As part of the natural aging process, the body’s metabolism starts to slow down as we get older and we lose muscle. Because we are burning fewer calories due to muscle loss, we have to either eat fewer calories with the same amount of exercise, or keep our eating the same amount and get more physical activity, or ideally a combination of both, to keep from gaining a lot of weight.
To change your eating habit, focus more on fresh fruits and vegetables. Most of them have few calories but are packed with good vitamins and minerals that we need to stay healthy. While that donut (or two) you have mid-morning with your coffee tastes great, it is most likely filled with saturated fat and sugar, both of which you should reduce as you age.
You can add in more exercise into your daily life by doing yoga or strength training; actually consider doing both. Yoga is a no impact physical exercise that is not only good for increasing joint flexibility and balance, but also keeps the mind sharp through meditation. Stiff joints and the increased propensity to fall as we get older are a major cause of broken bones in seniors. As we get older, it takes longer to heal after a break; some never do fully recover.
Strength or weight training helps keep you from losing more muscle mass and it can actually build muscle to replace some of what you already lost. And you burn extra calories at the same time. A win-win situation.
By the time we reach age 70, our muscle mass has went from 45% down to 27%, but what you may notice is you weigh the same (if you are lucky – you now have a higher number if you are not).
The problem is you can’t trust the scale to give you the whole picture. Even though the number on the scale may not have changed much, the pounds of muscle you lost were replaced by an increase of body fat.
The only way to get rid of it is to burn it off by eating healthy and exercising more.
But how do you know how much weight you should lose? By calculating your Body Mass Index or BMI. Start by:
• Weighing yourself first thing in the morning without clothes.
• Next measure your height in inches.
• Multiply your weight by 700
• Divide that answer by your height.
• Then divide it again by your height
The resulting number is your BMI. For example let’s use a 150 pound person 67 inches tall; the formula would look like this: weight*700/height/height=BMI or 150*700/67/67=23.39. A number between 18.5 and 24.9 is a healthy weight; 25 to 29.9 is overweight; 30 or more is obese.
As a starting point, lightly active men over age 50 should consume 2,000 to 2,600 calories per day; women 1,600 to 1,800. Because genetics, muscle mass, age and activity all affect the number of calories burned, you will have to tailor the calories you need to your own body.
Strive to lose about one pound per week. To do so you have to burn 3,500 more calories than you take in. This breaks down into a daily deficit of 500 calories. Through a combination of exercising more and eating fewer calories, it is not that hard to do.