It’s no secret to any woman over the age of 50 that maintaining a healthy weight can be a challenge. Our metabolism is slowing as we’re getting older, and that plus the loss of muscle mass and decline in hormones makes us quite susceptible to weight gain.
As I’m traveling through my 60’s I can attest to the fact that maintaining a steady weight as the years go by requires commitment and effort on a daily basis, with what I call the BIG 3: aerobic exercise, strength training, and nutritious, healthy eating.
So I’m not just writing about the challenge of discovering which 50 plus diet plan is best, and what kind of nutritious eating plans will work, I’m living it every single day. Some days are better than others, for sure, but on the whole my efforts have paid off with a relatively stable weight over the years.
In this article we’ll look at five nutritious eating plans that may include weight loss for women over the age of 50. If you find it a challenge to keep the clothes fitting comfortably, see which eating plan might fit your health and lifestyle needs.
You’ll also find helpful books and resources to follow up with any of the eating plans that you want to learn more about.
Keep in mind that these are recommendations based on research, and it is always best to consult your physician before making any significant lifestyle decisions, including diet.
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Five 50 Plus Diet Plans
1 | Mediterranean Diet Plan
If your philosophy is similar to mine, the ‘everything in moderation’ approach of the highly rated, popular Mediterranean Diet plan may work very well for you.
Food groups are not restricted, and the emphasis is on obtaining carbohydrates from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. You’ll get more fiber from whole grains and will feel fuller longer.
As women over 50 we’re looking for ways to combat the muscle loss that is a natural part of the aging process. The emphasis on omega-3 fats found in fish and olive oil will help us with hormone production as well as keep us feeling full and satisfied.
Here are the basic elements of the Mediterranean Diet:
- Base every meal on fruits, vegetables, whole grains (whole wheat bread, brown rice, quinoa, and bulgur), olive oil, beans, nuts, legumes (lentils, dried peas, and beans), seeds, herbs, and spices.
- Eat fish at least twice a week.
- Eat moderate portions of cheese and yogurt daily to weekly.
- Eat moderate portions of poultry and eggs every two days or weekly.
- Eat red meat sparingly or limit to three-ounce portions.
- Drink plenty of water each day, and drink wine in moderation—no more than one (5-ounce) glass a day for women, two glasses per day for men.
Other helpful tips for this nutritious eating plan:
- Sauté food in olive oil, not butter.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables by having them as a snack or adding them to other recipes
- Choose whole grains instead of refined bread and pasta
- Substitute a fish meal for red meat at least twice per week
- Limit high-fat dairy by switching to skim or 1% milk from 2% or whole.
2 | Paleo Diet Plan
Another popular 50 plus diet plan is the Paleo Plan. It’s a high-protein, low carbohydrate meal plan that can be helpful if you’re dealing with insulin resistance and are not able to process carbs as effectively.
The name ‘Paleo’ was given to this eating plan because the foods eaten are similar to what might have been eaten in the Paleolithic era, dating from about 2.5 million to 10,000 years ago. Fun fact. 🙂
So it’s no surprise that the goal of this diet is to return to a way of eating that more closely matches how the human body is genetically made – not necessarily the modern diet choices we find ourselves making today.
You might choose to follow this nutritious eating plan in order to lose weight or to find meal-planning assistance. Some paleo diets have more restrictions than others, but in general, you’ll find these foods are included:
- Nuts and seeds
- Lean meats, especially grass-fed animals or wild game
- Fish, especially those rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, mackerel and albacore tuna
- Oils from fruits and nuts, such as olive oil or walnut oil
You won’t find these foods offered on the Paleo Diet:
- Grains, such as wheat, oats, and barley
- Legumes, such as beans, lentils, peanuts and peas
- Dairy products
- Refined sugar
- Highly processed foods in general
You might find the Paleo Diet worthwhile if you’re goal is to lose weight, improve glucose tolerance, control your blood pressure, lower your triglycerides, or in general manage your appetite more effectively.
3 | Whole Foods Diet Plan
Another name for the Whole Food plan is a clean eating plan. This philosophy and style of eating avoid all processed foods. It is also referred to as a whole-foods, plant-based diet (WFPB).
Benefits to a whole foods eating plan can be the prevention of inflammation and the ability to manage hormones more effectively (no antibiotics or preservatives in the food consumed).
As the name implies, real food products are on the list of what to eat and generally looks something like this:
- Emphasizes whole, minimally processed foods.
- Limits or avoids animal products.
- Focuses on plants, including vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, seeds, and nuts, which should make up the majority of what you eat.
- Excludes refined foods, like added sugars, white flour, and processed oils.
- Pays special attention to food quality, with many proponents of the WFPB diet promoting locally sourced, organic food whenever possible.
There are some similarities between this eating plan and a vegan or vegetarian diet, with less restrictions as well as different interpretations of what to eliminate from the diet.
A whole food eating plan has a number of benefits as shown be studies that have been conducted:
- facilitate weight loss with the high fiber and exclusion of processed foods
- can help keep weight off for a long period of time
- can lower the risk of heart disease
- may help or slow the onset of cognitive decline
- may help manage and reduce the risk of developing diabetes
4 | New American Diet Plan
The AARP New American Diet plan emphsizes healthy, whole foods over unhealthy, processed ones. Do you see the pattern emerging here with these 50 plus diet plans?
The principles of the New American Diet plan are as follows:
Don’t skip breakfast. And when you eat the first meal of the day, include protein, whole grains, and fruit. This will help keep your insulin level steady all morning and prevent overeating later.
Drink more water. Many empty calories are consumed through juice, soda, alcohol, etc. It is suggested that we drink only coffee and water (no diet soda) for two weeks and see how the weight comes off.
Eat fish. Fish provides the omega-3 fatty acids we need for brain health. Plus, the calories are low and also provides us with essential nutrients. Along with the consumption of fish is the reduction of red and processed meats.
Bring on the fruits and veggies. AARP’s study found that incorporating fruits and vegetables into your diet can help with weight loss and even help you live longer.
Enjoy whole grains. They’re a major source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Regular consumption of foods like whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta, and brown rice can cut your risk of heart disease, respiratory illness and some cancers. And, they can help you lose weight.
Include low-fat dairy foods. As women over 50 we may be deficient in calcium and vitamin D. Dairy foods are a rich source of both, and the low-fat variety can aid in weight loss.
Stay away from ‘diet’ foods. Be wary of foods labeled ‘low fat’ or ‘fat free’, as they can often contain more sugar and ultimately cause weight gain.
Read and understand food labels. Scan them for calories and nutrients, then make a wise decision.
Eat snacks. Consume one snack between breakfast and lunch, and another between lunch and dinner. No snacking after dinner. Make sure it’s a healthy snack like a handful of nuts or a piece of fruit.
Chew gum. It can reduce mindless snacking (I call it grazing), and, chewing gum releases hormones that signal your brain that you’re full. How cool is that? I’m going to buy some gum.
5 | Weight Watchers Diet Plan
It’s been around for years, and Weight Watchers is still one of the most popular and recommended diet and eating plans. The US News and World Report has ranked Weight Watchers the #1 Best Diet for Weight Loss in their annual ranking for the last ten years (2011-2020).
Today, WW is used to not only lose weight, but also to inspire overall healthy living and improve well-being, through the myWW program.
Launched in late 2019, it’s the most customized and flexible program to be introduced, using the SmartPoints system, then leveraging details about a person’s food preferences and lifestyle to match them to one of three comprehensive ways to follow the program.
Overall, the SmartPoints WW system guides members toward an overall eating pattern that is lower in calories, saturated fat and sugar, and higher in protein. And, no foods are off-limits.
Flexibility is key with the points system used in Weight Watchers. Once your personal daily points are calculated, stay within them to lose weight.
Membership is not free, although there are several options when joining. And, members can access thousands of free recipes on the company’s website or mobile app.
Use the WW app when dining out and get all the details when ordering your meal.
My past experience with Weight Watchers was positive. I like being in control, of course, so choosing my meals and allocating the points as I desired worked well for me.
Learn more about joining Weight Watchers
Maintaining a healthy approach to eating is one essential part of a healthy lifestyle as women over 50. If you’re searching for the 50 plus diet plan that will help you control your weight and stay healthy, hopefully, one of these nutritious eating plans will hit the mark!