Watching the number on the scale move down is such a rewarding feeling when you’re taking all the proper steps to lose weight. But when the scale moves up or remains stagnant, it can be incredibly frustrating, to say the least. Having just the right foods and healthy meals on deck is crucial, which is why we spoke with the experts who share their recommended eating habits for rapid weight loss after 50.
Preventing blood sugar spikes and crashes after you hit 50 is critical, as this can majorly impact your weight loss efforts, The Nutrition Twins®, Tammy Lakatos Shames, RD, CDN, CFT, and Lyssie Lakatos, RD, CDN, CFT, tell Eat This, Not That! “Regardless of whether or not you have diabetes, how you eat affects blood sugar and can trigger the release of neurotransmitters, and when it comes to weight, cortisol—aka the belly fat hormone—is one that really spells trouble. The excess production of cortisol from the blood sugar lows starts a domino effect for weight gain, particularly around the belly at a pivotal time in life when there are other hormonal changes occurring,” they explain.
As if it wasn’t already the worst, cortisol can increase inflammation, which makes losing weight a more grueling process. It also puts stress on the body, which activates the release of even more cortisol, setting a “vicious cycle” in place. “If you can shut down the blood sugar spikes, you can start losing weight at a much quicker pace,” The Nutrition Twins say.
Below are some ways you can nix the blood sugar spikes and reach your ideal weight. Keep reading to learn about the best eating habits for rapid weight loss after 50. And next, be sure to check out You’ll Never Lose Weight if You’re Still Eating These 11 Things.
Protein is your weight loss bestie for a few reasons. The Nutrition Twins call it a “satiating macronutrient” that helps keep your blood sugar stable and will have you feeling full long after you finish a protein-packed meal. In addition, protein consumption helps you maintain lean muscle tissue, which plays a key role in fueling your metabolism since muscle torches a substantially greater amount of calories than fat does. The Nutrition Twins recommend including 20 to 30 grams of protein in each meal.
Lisa Young, Ph.D., RDN, the author of Finally Full, Finally Slim, a nutritionist in private practice, and a member of our Medical Expert Board, agrees that bumping up your protein intake can help you achieve rapid weight loss. In fact, she explains, “This is one of the most effective ways for weight loss after 50 years of age. This is because not only does increasing your protein intake help with weight loss, but it can also stop or reverse age-related muscle loss.”
Eating fiber-packed non-starchy vegetables first and foremost is an excellent way to start your meal. Why? As The Nutrition Twins put it, “The fiber slows digestion, and when eaten at the beginning of the meal will help to stabilize your blood sugar so that when you eat carbs, the carb’s ability to spike blood sugar will be blunted.”
Research backs up how beneficial fiber is to your weight loss efforts. For example, according to a study published in The Journal of Nutrition, increasing fiber intake by four grams each day over a six-month timeframe was associated with an extra 3 ¼ pounds of lost weight.
There’s nothing quite as rewarding as whipping up a nourishing, homemade meal. Plus, you know all of the fresh, healthy ingredients that are going into it and can take control of your portion sizes! Young suggests cooking more of your meals at home, as research shows it can help you lose weight. She stresses, “Eating out less frequently and cooking more at home is a great way to live a healthier lifestyle and has been linked to weight loss.”
On your next shopping trip, add more fresh produce to your shopping cart. “Produce is one of the best foods to incorporate into your diet for effective weight loss,” Young tells us. “They are high in fiber and nutrients and low in calories. There have been numerous studies that pay close attention to the participants increasing their produce intake. These studies have demonstrated that the individuals who eat more produce and a variety, has been linked to lower body weight, decreased waist circumference, and less body fat.”
Those unwanted blood sugar spikes we previously chatted about? Well, you certainly want to avoid eating ultra-processed, refined doughy carbs such as bagels, crackers, cookies, and pastries, which can be the culprits of the spike. “Nothing spikes your blood sugar more than highly refined carbs—the body recognizes them as sugar and responds by kicking out a lot of insulin to lower blood sugar, and it typically results in a sugar crash,” The Nutrition Twins explain. So opt for wholesome carbs that are unprocessed instead.