Keeping a Healthy Weight for Older Adults
As we grow older, we realize that our bodies respond differently to the things we’re used to doing. We can no longer stay up for that long. It’s harder to walk long distances. We aren’t as strong as we used to be.
One major change that manifests is a major change in our body’s composition. Older adults begin to lose muscle mass, lose bone density, and develop a slower metabolism. According to a study by Ki Kim in 2013, your body can only take fewer calories as you grow older and you gain weight faster. Excessive body weight and fat can adversely affect one’s health, especially as we get older.
To maintain a healthy weight, you need to eat less calories. Even for younger people, getting the right nutrients can be difficult when you’re trying to cut your calorie intake. You would need to focus on looking for “nutrient dense” foods. These help you meet your nutrient requirements while keeping your calorie count low.n
What is a Healthy Weight?
The definition of a healthy weight varies from person to person. Ask your healthcare provider what your ideal weight is at your age.
While most people perceive being overweight or obese as unhealthy, the same can be said
about being underweight. Adults under their ideal weight may not be having enough to eat, not enough nutrients, or are showing signs of illness or disease.
Extra weight may increase your risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and bone issues.
Two quick ways to test if you’re within a healthy weight:
- Body Mass Index (BMI) – a measure of weight in relation to height. While it fails to factor in body fat and muscle mass, a study published in RACGP notes that the optimal BMI for the elderly is 22 to 27.
- Waist Measurement – use a tape measure to take your waist circumference. The National Health, Lung, and Blood Institute shares that a measure of more than 35 inches for women or 40 inches for men indicates a higher risk for several health problems.
Eating for a Healthy Weight
Limit your intake of food with high calories but very little nutrients. Aging adults should avoid eating foods with added sugars, fats that are solid at room temperature, and refined grains. You would be better off eating healthy foods with complex sugars, whole grains, fat-free or low-fat dairy, lean proteins, seeds, and nuts.
If you’re an adult over 50 years old, your dietary needs would be different than from when you were younger. Consult with your doctor or a nutritionist dietician to find a plan that works best for you! Combine a healthy diet with regular exercise to maintain your ideal weight. You’ll thank yourself years from now as you continue to enjoy life to its fullest!