T Nation

Fat Loss at 53+

Hey all,
I have posted here in the past and have been a regular lurker/reader. A lot of great info on this site.

The reason for this post is to find out if any of the older (50+) lifters/bodybuilders have any tips for fat loss over 50.
I’m near 54, stand 6’ tall, currently about 240 lbs. with 26% body fat as measured a couple weeks ago in the BodPod. I have a feeling the fat % is fairly accurate at this stage in my fat-loss game, based on how I look. Should put me around 200 or so pretty darn lean, which would be around the weight I competed at back in 1992.
I have suffered from testicular cancer a few years ago, lost the left testicle, and have total T levels at the very low end of normal (300 or so) and I am not on TRT.
I have not been tested lately, so I can’t comment on free T numbers.
My doctor did tell me that if he put me on TRT, I would lose 20 lbs. of body fat in no time, but he doesn’t recommend the treatment since I am generally healthy.
As a life-long natural lifter/bodybuilder, I still train consistently and carry some pretty dense muscle.
Current training regimen consists of full-body training 3-4 times per week, depending on intensity level of each workout.
I also include 30 mins low intensity stationary bike (like a 30 min brisk walk) each morning that I do not weight train, for about 2 hours total per week.
My biggest hurdle is fat loss at this point and I’ll be the first to admit that, while I GENERALLY eat clean, I can certainly tighten it up a bit.
I try to eat 4-5 meals a day, usually 4, with a total protein intake of about 200-240 grams per day.
Carbs and fat are in good proportions as well, from good quality sources.
Basically, I am just looking to hear if anyone has some tips for eating, calorie intake, etc., that might help me get the fat loss cranking away so I can once again take my short off! lol

Thanks in advance and I will try to answer any questions that may be asked of me to help clarify anything needed.


Figure out your TDEE and reduce that by a number that gets you to your goal - 500 calories a day will lose a pound a week. Once you have that target number, calculate your macros. Try to time carbs around work outs.

All basic stuff you probably already know. It will be more difficult because of the Low T. I have been on TRT for almost two years - game changer!

Good luck!


Myth man is right on. That is the path. Slow, steady, consistent… it always wins in the end.

Although if I was you I’d be jumping on the TRT, ESPECIALLY if your doctor is willing to write you a prescription. We older dudes have to fight so hard as it is, declining T levels just make everything that much harder. I see no issue with wanting to have T levels at the high end of normal.

Thanks for the replies!
I agree with both of you.
My training is very consistent but my nutritional intake needs to be more so.
I just hate counting calories but that may be the only way to get to that condition.
I also agree on the TRT, but my doc is hesitant because of the potential side effects that exist with the treatment. Both my urologist and radiologist recommend against TRT, and I’d love to try it, but I’m not sure I want to have to medicate myself for the rest of my life.
No offense meant to anyone on TRT, however.
I would like the results, and I know it would be a big help, along with a proper diet.
No easy answers, I guess.
Thanks again, guys.

We are the same age–Class of 1962, so to speak.

The most important thing to bear in mind is that leanness is a function of what you eat, not what you do. In other words, absent a Tour de France level of caloric output, you cannot hope to train away the fat. Put simply, you can’t out-train a bad diet. Put another way, abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym. (This ends the cliché-laden portion of my post.)

So, you need to eat less. There are several ways to approach this. At ~40# overweight, you can make significant progress by simply cleaning up your act–no calorie counting needed. Since counting calories is a PITA, I would suggest you go with this route initially. Eat clean(er) most days; allow yourself an occasional (=2-3x/month) splurge meal (not splurge day), and a significant portion of the 40# will fall off.

At some point, however, your weight loss is going to stall out. It is at this point that you’ll have a decision to make. Almost anyone can become un-fat by simply ‘watching what they eat.’ But getting lean almost always requires calorie-counting. So your decision will be to either live at the fat level you reached by simply eating cleaner, or to take the plunge and start calorie counting. Note that I’m not advocating for one decision over the other; it’s entirely a matter of personal goals/priorities.

Assuming you decide to start calorie-counting, there are several strategies that can be employed. They all work, but for a given individual some will work better than others (usually for psychological reasons). If you get to a point where you decide you want/need to calorie-count, I’ll be happy to share my thoughts about each.

As for whether to pursue TRT, I have to say I think your hesitancy is well-founded and prudent. The fact is, the long-term risks of supplemental testosterone are unknown at this time. My T levels are not quite as low as yours (I’m in the mid-400s). But like you, I am not clinically hypogonadal (ie, not having symptoms attributable to low T). For this reason, I have decided the cost/benefit ratio is simply not favorable to treatment.

Two things - try MyFitnessPal for tracking calories and macros (it’s a phone app.

Also, [quote=“bboch, post:4, topic:217847”]
my doc is hesitant because of the potential side effects

What side effects? I have none. Most have none.

I appreciate the cliche-laden portion!
Words I’ve heard and read all my life! lol
I agree and have tried to simply “clean up” my food intake, but I need to work on re-directing my desires for food from a pleasure-oriented to progress-oriented focus.
I have been known to have a cheat meal (or ten) during a typical month, and your recommendation to cut out all “splurge” meals except for only a couple each month makes sense to me, considering I am every one of those 40 lbs. out of shape.
I’ll tighten it up and let you know how I progress over the next month or so.
Well-said response about TRT, I am generally of the same mind.

Both doctors site thickening of blood, possible additional cancer triggers, and other possible side effects (can’t remember at this point) that may occur with TRT.
As EyeDentist stated, the long term effects are not fully known, and I am still staying solid, and strength and mass are increasing, so I have not yet made the decision to pursue TRT as a treatment.
Of course, I know guys that have been self-administering for years and years and they’re still around with no problems to my knowledge, but that doesn’t mean there are no potential ill effects.
Trust me, I consider it all the time. lol

Thanks for your input!

Here is a question.
Now that you guys are lean, how difficult is it to stay lean at this age?
Just curious about your experiences.

Just so you know, thickening of blood refers to an increase in hematocrit that is solved by donating blood once a year. “Additional cancer triggers” is just too vague to address. TRT is not advised for those suffering from prostate cancer, but hasn’t been found to cause or exacerbate it, I believe. It is recommended that you get a baseline PSA and have it monitored while on TRT, but that’s all. Modern TRT has been around since 1945, so there is seventy years of history.

That being said, @EyeDentist gave solid counsel, and I totally respect your decision with respect to TRT. I would just encourage you to read the stickies in that forum so you are making an informed decision rather than acting on what many uninformed doctors repeat.

Again, good luck!

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For me, it takes constant vigilance. I still have to track virtually every calorie. Staying lean is definitely not as hard as getting lean in the first place, but it’s not far behind.

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I hear you.
My doctors are definitely taking a very conservative approach but I understand their desire for me to try to reach my goals without any treatment.
I have read the stickies to some extent and will continue to gather a better understanding. Trust me, I am slightly chomping at the bit to go that way, and I am sure I could find a doctor to work with me.
Who knows, perhaps I will reach out to more amenable healthcare professionals.
As I have said, it definitely interests me but it is a big decision to make.

Thanks again for your help.

That’s what I thought, no free lunch once I get there.
Thanks for the info and if I do decide to start counting calories, I’ll reach out to you when I get to that point.

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Re T levels–it’s worth noting that, for various metabolic/endocrinologic reasons, bodyfat is causally associated with decreased levels of circulating/bioavailable testosterone. (It’s probably fair to say there are many more men who have low T because they are fat than are fat because they have low T.) My point being, once you lose the 40#, there is a high likelihood your natural T level will increase in response.


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That’s what I have read, and I believe it may have been on this very site, if I am not mistaken. I agree with your point. That’s why i’m kind of excited to see what happens over the next few months or so.

Brian - I am same age 53. I suspect I have low T but havent done anything specific to look into it. In the last several years I have had some weight loss success of about 25 pounds, some of which I have put back in muscle. For some reason I can never lose that damn gut…!.. The things I did for success, mostly repeating else that has been said - 1) keep the calories under the usage. I took my base BMR of 1900 (google it) and added calories burned and made sure I ate less (i saw a 500 calorie deficit mentioned, that should see good action). Counting the calories is key for awhile, after a couple months it will be second nature and you wont have to track anymore. There’s a good calorie identifier online I think it was from the Dept of Health. 2) Add some higher intensity cardio work after your work out along your daily walking. My success and maintenance has come with running stairs and sprinting at the local stadium once a week in addition to 4 workouts a week with the cardio and 5 one hour walks a week.
3) Keep to mostly a high protein low carb diet. Recommendations up to 2g protein per pound of body weight, make sure you keep fat in for satiety (add some olive oil etc). I also used casein protein at bed time to keep from starving to death. If you do this diet make sure you reset your metabolism once a week eating higher carbs on Saturday. This resets your metabolism which can start slowing down based on high protein low calories (the main reason why people hit plateaus)
As far as maintenance, I have been able to maintain a pretty stable body weight by keeping up a maintenance program of cardio as per above without watching too carefully the calories. If you need to let off cardio, back off cals accordingly.
I have to say some weeks its really hard to grind out the cardio each year that passes! I figure if I dont keep healthy though I will develop worse probs. Grinding out is better than the alternative, exercise the fountain of youth…
Hope this helps.

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I appreciate the input.
I have cleaned up my nutritional intake the last 2 weeks or so and have seen some positive results.
I’m trying to keep the calories up to some extent, with protein a priority as mentioned. I actually lost a couple lb’s this past week just tightening it up a bit more than usual, while staying full and strong. It is crazy how much influence food intake has on body composition.
I’ll also keep hitting the cardio as well.
I seem to get a great overall body pump when I ride moderately for 30 min’s or so.