your energy. As such, abnormally low thyroid hormone levels—known as hypothyroidism—can impede your ability to lose weight. In fact, hypothyroidism is typically one of the first health conditions suspected when patients report significant weight gain or difficulty losing weight.
- Insulin: Insulin is necessary to metabolize carbohydrates, but when insulin levels are too high, you can experience a cascade of distressing symptoms, including weight gain.
- Estrogen: Although low estrogen in men presents a number of health risks, excess estrogen can disrupt your body’s ability to regulate fat retention and storage, leading to weight gain and difficulties taking off unwanted pounds.
While certain changes in our aging bodies may be inevitable, the distressing symptoms don’t have to be. Identifying hormone imbalances and taking steps to return your body to a healthy internal state can help you get back on track.
Real Weight Loss Tips for Men over 50
A high body mass index (BMI) can put significant stress on our organs and systems, which is why unhealthy body weight is associated with a wide range of health problems including cardiovascular disease, hypertension, arthritis, cancer, insulin resistance and diabetes, and overall mortality. And, of course, your daily quality of life will likely feel the impact long before serious health problems emerge—from your energy to your self-image. Losing weight, on the other hand, can help you prevent or reduce the impact of these conditions while also allowing you to experience better self-esteem and improved quality of life.
But with all the physiological challenges to weight loss over 50, what is the best way to shed unwanted pounds?
Build On the Advice of an Expert
To begin your weight loss journey, consult with a practitioner who specializes in integrative medicine and hormone health and understands the changes that come with age. They can take into account any pertinent medical conditions and hormonal phenomena that may be resulting from or contributing to unwanted body weight. With a complete picture of your health and symptoms, they can design a personalized treatment plan and help you make positive lifestyle changes that renew your body’s ability to sustain a healthy body weight.
Try Hormone Replacement Therapy
If hormone levels are playing a role in your weight gain or difficulty taking it off, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) could be an ideal solution. HRT compensates for abnormally low hormone levels to bring your body back into balance and optimize your physiological functionality. For men with low testosterone, researchers have found that testosterone replacement therapy can support significant weight loss and reduced waist circumference and BMI over the long term. For those with hypothyroidism, hormone therapy can minimize or even eliminate symptoms and help your body maintain a healthy metabolism.
Hormone tests administered by your health care practitioner can determine how your levels may be working for or against your health. And treatment options—such as pellet therapy, patches, creams, gels, and pills—could become a nearly effortless part of your self-care routine.
Prioritize Physical Activity
While physical activity is vital for health at any stage of life, it is particularly important for aging adults to get regular exercise—not just to maintain a healthy body weight, but to improve bone density and muscle quality overall. The benefits of physical activity can also vastly enhance mobility, balance, energy, and overall physical performance.
To maximize the impact of exercise, it’s important to develop a plan that works for you. Your health care practitioner can help you create a personalized fitness strategy with a balance of aerobic, flexibility, balance, resistance, and weight-bearing exercises that is ideal for your body. For men with low testosterone, research shows that the benefits of exercise—including muscle mass and strength—can be further improved by testosterone replacement therapy.
Support Your Health with Adequate Rest and Stress Relief
Inadequate sleep and high stress can affect more than just your energy and alertness—it can negatively affect your hormone levels, including leptin, cortisol, and testosterone. These imbalances can lead to additional stress, overeating, slowed metabolism, and low motivation. Developing healthy sleep patterns and finding ways to reduce and cope with stress are therefore instrumental in helping you improve your overall wellness and manage your weight. Your health care practitioner can help you find strategies that work for you. They can also determine whether any hormonal imbalance may be impeding your ability to attain high-quality sleep or cope with stress.
A Fresh Approach to Weight Loss for Men Over 50
If you have entered mid-life and are unable to lose unwanted weight, it may be time to view your health and your weight in a new way. Your lifestyle, goals, and outlook aren’t the same as they were in your younger days and your approach to weight loss shouldn’t be either. With the help of an expert hormone practitioner, you can look at your weight and your health with fresh eyes and learn how to support your body at this new stage of life.
Get in tune with your body and make meaningful changes that support greater wellbeing—now and in the future.
BodyLogicMD is a network of highly trained hormone specialists who are experts in low testosterone, thyroid disorders, and other hormone imbalances. The practitioners in the BodyLogicMD network will work with you to identify the root cause of your weight issues and determine the best course of action to enhance your health and overall quality of life. To get started, contact a local practitioner to schedule your first appointment, or take the BodyLogicMD Hormone Balance Quiz to learn more about how hormones may be impacting your daily life.
Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. All content on this website is for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent diseases.
Charlotte is a patient care coordinator specializing in bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. She is committed to helping patients who struggle with the symptoms of hormonal change and imbalance explore their treatment options and develop effective strategies to optimize wellness.