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Studies show that changes in hormone levels cause women to typically gain 1 to 1.5 pounds  every year throughout their 50s and 60s. As a result, even those who never struggled with weight management may find themselves concerned about issues like belly fat as they age. To compound the problem, metabolism rates plummet and major lifestyle changes like retirement can affect your weight.

Biological and lifestyle factors can definitely make losing weight after 40, 50 or 60 difficult, and you may find that the best weight loss diet for women that you relied on in the past no longer works. That doesn’t mean you should give up. With the right weight loss plan for your age group, you can still achieve a healthy weight and keep off excess pounds for good.

Weight loss for women over 40

Effective exercise and diet plans for women to lose weight after 40 factor in the hormonal changes that take place during perimenopause. Most women enter into this menopause transition by their mid-40s; however, you may start to experience symptoms earlier. Typically, perimenopause lasts for 8 to 10 years and ends when menstrual periods stop.

When you enter into perimenopause, estrogen production in your ovaries slows. This then leads to an imbalance with the other major female sex hormone, progesterone and changes in:

  • Menstruation: During perimenopause your periods may become irregular or you may notice your flow is heavier or lighter than before. Usually, these changes are the earliest symptoms of perimenopause.
  • Body composition: Research indicates that body composition begins to shift during perimenopause. The amount of belly fat in women begins to increase while lean muscle mass decreases. At this stage in life, the gains and losses often cancel each other out. As a result, even though they may find that they suddenly need to get rid of belly fat, women may not notice major changes in the numbers displayed on their scales.
  • Mood: Many women suffer from mood swings and irritability in their 40s. Depression is also common and can lead to changes in appetite. Some women eat more, making it important to consider your emotional state when losing weight with a perimenopause plan.

Calorie intake recommendations

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that women in their 40s consume 1,800 to 2,200 calories per day, the same amount suggested for those in their 30s. But due to hormonal changes, you may find that you gain weight even if you continue to consume the same number of calories that you did 10 years ago. Women focused on losing weight in perimenopause may need to adjust their calorie intake downwards toward the lower end of the scale or even below to see results.

Exercise recommendations

Women over 40 should strive for 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise every week and to do resistance strength-training workouts two to three days per week to maintain bone and muscle mass during perimenopause.

Key weight loss tips

For the best weight loss for women over 40, follow these tips:

  1. Talk to your doctor about whether hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is right for you. Research shows that hormone replacement therapy may reduce the risk of gains in lower belly fat in women. Because HRT is not ideal for everyone, the best weight loss programs for women over 40 are supervised by doctors who can determine if the therapy is a suitable part of the plans.
  2. Focus on food quality not just calorie intake. During perimenopause, your body benefits from foods rich in calcium like milk and nuts as well as iron-rich foods like lean meats, eggs and whole grain cereals. Eating nutrient-rich foods may mean consuming more calories, but you’ll reap more health benefits than you would with processed low-calorie alternatives.
  3. Care for your mind as well as your body. Emotional changes during perimenopause can get in the way of even the diet plans for women to lose weight. Look for support from a mental health professional or primary care physician who can help you set goals and develop strategies to avoid emotional eating and stick to your weight loss plan.

Weight loss for women over 50

Menopause is the period that begins with your last menstrual period and ends 12 months later. Many women develop symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats during this stage of life, and they may persist for years after menopause. Understanding the changes taking place in your body is essential to losing weight in menopause.

When you reach menopause, your ovaries consistently produce estrogen at a lower rate. This stops the body from ovulating and leads to the following changes:

  • Body composition: Fat accumulation and  muscle loss accelerate during menopause. As a result, excess menopause belly fat is a very common problem for women.
  • Metabolism: One of the challenges of losing belly fat for women during menopause is a decrease in metabolism rates. Reductions in muscle mass often slow down the speed at which your body burns calories, meaning your body must work harder to lose menopause belly fat than it once did to metabolize stored fat.
  • Mood: The mood changes that began during perimenopause often worsen once your menstrual periods stop. Many women experience sleep disturbances, which lead to fatigue on top of symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Calorie intake recommendations

Although the USDA calorie intake recommendations for women over 50 are the same as they are for those in their 40s, many women find that a greater calorie deficit is necessary to achieve menopause weight loss. In fact, you may find that you need to consume roughly 200 calories less per day just to maintain your weight during menopause.

Exercise recommendations

Like women in their 40s, those 50 and over benefit from 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise and two to three days of strength training per week. However, once you reach 50, you need to be more careful about the types of exercise that you engage in as changes in your body may affect your balance and flexibility. Experts suggest that three of the great exercises to lose belly fat after 50 include walking, abdominal core exercises,  and yoga.

Key weight loss tips 

Follow these tips for losing weight after 50:

  1. Make every calorie count. Because you will likely have to cut down on calories significantly to make up for a slower metabolism, eliminating processed foods and increasing your intake of whole grains, lean proteins, fruits and vegetables is essential. These types of foods are rich in vitamins and nutrients, making them preferable to processed foods that are primarily empty calories.
  2. Cut back on alcohol. Not only will skipping wine, beer and spirits save you calories, but it may also ease some symptoms of menopause, such as sleep disturbances and hot flashes.
  3. Maintain your support network. Sticking to a diet plan to lose hormonal belly fat and achieve a healthy weight can be a challenge, especially with the emotional symptoms of menopause. Reach out to family and friends and discuss your mental health with your primary care physician.

Losing weight after 60

After menopause, estrogen levels stabilize at a lower rate and the symptoms of the transition gradually fade. As your body adapts to your new hormonal makeup, the following changes take place:

  • Body composition: The lower belly fat women gain during menopause usually remains present after the change of life, while bone density and muscle mass losses accelerate even more. As a result, weight loss post menopause must focus on maintaining strong bones and muscles while emphasizing fat burning for women.
  • Height: Women gradually lose height beginning in their 30s, but women often lose inches at a faster pace after menopause. As your height shrinks, excess belly fat can change your center of gravity, increasing your risk of falls.
  • Overall health: After menopause, your risk of heart disease and other conditions sharply increases. Losing weight after menopause is one way that you can support overall health.

Calorie intake recommendations

The USDA recommends that women over 60 years of age consume 1,600 to 2,000 calories per day. Due to the slowing of your metabolism, you will likely need to decrease your calorie intake to maintain your weight and will need an even greater deficit to support losing weight after 60.

Exercise recommendations

Your exercise needs change once you reach the age of 60. Because many women find that they can no longer safely continue high-physical activity, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that older adults strive for 300 minutes of moderate physical activity, such as walking or yoga. Muscle-strengthening exercises are crucial to ensure that you’re burning post menopausal belly fat rather than muscle.

Key weight loss tips 

Follow these tips for losing weight in your 60s:

  1. Work with your doctor to develop your exercise plan. Your primary care physician can recommend exercises to maintain strong bones and lose belly fat for women that are ideal for you based on your overall health.
  2. Strive for variety in your diet. Don’t fall into a menu rut. By changing up the foods you eat and choosing items from every food group, you can avoid nutritional deficiencies.
  3. Consider supplements as needed. Because older adults are more at risk for low levels of calcium and other nutrients, you may need to add supplements to your weight loss plan for women over 50. Your doctor can discuss the best weight loss supplements for women of your age.

Forward can help you lose weight at any age

When striving to lose weight, women benefit from a customized approach. The best way to lose weight for women depends on an individual’s lifestyle, health, culture and goals. That’s why Forward’s Weight Management Program doesn’t offer one-size-fits-all solutions. This 12-week, doctor-led program begins with assessments and medical testing to gain a clear picture of your needs. Then, we develop a custom-tailored diet and exercise plan to help you reach your weight loss goals. Throughout your journey, we provide support as your primary care provider to ensure that you can lose weight safely at any age.

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