Let's face it, weight loss is hard work. That's why having a good program is paramount for succeeding in it. Today we will look at the best weight loss programs for seniors!
If you are a senior looking for a weight loss program, the chances are that you've tried losing weight before countless times. You might have even succeeded. For a while.
The problem with weight loss is that most people who succeed in it temporarily will end up gaining back all the weight. There are many reasons for this, that we'll talk more about in a minute, but by far the most common reason is that people crash diet in a way that they can't sustain.
Maintaining lower body weight is as hard as losing it. But you can take comfort in the fact that neither of them has to be as hard as most people make it be!
But in order to succeed in losing weight and keeping it off, you will have to essentially learn a new skill. The skill of controlling your weight. This is something that should be taught at schools but it isn't.
Don't have time to read through the whole article? Here's the best weight loss program for seniors:
Many things that you might think are necessary for weight loss actually aren’t. Just look at these common myths:
“You have to avoid sugar to lose weight!” No, you don’t.
“You have to avoid all carbs to lose weight!” No, you don’t.
“You have to avoid fat to lose weight!” No, you don’t.
“You have to avoid *insert any food* to lose weight!” No. You really don’t.
“Insulin makes you fat!” No, it doesn’t. It’s just a hormone among others.
“You can’t lose weight without exercising every day!” Yes, you can. You don’t need any exercise to lose weight.
“You must eat only healthy foods to lose weight!” No, you don’t. You can lose weight with Doritos just fine.
“You need supplements to lose weight!” No, you don’t. Virtually all weight loss supplements are useless.
Those were just some of the most common ones from the top of my head. I bet you have heard a lot more, feel free to share them in the comments section at the end of this post so I can debunk them. Thank you!
Before we go into details about why those myths aren’t true, let’s look at why you don’t want to just lose any weight.
Weight loss vs. fat loss
Most people who don’t have an athletic background are only concerned with the number on the scale. This is a huge mistake, especially for seniors.
Your body weight consists essentially of four things. Fat, muscle, other lean tissue, and water. Guess which one of these you should aim to reduce when losing weight?
Fat is the stuff you can pinch on your gut and love handles. It’s the stuff that jiggles when you jump up and down. Fat is always stored within fat cells. Most of the fat cells in the human body are located between the skin and the muscle tissue. This is called subcutaneous fat.
There is also fat within your muscle cells. This is called intramuscular fat. It essentially makes your muscles look bigger and provide some energy for the muscle cells during exercise.
Finally, there is fat stored within your abdominal cavity in between your internal organs. This is called visceral fat and it’s associated with metabolic diseases like type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance as well as high blood cholesterol levels.
Muscle tissue consists of all the skeletal muscles all around your body. There are other types of muscle tissues but for the sake of simplicity, we will count them in the other lean tissue.
The amount of muscle tissue on your body depends on many things including your sex, size, genetics and your lifestyle. Especially exercise and diet play a large role in the amount of muscle tissue and strength training is the most effective way to increase muscle tissue.
Besides working as the motor of your body, muscle tissue has several other important functions. For example, it supports your skeletal structure and keeps your spine healthy.
Muscle tissue protects your body from outside forces by providing a tough protective layer around your bones and internal organs.
For your metabolic health and controlling your weight muscle tissue has another important function. It consumes a significant amount of energy even at rest and works as a storage for blood sugar in the form of glycogen.
This means that muscle tissue helps you both burn calories and lower your blood sugar levels as well as blood lipids. Muscle tissues mainly consist of proteins and it’s crucial to get enough protein in your diet to maintain your muscle mass when losing weight.
Other lean tissue is everything else that isn’t fat or skeletal muscle. This includes your internal organs, your brain, bones, skin, ligaments, etc. Everything else.
Water. Finally, we carry a lot of water in our bodies and the amount can change quite rapidly for several pounds. Just drink a couple of glasses of water. You just gained a pound!
When you lose weight, water weight is your enemy because it can mask fat loss, and it can also give you false hope when you lose several pounds overnight.
Most of our body is water but the fluctuating part is mainly carried within our muscle cells, fat cells, and digestive system.
Muscle tissue stores water with energy. Glycogen is the storage form of blood sugar glucose within the muscle cells, glycogen binds water to the muscle cells, so when your muscles energy reserves are full, you will carry a significant amount of water with it.
When you empty muscle glycogen and don’t replace it, which happens in a severe caloric deficit or with a very low carbohydrate diet, you will lose a significant amount of water weight with it. This is why low carb diets seem to make you lose several pounds during the first couple of weeks.
Fat tissue can store water as well. This is actually where your body dumps any excess water due to hormonal or electrolytic reasons. High amounts of the stress hormone cortisol, for example, can store large amounts of water in your fat tissue as can eating too much salt.
Your digestive system can store several pounds of water. It can be stored in the food you eat, within your bowels and in your bladder. You can quite literally lose up to 5 lbs simply by going to the toilet.
So which to lose?
Now that we know what our body weight consists of we can better comprehend what we actually want to lose and what we want to increase.
It should be quite obvious that you want to lose fat mass, nothing else. Water weight is an ever-fluctuating variable that will make you question your weight loss efforts but otherwise, it’s harmless.
The two things we definitely do not want to lose are muscle mass and lean tissue. Severe restrictive diets and extreme exercise can make you lose both. That’s right, your body can even cannibalize your internal organs if you do stupid and extreme stuff!
So, an effective weight loss program will be designed in a way that both the diet and exercise try to maximize fat loss and minimize muscle loss.
The importance of macronutrients
Before we look at the most important thing for fat loss, we need to take a quick look at macronutrients. Macronutrients are the main components all food consists of and they all have important functions in your body. The good news is that there are only three of them.
The three macronutrients, that all food consists of, are fats, carbohydrates, and protein. Food can consist of all of these or single one of these or any combination.
Besides actual macronutrients, your food consists of fiber, water, micronutrients, and other organic compounds. But macronutrients are the only components that can provide energy to your body. The amount of energy is usually reported in kilocalories (kcal or calories for short) or kilojoules (kJ).
Fat is the most calorie-dense macronutrient, containing 9 kcal of energy per gram. While you might have heard that fat is bad for health, this is actually not true. On the contrary. Fat is essential for health and life in general.
Hormones and many tissues in your body require sufficient fat to regenerate. This is why a successful fat loss program has to have a healthy minimum amount of fat in it.
You have probably heard there are “good” and “bad” fats. For the sake of simplicity I won’t go too deep into this subject here but generally speaking the mono- and polyunsaturated fats from fish and vegetable sources are considered healthier than the saturated fat from red meat and milk.
The science on this subject is still a bit contradicting but it definitely seems to be wise to limit your saturated fat amounts to low to moderate amounts.
There are also trans fats that are created by chemical manipulation or heating that are very unhealthy for you. They are common in industrial pastries, cakes, and fast food due to their good shelf life.
A healthy diet should include a healthy mix of saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats with a good amount of Omega 3 fats from fish. Fat should consist 15 – 30% of a healthy diet.
Carbohydrates, or carbs for short, are the main energy source of our muscles and brain. While they are an important energy source, they are not crucial for survival. Carbohydrates are stored in your muscles as glycogen.
This is because our bodies can use fat and protein to form sufficient amounts of glucose for our brain to survive and ketone bodies to work as fuel for our muscles.
This is what happens if you fast for several days or go on a very low carb diet, also known as a keto diet. While keto diets can help you to lose weight and improve your insulin sensitivity, they are not some magic bullet like some proponents make them be.
Carbohydrates are needed for optimal muscle function and some people simply can’t feel good on a ketogenic diet, there definitely seems to be a high individual variation. There is also some recent scientific proof that low carb diets might actually be unhealthy in the long term.
Carbohydrates can be found in almost all vegetable sources and especially in fruits, tubers, corn, and berries. Sugars and starch are both carbohydrates. While sugar itself really isn’t unhealthy, refined sugar can wreak havoc on your sense of satiety and you should avoid high amounts of it.
For a healthy weight loss program, the amount of carbohydrates should be determined by your activity levels. The carbs will fill up what is left of your daily energy allowance after eating the necessary amounts of protein and fats that are more important for your health.
Protein is the final piece of the puzzle. Protein is what our tissues are mostly made up and you need sufficient amounts of protein in your diet to stay healthy. Protein is also very effective in controlling appetite and hunger, just like fat.
Protein can be found in meats, milk (and cheese, etc.), fish, eggs, soy, lentils, nuts and many other vegetable sources in lower quantities. Proteins consist of amino acids that are needed for building different protein molecules in your body.
All animal sources of protein have all the necessary amino acids your body needs, that’s why they are called complete proteins. Some vegetable proteins lack some key amino acids so it’s important to combine different vegetable sources of protein if you are a vegan.
When you are losing weight, protein is actually needed in higher amounts than when maintaining weight. You’ll learn why in the next chapter. For now, we can establish that a healthy weight loss diet will include 0.8 – 1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight.
Doing strength training will increase the amount of necessary protein, as will increased age. Since you should definitely be doing strength training to avoid muscle loss during weight loss, you should aim for the higher range.
I’d still like to point out that protein is nothing magical, like the fitness and health community sometimes makes it seem, it’s just food. But having enough protein in your diet will definitely help you achieve your weight loss goals faster and with better results.
The only thing that matters for weight loss
Now here’s the secret. To lose weight you need this one and single thing. To lose weight effectively, you need to be in a caloric deficit. Period.
There are people who claim otherwise, you might have even tried counting calories before and failed, I sure did and failed, but a caloric deficit is the only thing that can make you lose weight.
To lose fat, you need to lose weight. It is possible in some cases to build muscle simultaneously while losing fat but it’s rare. To effectively lose fat you will virtually always have to lose weight.
So you need a caloric deficit. This is the single most important thing on an effective weight loss program. Your body fat is your energy store in case of famine. Your body won’t want to get rid of it without an actual famine, and a caloric deficit is virtually what a famine is.
Your body is very good at keeping it’s fat stores full if there isn’t a caloric deficit. When you aren’t eating enough, the fat cells start to release those stores to make up for the lack of sufficient energy. This will result in fat loss.
But if you are not careful with the amount of the caloric deficit, the fat stores won’t be able to keep up with the demand. Since your body is very effective in survival, it will resort to another energy source. Your muscle tissue!
When you have too great of a caloric deficit, you risk losing muscle tissue, which you definitely don’t want. Especially as a senior. You can read more about the benefits of muscle tissue here.
Your body will also prefer to lose any excess muscle tissue before body fat because it’s not necessary for survival. Unless you give it a reason and nutrients to keep the muscle mass.
The two things that prevent you from losing precious muscle mass during caloric deficit are resistance training and sufficient protein.
If you don’t exert your muscles, your body won’t have a reason to keep the metabolically costly muscle mass for survival. It’s simply a case of use it or lose it.
Since your other lean tissue also needs protein and amino acids to regenerate, your body is more than willing to break down your muscle tissues to save these more vital tissues. Unless you provide enough of the building blocks in your diet, that is.
This is why a sufficient amount of protein is crucial for successful fat loss. You can lose weight just fine without it, but it won’t be healthy and your results won’t be what you are actually looking for. A fit and healthy body.
Exercise and fat loss
So do you have to exercise to lose fat? I’m sure you have seen the commercials and been told your whole life that exercise is is mandatory for fat loss. The fact is, it isn’t.
You can lose fat just fine simply through diet. Excessive amounts of exercise can actually make losing weight unhealthy and increase the amount of muscle loss.
That said, resistance exercise is recommended and in my opinion required for healthy weight loss because it helps to preserve your muscle mass while you burn off the fat.
Cardio or endurance exercise, on the other hand, is not mandatory. If you are in a consistent caloric deficit and are doing strength training, doing a lot of cardio can actually make you lose muscle and gain water weight.
On the other hand, if you do enjoy cardio, it offers several health benefits and allows you to eat a bit more, the extra food providing your body with more nutrients.
So as long as you keep it reasonable, exercise will support your weight loss goals but you have to be careful not to overdo it. If you are feeling tired, you know you are in a caloric deficit and don’t feel like going for a jog, don’t. You might end up causing more harm than good.
Resistance training should be done at least twice a week, keeping intensity high and volume low to moderate. You need to have the mindset that you are not doing the exercise to burn calories but to maintain muscle mass.
There’s a big difference. The most common error people do while trying to lose weight is to increase their workout volume and reduce weight. This is the exact opposite of what you should be doing.
Intensity, meaning the weight or resistance you are lifting, is the single factor that signals your body to reserve the muscles. If you reduce the weight and increase the volume, this only signals your body that you don’t need as much muscle mass.
While you might burn a few extra calories, the loss of muscle mass over time will have an overall negative effect on your fat loss and body composition. Remember, you should aim to improve your body composition, not simply lose weight.
If you simply want to lose weight, you could stop eating or cut off a leg. You would most certainly lose weight but I think we can agree that’s not what you are actually after.
What makes a good weight loss program?
So now that we know the basic requirements of losing weight, let’s sum up what a good weight loss program requires.
- The program has to have a dietary component that aims to create a caloric deficit
- The program has to have a dietary component that aims to provide sufficient protein intake
- The program needs to incorporate some form of resistance training to stave off muscle loss
- The program can’t suggest an extreme caloric deficit to avoid muscle loss
- The program isn’t based on exercise, especially cardio
Besides those four requirements, it doesn’t really matter how the weight loss program is constructed. Things like ketogenic diets and other low carb diets do work if they create a caloric deficit. So do low-fat diets.
Because creating a consistent caloric deficit is definitely the hardest part of a weight loss program, I think a good program needs to teach you how to either measure or estimate very accurately your calories or even provide meals ready-made for you.
If you want to track your calories accurately, you will need a food scale and either a spreadsheet or a calorie counting app on your smartphone. There are several good ones but there’s also one in the program I recommend.
So now that we know what to look for, it’s time to jump to the programs!
My #1 recommendation: Burn The Fat
Burn the Fat is a superior fat loss program created by Tom Venuto, a personal trainer, nutrition consultant, fitness model, gym manager, and a best-selling author.
Tom Venuto has published a book called Burn the fat, feed the muscle that was a bestseller and a very successful fat loss program.
The Burn the Fat inner circle includes all the information discussed in the book with added knowledge since the original publication date of 2002 as well as a community that is very helpful.
Some people actually reference the program as “the bible of fat loss” as it’s so thorough. The program is still very beginner-friendly as everything is explained in an easily understandable way.
The program is based on simple science-based strategies that are proven to work by both science and thousands of user testimonials. This stuff simply works.
If you remember the list from the previous chapter, Burn the Fat has all the requirements of an effective fat loss program covered:
The program has to have a dietary component that aims to create a caloric deficit
Check. Burn the Fat is based on creating a healthy caloric deficit to induce optimal fat loss while preserving muscle mass. The programs tell you exactly how to make sure you are in a healthy caloric deficit and provides all the necessary tools for doing this.
The program has to have a dietary component that aims to provide sufficient protein intake
Check. Burn the fat is designed with the principles of improving fat loss and improving body composition. It lays out the amounts of each macronutrient you need daily and provides simple tools to plan your meals.
The program needs to incorporate some form of resistance training to stave off muscle loss
Check. Resistance training is a big component of the program as it helps you increase and preserve muscle mass. The program tells you how to train optimally when burning fat and when building muscle.
The program can’t suggest an extreme caloric deficit to avoid muscle loss
Check. The program teaches you how to achieve a healthy caloric deficit for optimal fat loss and health. It doesn’t encourage extreme deficits and takes into account macronutrients and strength training, that further help to avoid muscle loss.
The program isn’t based on exercise, especially cardio
Check! This is a diet-first program. It also teaches you how important strength training is for maintaining muscle mass but diet is the most important thing for fat loss.
You should definitely get the online inner circle version of the program instead of the actual book as you will receive several bonuses and more up to date information.
The online program includes:
- Burn The Fat Body Transformation Program
- BONUS #1: Burn the Fat Essentials – The Fat-Burning Toolkit
- BONUS #2: Burn the Fat Meal Planner Software ($97 value)
- BONUS #3: Burn the Fat Recipes ($27 value)
- BONUS #4: Burn the Fat Body Fat Testing System (e-book) ($19 value)
- BONUS #5 SIX MONTHS of support in the Burn the Fat Inner Circle
- Burn The Fat Transformation Success Secrets library.
I truly think this is the best fat loss program on the market and the principles will work for seniors as well as proven by several testimonials by people in their 60s and 70s.
Getting on this program is probably the best thing you can do if you have had trouble with fat loss before as having a simple well laid out plan makes all the difference in succeeding.
Want to know the best part? It’s only fricking $57 single payment! If that not good value, I don’t know what is. It’s actually so good value that there’s nothing on the market that comes even close.
The program also offers an incredible 60-day money-back guarantee so you can try it out long enough to see some actual results before making up your mind about sticking with it. I promise you will like the results so much that you’d be willing to pay ten times the price at that point!
I was actually originally going to review and recommend several programs but I simply couldn’t find anything else than Burn the Fat, which is high quality enough for me to feel comfortable to recommend to you.
The program simply has superior bang for the buck as it contains everything you need to achieve a lean and healthy physique. This stuff, of course, works if you are just looking to lose a few pounds of fat instead of aiming for a bodybuilding contest.
The important thing to remember here is that weight loss programs only work if you actually apply the information. And do it correctly.
That’s why I want you to make a promise to yourself. If you decide to buy the program, stick to it! Read it thoroughly, understand the information and then apply it.
Weight loss is all about forming habits and it generally takes about two to three weeks of continuous effort to form a habit. After that, it gets easier and soon becomes second nature.
There is no use in half-assing things and applying for the program only now and then. I want you to get the best results you can, and if you don’t apply the program correctly, you will simply lose your money instead of losing your fat.
So make yourself and me a promise. Get the program, understand it and then stick to it! If you don’t understand something, ask the author! Or even ask me, I know something about fat loss too.
If you enjoyed this article, please subscribe to my newsletter, there’s a free strength training program in it for you. I might even write a fat loss program for my subscribers if I find the time. So bookmark my site and share the post in social media if you think your friends might benefit from it as well!
See you next time.