While hormones play a role in age-related weight gain, so does your lifestyle. The best diet for women over 50 is one that matches their daily calorie needs and weight loss goals. Women of this age tend to be less active and eat more calories than their body needs, says the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. To make a swing in the other direction, you need to find a calorie-controlled plan that is filled with nutrient-rich foods and suits your taste buds.
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The Mediterranean diet, the DASH diet and the Ornish diet support overall health and well-being. Even though these plans are not specially designed for weight loss, they promote the consumption of whole, natural foods and can help you get leaner. The key is to control your daily calorie intake.
High-Protein Weight Loss Plans
Getting a little more protein in your diet may be the way to go when you're trying to lose weight, according to a December 2014 research paper published in the International Journal of Obesity. This nutrient has a higher thermic effect than carbs and fats, meaning that your body uses more energy to digest it. Furthermore, protein helps preserves lean mass and keeps your metabolism up while suppressing appetite.
The best diet for women over 50 could be one that's high in protein and low or moderate in carbs. Make sure your daily meals include fish, lean meat, poultry, legumes and other protein-rich foods. Low-fat dairy and eggs are a good option too.
Examples of weight loss programs that are high in protein include Weight Watchers — with 26 percent of calories from protein, the Atkins Diet — with 29 percent of calories from protein and the South Beach Diet — with 30 percent of calories from protein. These diet plans may not be safe for everyone, so consult your doctor before getting started.
Diets Rich in Vegetarian Foods
If you're not a fan of meat, you may do better on a weight loss program that emphasizes fruits and vegetables. A September 2013 study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that women over 50 were more successful at keeping the weight off when they followed diets that were rich in fruits and vegetables while limiting meat and cheese.
Good weight loss programs with an emphasis on fruits and veggies that might help women over 50 lose weight include the DASH diet, the Mediterranean diet and the Mayo Clinic diet. In fact, these eating plans are suitable for all ages as they promote overall health and supply your body with the nutrients needed to function optimally.
The Mediterranean diet, for example, has been linked to lower rates of heart disease and overall mortality. It may also protect against cancer and neurodegenerative disorders, according to the Mayo Clinic. Since it's based on whole foods, it may help you get leaner. This makes it one of the best diets for weight loss over 50.
Read more: 12 Tips to Succeed at Your Weight Loss Resolutions
Heart-Healthy Diet Plans
In addition to weight gain, women over 50 are also at a greater risk of developing chronic illnesses, including high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease due to the changes in hormone levels. Weight loss programs that focus on disease prevention and overall health may also work on helping you lose those pesky pounds.
Diet programs that support cardiovascular health include the Ornish diet and the TLC diet as well as the Mediterranean diet. According to the National Research Center in Complementary and Alternative Medicine, the Ornish diet may improve cardiovascular health for a person with prostate cancer. Even though most studies have been conducted on men, its beneficial effects may apply to women as well.
This dietary plan encourages regular exercise, stress management and the consumption of vegan foods. It's low in fat and consists mostly of whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes.
Read more: 9 Unhealthy, Even Dangerous Weight-Loss Diets
Getting Your Groove On
When you're trying to lose weight, diet is one piece of the puzzle; the other is exercise. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends women over 50 to engage in 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, such as a brisk walk or bike ride, most days of the week to burn extra calories. Two weekly sessions of weight training can help build and preserve muscle, which is beneficial for weight loss maintenance.
According to the National Weight Control Registry, 94 percent of the people who have lost weight and kept it off engage in some sort of regular physical activity. If your doctor gives the okay for exercising, consult a personal trainer for fitness ideas suits your needs.
Regardless of what diet plan you choose, remember to control your calorie intake. The key is to create a calorie deficit. What this means is that you need to burn more calories than you take in. A high-protein diet, for example, can facilitate weight loss, but you still need to watch your daily food intake and cut back on calories.
- Harvard School of Public Health: "The Best Diet"
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: "Eating Right During Menopause"
- Nature: "The Role of Higher Protein Diets in Weight Control and Obesity-Related Comorbidities"
- Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: "Short- and Long-Term Eating Habit Modification Predict Weight Change in Overweight, Post-Menopausal Women: Results From the WOMAN Study"
- American Diabetes Association: "Diabetes Meal Plans and Healthy Eating"
- Mayo Clinic: "Mediterranean Diet: A Heart-Healthy Eating Plan"
- National Research Center in Complementary and Alternative Medicine: "Ornish Diet and Lifestyle Modification Programme"
- National Weight Control Registry: "NWCR Facts"
- CDC.gov: "Balancing Diet and Activity to Lose and Maintain Weight"
- National Weight Control Registry: Research Findings