Healthcare provider discussing whether weight loss gets harder with age

Does weight loss get harder with age?

Written on February 6, 2023 by Theresa Vuskovich, DMD. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.

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Losing weight at any age is a challenge. However, losing weight as you age may feel even more daunting. As you age, incorporating healthy lifestyle changes becomes more challenging due to work and family commitments. Additionally, your body composition, disease risk, hormones, and sleep patterns change as you age. The good news is you can still lose weight as you age despite the additional challenges you face. If you’ve been wondering, “Does weight loss get harder with age?” this article will teach you how to modify several factors to help you lose weight.


The demands of work and family increase as you age, making it harder to balance your health and responsibilities. Losing weight at any age requires determination and consistency. As you age, weight loss doesn't have to become harder. Your self-efficacy, or your belief in your ability to make a change, increases with age. Having high self-efficacy makes you more likely to adhere to a weight loss program [1].

Recent research suggests that lifestyle modification can lead to weight loss regardless of age [2]. In a hospital-based weight loss program, seniors managed to lose weight despite their medical conditions [2]. The results indicate you can lose weight as you get older if you effectively make lifestyle changes to promote weight loss.

The American Heart Association (AHA) and the American Diabetes Association (ADA) advocate an intentional approach to eating and exercise [3,4]. The AHA and the ADA recommend these lifestyle habits to remain healthy:

  • Participating in 90–150 min/wk of aerobic exercise
  • Engaging in 90–150 min/wk of isometric resistance exercise
  • Drinking alcohol in moderation (two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women)
  • Eating a healthy diet with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products.

Body composition

As you age, your fat-free mass declines [5]. Your fat-free mass determines your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE), which estimates how many calories you burn during the day. Your TDEE can influence your ability to maintain a healthy weight.

Maintaining your TDEE requires daily movement, a healthy diet, and strength training [7]. Your muscle mass peaks at 30 to 35 years and then slowly declines [7]. You can maintain lean tissue and decrease fat mass by adding exercise to your diet [7]. As a result, your body will burn more calories and functions more effectively.

You can maintain a healthy body composition by incorporating the following into your routine [6]:

  • Adding strength training into your exercise routine
  • Incorporating movement into your everyday routine
  • Stretching each day for 15 to 20 minutes
  • Taking part in mindfulness and balance exercises, such as tai chi and yoga

Medical conditions

An estimated 86% of older Americans have one health issue [8]. Chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes can complicate your ability to lose weight. Discussing diet and exercise changes with your healthcare provider is important when you have a medical condition. You can lose weight even if you have a medical condition as long as you follow a weight loss program [2].


Your thyroid health contributes to your metabolism and your ability to lose weight [9]. T3 and T4 are the thyroid hormones responsible for regulating the rate at which every cell in the body uses energy. As you age, your thyroid hormone levels can change [9]. Understanding your thyroid health is easy with Everlywell's at-home Thyroid Test.

If your thyroid hormone levels are low, losing weight may become more challenging. Talk to your healthcare provider about medication to enhance your thyroid levels if you have sluggish thyroid symptoms, such as loss of energy, dry skin, brittle hair, and cold intolerance.

Sleep quality

Your sleep quality can deteriorate as you age due to changes in your hormones or lifestyle [10,12]. Poor sleep can increase your risk of developing some medical conditions and make weight management more difficult [10,12,13]. Using Everlywell's at-home Sleep and Stress Test, you can discover how your hormones affect your sleep.

Lack of sleep makes you more likely to snack throughout the day and less likely to exercise [13]. Exercising helps you maintain your weight and can enhance your sleep quality. Research shows exercise promotes a better night's sleep for older adults [12]. Here are some tips for establishing healthy sleep habits [11]:

  • Staying consistent with your sleep schedule
  • Creating a relaxing bedtime routine
  • Turning off electronics 30 minutes before bedtime
  • Avoiding large meals before bedtime
  • Maintaining a healthy diet
  • Exercising regularly
  • Avoiding alcohol before bedtime

Weight loss doesn't have to get harder as you age. You can lose weight by maintaining healthy lifestyle habits and seeking help when necessary. Virtual healthcare and at-home lab tests have made it easier than ever to achieve your weight loss goals.

Everlywell provides access to online weight management services

Everlywell offers access to virtual weight loss management via telehealth. You will discuss your weight loss goals and medical history with a healthcare provider online. Besides lifestyle recommendations, prescription weight loss medications are sometimes part of your care plan. Access to virtual care via Everlywell simplifies weight management.

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  2. Leyden, E., Hanson, P., Halder, L., Rout, L., Cherry, I., Shuttlewood, E., Poole, D., Loveder, M., Abraham, J., Kyrou, I., Randeva, H.S., Lam, F., Menon, V., Barber, T.M., 2021. Older age does not influence the success of weight loss through the implementation of lifestyle modification. Clinical Endocrinology 94, 204–209.. doi:10.1111/cen.14354. URL.
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