How can women above the age of 50 lose weight
This article was medically reviewed by M.Pharm, Marko Tanaskovic on August 12, 2018. To read more about an author, click here.
Women above the age of 50 experience numerous metabolic and hormonal changes. Metabolism slows down as you age, (especially in women), by 5% every decade after you turn 40 years old. The most important change is that your body is getting ready for menopause that typically occurs in the late 40s or early 50s. The ovarian supply of eggs decreases and the ovaries produce fewer hormones (estrogen and progesterone). These hormones have a significant impact on the metabolism in women.
Estrogen has a positive effect on metabolism (speeds up metabolism). During menopause, estrogen levels start to decline which slows down your metabolism.
During menopause, the ovarian secretion of estrogen ends. However, as your body still needs estrogen, it is created elsewhere - in fat cells. During menopause, your ovaries stop producing estrogen but they continue to produce male hormones, androgens (testosterone) which is transported in fat cells. Fat cells synthetize enzymes called aromatase which converts the androgens in estrogen. Therefore, during menopause, your brain sends signals to the body to preserve fat cells at all costs and to convert all excess calories into fat, so they can create estrogen. Therefore, significantly more fat will now be accumulated in your body.
Another important change is that due to lack of estrogen, you will now have increased androgen (male hormones) levels, which leads to belly fat accumulation. Estrogen also has a major impact on bones and it inhibits bone resorption. Lower estrogen levels mean increased numbers and activity of osteoclasts (osteoclasts resorb bone tissue - break down bone).1 Bone resorption means breaking down bones and releasing minerals from bones (calcium and phosphorus) and their transfer to the blood.
If your bones lose calcium, it makes them weaker, thinner and brittle, therefore, there is a greater risk for fractures. Also, decrease in estrogen levels, makes your skin more sensitive, and makes your teeth more susceptible to caries causing the tooth to loosen and fall out. It is important to know that dropping estrogen levels in the blood increases the risk of heart attack. That is why proper nutrition is very important at this age.
Foods to eat and foods to avoid
To compensate the decrease in estrogen levels, you should eat vegetables and fruits that are high in a key compound called flavonoids because flavonoids have a similar effect and activity as estrogen.2
Flavonoids also have an antioxidant effect (prevent cell damage from free radicals reactions)3, anti-inflammatory effect (reduce inflammation in the body)4, cardio-protective effect (protect the heart and blood vessels) and a antihypertensive effect (lower blood pressure in people with high blood pressure)5. Besides acting like estrogen and preventing obesity, flavonoids have many others health benefits, therefore, you need to add foods rich in flavonoids to your diet.
Fruits and vegetables rich in flavonoids include:
- green tea (it is the largest single source of flavonoids) and others.
You would also benefit from taking fresh lemon juice (no sugar added) half an hour before each meal. Lemon juice is very rich in flavonoids and can speed up your metabolism, reduce fat accumulation and prevent your cholesterol levels from becoming high, lower your blood sugar levels and lower your level of insulin resistance. 6
Taking bee products in women above the age of 50 can have many health benefits. Bee products can reduce bacterial dental plaque (the main cause of dental caries) and gingivitis (gum inflammation). Bee products also have antioxidant effects and prevent atherosclerosis, which can lead to heart attack or stroke! The best way of using bee products is to dissolve a tablespoon of honey (use only a wooden tablespoon) in a glass of lukewarm water and add 20 drops of Propolis extract. Prepare this beverage and drink it before breakfast in the morning. Regular drinking of this beverage will help you strengthen your immune system and help prevent the development of atherosclerosis. Also, numerous studies have shown that bee products reduce the risk of cancer (especially breast and prostate cancer).7
Avoid canned foods, fruits and vegetables that are sprayed with pesticides and other chemicals, fatty and spicy foods. Avoid white bread, rice, spaghetti, macaroni and other pasta. Avoid fast food (hamburgers, French fries, fried chicken, pancakes and other foods). Avoid eating fast food more than once a week. Do not drink carbonated drinks. Drink only freshly squeezed juice. Besides lemonade, you should also drink at least one glass of freshly squeezed orange juice each day.
You also need to be physically active (walking recommended) for at least an hour a day. Manage your time and make sure to build one hour of walking into your daily routine. It has been shown that physical activity at least half an hour each day increases the number of calories your body burns, even when you are not physically active.
If you are obese and you have decided to lose weight, make sure you do not use extreme weight loss diets (losing more than 1,000 calories a day.) Women in their 50s, on average, require 1800 to 2200 calories per day. Use the diets where you take in about 500-750 calories less than you are estimated to burn. In this way, you will lose one kilogram (one pound) of weight for 5-7 days. If you are on an extreme diet (one where you take in 1000 calories and more than you are estimated to burn), you can cause a variety of disorders in your body. Diet should always be healthy (not extreme), to ensure you get sufficient amounts of all the vitamins you need, as well as minerals and other substances that are needed for the body to function while you are losing calories.
To increase bone strength, you should take low-fat yogurt, low-fat cheese, low-fat milk, fish (recommended salmon or sardines), kale, broccoli and freshly squeezed orange juice every day. These foods are rich in calcium, and your needs for calcium are increased when your estrogen levels have decreased. The recommended calcium intake in women above the age of 50 is 1200-1500 mg of calcium daily. By taking these foods, you will get enough calcium for your body's needs, therefore you may prevent osteoporosis (weakening of bones due to loss of calcium which makes bones more susceptible to fractures).
- B.Lawrence Rigs. The mechanism of estrogen regulation of bone resorption. J Clin Invest. 2000: 106 (10): 1203-1204.
- Miksicek RJ. Commonly occuring plant flavonoids have estrogenic activity. Mol Pharmacol. 1993: 44(1): 37-43.
- Lukianova LD, Germanova EL, Lysko Al. Energotropic, antihypoxic, and antioxidative effects of flavonoids. Vestn Ross Akad Med Nauk. 2007: (2): 55-62.
- Hamalainen M1, Nieminen R, Vuorela P, Heinonen M, Moilanen E. Anti-inflammatory effects of flavonoids: genistein, kaempferol, quercetin, and daidzein inhibit STAT-1 and NF-kappaB activations, whereas flavons, isohamnetin, naringenin, and pelargonidin inhibit only NF-kappaB activation along with their inhibitory effects on iNOS expression and NO production in activated macrophages. Mediators Inflamm. 2007: 2007: 45673.
- Testai L, Martelli A, Cristofaro M and others. Cardioprotective effects of different flavonoids against myocardial ischaemia/reperfusion injury in Langendorff-perfused rat hearts. J Pharm Pharmacol. 2013: 65(5): 750-6.
- Yoshiko F, Masanori H, Miki O, and others. Lemon Polyphenols Supress Diet-induced Obesity bz Up-Regulation of mRNA Levels of the Enzymes Involved in Beta-Oxidation in Mouse White Adipose Tissue. J Clin Biochem Nutr. 2008: 43(3): 201-209.
- Pongsathon P, Chanpen C. Review of the anticancer activities of bee products. Asian Pac J Trop Biomed. 2014: 4(5): 337-344.
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