Dieting As a Senior: What Every Older Adult Should Know
There are so many people today who are looking to start a new diet as a way to lose weight and feel a little better about themselves. Whether you are trying to lose those last five stubborn pounds, or are searching for a bigger transformation, dieting for weight loss can be hard. It can be even more difficult for seniors, who don’t have the same fast metabolism they once did to help them out.
Any senior who is looking to lose weight will want to keep a few tips in mind, as dieting after 60 can be slightly more complex, and seniors will want to make sure that they are staying safe and healthy as they attempt to lose weight.
The first and most important thing for seniors to remember is that, no matter what their age, the “golden rule” of weight loss is still the most important: you need to burn more calories than you eat or drink. This is the basic approach that will help you reach that weight loss goal. Here are a few other basic tips to keep in mind:
- Don’t forget to eat for nutrition. While it is important to watch your caloric intake, you should also be eating foods for their nutritional value. Limit empty calories like processed foods or sugars that have no nutritional value.
- Make sure to eat a lot of (real) and healthy foods. This includes fruits, veggies, whole grains, beans, low-fat or fat-free dairy, and lean meats and poultry.
- Avoid fad diets. These are often dangerous, straining on the body and deliver results that don’t.
- Add more protein to the diet. Seniors are at risk for losing muscle mass as they age—so diets should include a lot of protein, about one gram for every two pounds of body weight. Protein helps you feel fuller longer and avoids the sudden dip in blood glucose that leads to sugar cravings, which helps with weight loss. Great sources of protein include eggs, grass-fed beef, and salmon.
- Hydrate with water. While what you eat is important, so is what you drink. Seniors on average tend to be more dehydrated than younger adults, and a hydrated body will work better, perform as it should and help you burn off calories. Also drinking water instead of sugary or high-calorie liquids will also help keep your caloric intake down.
- Don’t forget to exercise. Exercise should always be part of any weight loss plan. Try to focus on building muscle mass with light weights or body weight—as all seniors need to build muscle as they age (because as we age, we tend to lose muscle mass). This is also a great way to burn calories. Walking briskly or even at a slower pace can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease in addition to burning calories.
Any senior who is considering starting a new diet, should always talk to their doctor first before making any drastic lifestyle changes. This is particularly important for any senior who is being treated for a health condition or taking any prescription medications.
- Kimberly Langdon M.D. is a retired, board-certified obstetrician/gynecologist with 19-years of clinical experience. She graduated from The Ohio State University College of Medicine earning Honors in many rotations. She then completed her OB/GYN residency program at The Ohio State University Medical Center, earning first-place for her senior research project and placed in the 98th percentile on the national exam for OB/GYN residents in the U.S..
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