Losing weight after the age of 50 is a worthwhile goal and certainly within your ability. However, there are some traps that are easy to fall into and can leave you spinning your wheels. There is nothing worse than putting in the effort and not seeing results. This blog post shines a light on a few things that are easy to overlook and how subtle shifts can yield better results.
Over 50 Weight Loss Mistakes – At-A-Glance
- Mistake #1: Ignoring the Back of the Package. Read the fine print (i.e., ingredients list) for hidden sugars.
- Mistake #2: Looking for Snack Alternatives. As humans, we are programmed to keep eating once we start. Sometimes, none is easier than some.
- Mistake #3: Ignoring Dietary Fat. Eating fat slows digestion, keeping hunger away and making dieting easier.
- Mistake #4: Underestimating Refined Carbs. With age, cells become less sensitive to insulin, making it easier to turn refined carbs into body fat. Reserve treats for special occasions or, better yet, schedule a free day.
- Mistake #5: Eating Too Late at Night. Timing matters! Nighttime eating makes your body a better fat maker.
Weight Loss Mistakes Over 50 [Video]
In this video, you’ll learn…
- Common weight loss misconceptions and shortcuts that don’t work.
- Which nutrients your diet is missing.
- The best time of day to eat for fat loss.
Mistake #1: Ignoring the Back of the Package
The first mistake is ignoring the back of the package. Packaging can make food look healthy when it is not.
If you are familiar with my 0,1,2,3 strategy for weight loss, you know that the “1” stands for one large daily salad.
Having a daily salad provides you with many health and weight loss benefits. However, those benefits will be neutralized with the wrong salad dressing. How do you tell if it is a dressing worth putting on your salad? Turn the bottle over, and look at what’s inside.
Tip # 1: Read the Fine Print (a.k.a. Ingredient’s List)
For instance, below is a bottle of Creamy Poppyseed dressing. If you just go by the front of the package, you’re led to think that it is a healthy choice. After all, poppyseeds are good for you, and you can even see them inside the bottle.
Unfortunately, commercial salad dressings are notorious for containing sugar. The first ingredient in this dressing is high fructose corn syrup, which is one of the many alternative names for sugar. The first ingredient listed is the one that is most prominent in the food, so this “healthy” salad dressing is mostly sugar.
Knowing what to look for on the ingredients list makes it easy to detect foods to avoid. But, some foods require more detective work. This is especially true of snack foods, leading us to our next weight loss mistake, which is looking for snack alternatives.
Mistake # 2: Looking for Snack Alternatives
One of the most common questions I get is, “What can I have for a snack?” As a society, we have been conditioned to snack between meals. When I was growing up, every activity had snack time. And from what I can tell, that trend has not stopped. So, it is natural to search for snack and dessert alternatives when you go on a diet.
Here’s the problem. Sometimes the front and the back of a packaged food can make the food look like an acceptable option for weight loss.
For instance, here is a box of keto peanut butter cups. A keto diet has proven to be effective for fat loss, and peanut butter cups are yummy. So, there is no doubt that this is an intriguing label.
When you turn the box over, you might not know what all of the ingredients are, but there are no signs of added sugar. So, could you get away with eating one of these peanut butter cups? It’s possible, depending on what else you eat for the day. However, despite not having sugar, this snack is sweetened. That sweetness will stimulate your appetite. There are eight cups in this box, and the serving size is one. It will take a lot of willpower to eat just one peanut butter cup per day and put this box back on the shelf.
I published a blog post a few weeks ago that showed six ways that we, as humans, are programmed to overeat.
We have built-in mechanisms that cause us to keep eating once we start. So, a powerful tip when it comes to snacking is that sometimes, none is easier than some.
Tip #2: Sometimes, None is Easier than Some
In other words, fill up at mealtime to avoid snacking between meals. To feel full longer, you need to eat foods that take a long time to digest. This leads to the next common mistake in those of us over the age of 50, namely ignoring dietary fat.
Mistake #3: Ignoring Dietary Fat
I was born in 1967, which was near the start of the low-fat craze. “Eating fat will make you fat” was pounded into our heads, and it made sense because back then, it was all about the calorie count. Gram for gram, fat has more than two times the number of calories as carbohydrates, including sugar.
So the weight-loss formula that made sense on paper was that weight loss should happen when you replace fat with carbs, employ a bit of willpower to control portions, and burn off excess energy through exercise. That was a good thought, but problematic. For one thing, the obesity rate has soared upward since we adopted this low-fat mindset. Also, limiting healthy fats in your diet makes you hungry.
Carbohydrates are quick energy, but they burn up quickly, much like twigs on fire. You get a short burst of energy, but if you want to keep your fire burning, you must continually eat to stoke the fire. If you don’t, your body reminds you to do so by making you crave carbs, and the cycle repeats itself, leaving you with a need to eat every couple of hours. Fats are like the logs on a fire. It takes effort to get them burning, but they burn for a long time, so hunger stays away for a long time, making it easier for you to stick with your diet.
Tip #3 Eating Fat Makes Dieting Easier
Eating a high-fat diet does not need to be scary. Here again, by just adopting the one daily salad rule that I talked about earlier, you can greatly increase the healthy fats in your diet. High-fat salad toppers include nuts and seeds, avocados, olives, hard-boiled eggs, cheese, leftover meat or fish, and healthy oils, like extra virgin olive oil. These high-fat salad toppers add flavor and hunger satisfaction and help your body absorb the fat-soluble vitamins and minerals from the vegetables, improving health.
I am not saying that it is impossible to do well with or enjoy a low-fat diet. For a disciplined person, a low-fat diet filled with high-quality, unprocessed carbohydrates works. However, because carbohydrates encompass such a wide range of foods, adhering to this style of eating requires quite a bit of police work, which brings us to the next weight loss mistake that is easy to make after 50, namely underestimating refined carbs.
Mistake #4: Underestimating Refined Carbs
There is a big difference in how your body handles a bowl of broccoli vs. a cookie, even though they are both classified as carbohydrates. The reason they are handled differently is due to their level of refinement. The broccoli is unrefined, so your digestive system must put in the time and effort to break it down.
The cookie is highly refined, so the work of breaking it down has already been done by the cookie manufacturer. So when you eat it, it goes from your mouth to your bloodstream in the blink of an eye, spiking your blood sugar level.
When we were kids, our bodies handled these types of refined and sugary treats with much more efficiency than they do today. There are many reasons for this. You may have less muscle and be less active than before, so your body is not using energy as quickly.
Those are obvious changes, but a significant reason that is easy to overlook is the natural decline in your body’s sensitivity to insulin.
Insulin is the hormone that brings blood sugar levels back down following a meal or snack. As we age, our cells become less sensitive to insulin, making it difficult for insulin to do its job. As a result, blood sugar and insulin levels remain high, which is an internal state that encourages fat storage and blocks fat loss.
Because insulin resistance increases with age, you’ll make the most weight loss progress when you avoid refined carbs, like the 3 Cs: cookies, cakes, and candies. I acknowledge that can be a hard pill to swallow. However, you don’t have to commit to a lifetime without treats. When we make these all-or-nothing pledges, they backfire because they feel stressed. Instead, reserve treats for special occasions, or better yet, schedule a free day.
Tip #4 Schedule a Free Day
I believe that taking a break is a good idea. However, the trick is to plan your free day so that it is built-in rather than taken on a whim.
For instance, in my weight loss program, I show members how to utilize 40-day short-term goals, with every 41st day being a day without rules. If you want to understand why I use 40-day diet cycles, I touch on it in my free video series.
What you’ll find is that your scheduled free day puts you in control rather than the circumstances around you being in control. It creates a target that you want to hit, and having that clear target gives you the strength to say “no thank you,” even on the most challenging days.
An added bonus is that omitting your daily intake of refined carbs and boosting dietary fats stabilize your blood sugar, so you avoid blood sugar crashes that make you want to eat. When blood sugar and hunger are stable, you feel comfortable avoiding bedtime snacking, which is a great way to boost weight loss over 50.
Mistake #5: Eating Too Late at Night
As the evening approaches, hormonal changes make our bodies less efficient at burning calories. In a study published in 2020, a group of older individuals was fed the same amount of calories on two different occasions.
They ate a large breakfast on the first occasion, followed by lunch and dinner. They shifted their eating schedule to include lunch, dinner, and a large bedtime snack in the second session.
Even though the total daily energy and nutrient intake was equivalent between the sessions, switching the calories from breakfast to bedtime had a significant impact on the way their bodies used the food. The late-night eaters burned the carbohydrates in the meal at the expense of fat breakdown (1).
Tip #5: Timing Matters! Nighttime Eating Makes You A Better Fat Maker
In other words, at night, your body is better at making fat than burning it. And, if the food you feed it is a typical high-carb bedtime snack, you’ll have another consequence that you don’t want, which is increased blood sugar and insulin levels overnight.
At night, insulin resistance increases due to the rise of the sleep hormone, melatonin (2).
So the carbs in that late-night bowl of cereal, ice cream, or chips linger in your system, blocking fat loss as you sleep.
The takeaway is this. You can lose weight over the age of 50. But details matter. Start paying attention to the ingredients list on the back of packaged foods, add healthy fats to your meals so you can limit snacking between meals and at bedtime, and keep your sanity and keep yourself away from everyday treats by scheduling occasional free days without rules.
Thank you for reading and have a wonderful week!
(1) Kelly, Kevin Parsons, et al. “Eating breakfast and avoiding late-evening snacking sustains lipid oxidation.” PLoS biology 18.2 (2020): e3000622.
(2) Peschke, Elmar, Ina Bähr, and Eckhard Mühlbauer. “Melatonin and pancreatic islets: interrelationships between melatonin, insulin and glucagon.” International journal of molecular sciences 14.4 (2013): 6981-7015.