Weight loss after 50 isn't as difficult as it seems when you have the right diet and exercise plans in place. Popular fad diets often work well short term but if you’re seeking a meal plan you can maintain for life, give the Fit Mother Project a try!
It uses the same healthy eating principals as the Fit Father Project, which has helped thousands of busy dads over 40 shed unwanted pounds and keep the weight off indefinitely. Knowing more about the best diet plan for women over 50 will steer you in the right direction!
Weight Loss in Women vs. Men Over 50
Weight loss in women over 50 is similar to weight loss in younger women and men but with fewer calories. As men and women age their metabolisms tend to slow down, requiring fewer calories to sustain everyday functions.
While men over 50 often require about 1,500-1,800 calories daily for weight loss, women in the same age category may need just 1,200-1,500 calories daily to drop about 1-2 pounds per week.
Your individual calorie needs may be more or less than this depending on your size, metabolism, and activity level.
When you’ve reached your goal weight, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020 estimate the following weight maintenance calorie needs for various age and physical activity categories:
- Men ages 19-40: 2,400-2,600 calories
- Men ages 40-60: 2,200 calories
- Men over 60: 2,000 calories
- Women ages 19-40: 1,800-2,000 calories
- Woman ages 40-60: 1,600-1,800 calories
- Women over 60: 1,600 calories
Moderate Active Adults
- Men ages 19-40: 2,600-2,800 calories
- Men ages 40-60: 2,400-2,600 calories
- Men over 60: 2,200-2,400 calories
- Women ages 19-40: 2,000-2,200 calories
- Woman ages 40-60: 1,800-2,000 calories
- Women over 60: 1,800 calories
- Men ages 19-40: 2,800-3,000 calories
- Men ages 40-60: 2,600-2,800 calories
- Men over 60: 2,400-2,600 calories
- Women ages 19-40: 2,200-2,400 calories
- Woman ages 40-60: 2,200 calories
- Women over 60: 2,000 calories
Some fad weight loss diets work well short term but aren't sustainable for a life time.
That’s because these diets lack sufficient essential nutrients needed to maintain high energy levels, prevent deficiencies, and stay healthy long term.
As you age you might already be at risk of low bone density, weight gain, menopause symptoms, and fatigue so eating a well-balanced diet is especially important to maintain optimal health.
Popular Weight Loss Diets
You can use some of the concepts from popular weight loss diets when following the best diet plan for women over 50, but use caution when severely restricting food groups or calories. Below is a list of some common weight loss diets the pros and cons associated with them.
#1 Raw Food Diet
The raw food diet is a mostly plant-based diet that focuses on eating raw, unprocessed whole foods. Your raw food diet plan might contain 75-85% raw items, for example.
Foods you’ll eat include raw fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, soaked or sprouted grains and legumes, dried fruit, dried meats, plant milk, raw nut butters, cold-pressed plant oils, and fermented foods like kimchi and sauerkraut.
You’ll avoid processed foods, added sugars, cooked foods as much as possible, roasted nuts or seeds, refined oils, salt, pasteurized dairy foods and juices, coffee, tea, and alcohol.
The purpose of the raw food diet is to preserve as many nutrients as possible in raw foods, as cooking can reduce the vitamin, mineral, enzyme, and other nutritional content of your favorite foods.
The benefits of a raw food diet are you’ll get plenty of nutrition from whole, fiber-rich foods and eliminate junk foods associated with weight gain. You’ll probably lose weight when following a raw food diet plan.
But eating a diet consisting of mainly raw foods is difficult for many people to maintain long term.
#2 Paleo Diet
The paleo diet is like the raw food diet but you can eat cooked foods when you want to. It focuses on foods that early humans, or cavemen, probably ate.
When following a paleo diet you’ll avoid processed foods and replace them with fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, lean meats, fish, and oils.
The paleo diet does not include grains, legumes, potatoes, dairy foods, processed foods, refined sugar, or salt.
As with the raw food diet you’ll probably lose weight when following a paleo diet because it’s a whole food diet free from processed foods and other junk food. However it’s very restrictive, difficult to follow long term for many people, and can put you at risk of nutrient deficiencies if you don't carefully plan meals.
#3 Very Low-Calorie Diets
Very low-calorie diets, or VLCDs, contain 800 calories or less daily and often include liquid nutrition shakes as meal replacements. You might be able to drop up to 3-5 pounds per week when restricting your calories this much.
However it’s not feasible to maintain VLCDs long term as you’ll be at risk of nutrient deficiencies, hair loss, fatigue, and gallstones during rapid weight loss.
Furthermore, VLCDs don’t seem to be more effective for weight loss than low-calorie diets (LCDs), especially long term. Studies show that subjects following VLCDs containing 500 calories daily or LCDs providing1,250 calories per day experienced the same amount of weight loss after a 9-month follow up.
VLCDs are generally only safe under medical supervision. If you’d like to use a VLCD eating plan on your own, consume 800 calories once or twice a week instead of every day.
#4 Well-Balanced Low-Calorie Diets
The best weight loss diet plan for women over 50 is a well-balanced, low-calorie menu containing 1,200 to 1,500 calories per day (depending on your physical activity level). Well-balanced means eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, chicken, fish, seafood, tofu, seitan, eggs, nuts, dairy foods or plant milks, oils, and other healthy fats.
Try filling half of each plate with non-starchy vegetables, one fourth of each plate with protein foods (such as chicken, fish, eggs, or tofu), and one fourth of your plate with nutritious carbohydrates (whole grains, sweet potatoes, corn, peas, other legumes, or fruit).
Consume dairy foods or plant milk 2-3 times daily and add oils or other healthy fats to each meal or snack.
#5 Low-Carb and Ketogenic Diets
Lowering your carbohydrate intake enhances weight and fat loss, according to numerous studies. But eating too few carbs can lead to fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and even bad breath.
Lowering carbohydrate-rich refined foods, such as sweets, sugary drinks, white bread, and white rice, is an excellent weight loss strategy for women over 50.
To avoid the unpleasant side effects of very low-carb diets, including ketogenic diets that contain just 5% of your total calories from carbs, eat at least the carbohydrates recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of 130 grams daily for adult women. Choose fiber-rich carbs like whole grains, legumes, starchy vegetables, and fruits.
#6 Low-Fat Diets
Studies show that low-fat diets are as effective as low-carb diets for weight and fat loss. But because your body requires dietary fat to feel full, function properly, and maximize heart and brain health, avoid weight loss diets that are very low in fat.
The Institute of Medicine recommends adults get 20-35% of their daily calories from dietary fat. Fat provides 9 calories per gram. Therefore if you’re following a 1,200-calorie meal plan for weight loss, aim to consume 26-47 grams of fat daily and avoid dropping below 26 grams per day. Foods rich in healthy fats include oils, avocados, nuts, seeds, nut butters, olives, fatty fish, and fish oil.
#6 Vegetarian and Vegan Diets
Vegetarian diets lack meat, poultry, fish, and seafood. Some vegetarians eat eggs or dairy foods while vegan dieters eliminate animal foods entirely. Studies show that vegetarian diets, especially vegan diets, can significantly boost weight loss in overweight adults.
Eliminating meat is a simple weight loss strategy for women over 50 and a method for disease prevention, as red and processed meats are associated with certain types of cancer.
#7 Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting means you’ll fast, or not eat, during certain times of the day. Various forms of intermittent fasting include:
- Alternate-day fasting: don't eat for an entire day once or twice weekly (on non-consecutive days)
- Eat only during an 8-hour window each day
- Follow VLCDs (containing about 500-600 calories daily) on two non-consecutive days each week and eat normally the remaining five days
- Eat just fruits and vegetables throughout the day except for one large meal in the evening
The rationale behind intermittent fasting is by not eating during specified time periods, you’ll reduce overall calorie intake and increase your chance of successful weight loss.
Studies show that intermittent fasting and intermittent calorie restriction are indeed effective strategies for many overweight adults.
Avoid drastic fasting measures so you can steer clear of side effects like fatigue, overindulging after fasts, hair loss, nutrient deficiencies, and difficulty concentrating. You don't have to skip meals for an entire day to reap the numerous benefits of fasting. Eat during an 8-hour window or try alternate day VLCDs instead.
#8 The Fit Mother Project 30X (FM30X)
The Fit Mother Project 30X (FM30X) is weight loss program for busy moms of all ages. It’s designed after the popular Fit Father Project 30X (FF30X) for busy dads over 40, which has helped thousands of fathers achieve and maintain healthy weights for life.
The benefits of choosing FM30X for weight loss is it:
- Is a well-balanced, low-calorie diet plan designed to maximize energy
- Is effective for women of all ages, including women over 50
- Contains motivational support from health experts
- Includes fat-burning workouts
- Provides healthy weight loss recipes
- Includes weekly newsletters
- Offers private fit mom Facebook group access for extra moral support
You can maintain the Fit Mother Project healthy eating plans indefinitely, even after you’ve reached your goal weight! FM30X is a lifestyle, not a fad diet.
Other Weight Loss Tips and Tricks
In addition to eating right and following FM30X, also known as the best diet plan for women over 50, try the following tips and tricks to enhance weight loss results:
#1 Have Your Hormones Checked
As women age estrogen, progesterone, and thyroid hormones can fluctuate and unbalanced hormones may hinder weight loss. Have your doctor monitor hormones regularly to boost your chance of successful weight loss.
#2 Sleep Enough
Chronic sleep deprivation can boost your appetite, making weight loss difficult. Make sure you’re sleeping between 7-9 hours each night during weight loss. Take a natural sleeping supplement, such as melatonin, or use a white noise machine if you’re a light sleeper. Avoid going to bed hungry or very full.
#3 Cut Alcohol and Smoking
Eliminating alcohol or cutting back on it is a simple way to nix calories for weight loss over 50, as you might be consuming up to 500 calories or more from alcoholic drinks.
Smoking is another habit to steer clear of, as it can hinder your ability to get a good night’s sleep and drastically increase your risk of cancer.
#4 Control Stress
Reduce chronic stress in your life to control cortisol, a hormone that increases appetite and the desire for high-fat, sugary comfort foods. To help yourself relax, avoid overbooking your schedule, take vacations, and try yoga, meditation, tai chi, or regular massages.
#5 Track Food Intake
Tracking calories and food intake is an excellent way to eat less. Studies show that keeping a daily food journal is associated with greater weight loss, especially long term, compared with non-consistent food tracking. Write down what you eat or use a calorie counting app like MyFitnessPal.
#6 Set Goals
Make the commitment to lose weight and improve your health before you begin a weight loss program. Prioritize looking and feeling great over sweets, fried food, and other junk foods.
Set food, exercise, and water intake goals. Aim to drink at least 12 cups of water daily and be physically active at least 30 minutes each day. Set and achieve even small goals to give you a feeling of accomplishment, and motivate you when times get tough. Reward yourself for achieving your goals!
#7 Weigh Yourself Daily
Regular weigh-ins keep you accountable for what you’re eating and how active you are. In fact, studies show that daily weigh-ins are more effective than weighing yourself weekly or less often. Weekly weight loss goals should be 1-2 pounds per week to boost your chance of long term success.
Get started with FM30X by signing up for the FREE Fit Mom Jumpstart Kit today! You'll receive free diet and exercise plans, free coaching support from health experts, and will continue on the road toward a fitter, happier, healthier life! What do you have to lose?
Writer, The Fit Mother Project
A 15-year freelance writing veteran, Erin is registered dietitian and health educator who is passionate about health, fitness and disease prevention. Her published work appears on hundreds of health and fitness websites, and she’s working on publishing her first book! Erin is a wife and mom of two beautiful children.