With age, humans experience a slowing of metabolism and a decrease in muscle mass. These changes can easily lead to unwanted weight gain if they’re not accompanied by a shift in eating patterns. It’s possible to lose weight in a safe and healthy way, no matter what your age is.
Check with your doctor first
Before making changes in your eating or exercise behavior, visit your doctor for the go-ahead, and be willing to listen to their ideas, too. Some medications have side effects that cause people to continue eating long after they have had an adequate meal. Your health care provider will want to review the medications you take and possibly change or adjust them. You also need to be sure your heart is healthy enough for aerobic exercise.
Going to the doctor when you aren’t sick may seem like a lot of trouble, but you can make it easier by seeing a doctor online. Online medical visits are often less expensive and you’ll save time since you don’t have to travel to the doctor’s office. There may be more flexibility in treatment options, and getting prescriptions filled quickly, too, with online medical care, so keep these options in mind when considering your next online doctor appointment.
Begin with small changes
Although many programs advertise quick and dramatic weight loss, the best way to lose weight is in a slow and sustainable manner. By making small changes, you can create new eating and exercise habits. Seniors need the same nutrients they have always needed, and in some cases, more nutrients, while the slowed-down metabolism that comes with age means fewer calories can be eaten without gaining weight. So devote some attention to the foods and drinks you consume that don’t add nutrients. These are called “empty calories” and should be the first to go. Using smaller plates will result in smaller portions, and fewer calories consumed. Aim for seven servings of fruits and vegetables each day, or for roughly half your plate to be filled with fruits and vegetables in a variety of colors — the brighter, the more nutritious.
Drink plenty of water
Seniors and all adults need about 64 ounces of water daily. Having a glass of water just before a meal can help you slow down calorie consumption. If you don’t enjoy plain water, you can add flavor with a slice of citrus fruit or a sprig of mint. Keep a water bottle handy and sip it throughout the day, particularly when exercising. While staying well hydrated is important for your general health, it can also help you put the brakes on mindless snacking.
Exercise is important
While you may not go to the gym every day, it’s possible to gradually add more movement to your life, which burns more calories and increases your rate of metabolism. Consider strength training, as well as gentle aerobic exercise. Strength training helps improve muscle tone and metabolic rate, and can be done at home with some small weights. Although you may not want to do high-impact exercise, movement is very important, so find some things that you enjoy and are willing to do four or five days a week. Walking, gardening, dancing, swimming and tai chi are often popular with seniors.
Select nutrient-dense foods
You may want to work with your doctor, nutritionist, or other healthcare professional to establish what foods can best meet your needs and keep you satisfied. Although it’s easy to say that you’ll give up certain foods, make sure your plan is sustainable. Try to focus on getting the nutrients you need with lean proteins, fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats. We all need some fats, and some are more healthy than others. Seek fat from avocados, olives, fish, nuts, and seeds. Plan your meals and snacks in advance, so the foods on hand are the ones you need. Healthy snacks may include popcorn made healthier with coconut oil, melons, berries, and other fruits, as well as yogurt smoothies.
Seniors who want to lose weight will need to focus on getting nutrient-dense foods rather than consuming empty calories, drinking plenty of water, and including exercise as part of their lifestyles. It‘s possible to lose weight and build muscle even into your nineties, so make your physical health a priority and make choices that serve you well.
For information and resources on living well into your senior years, check out Age Brilliantly, a community platform that can help with planning and decision-making for your golden years.