If you are 60 or more, overweight, and you tried once or twice to lose some weight, you certainly know how difficult it is. At this age our body already works on a slower metabolism, not to mention the different medical conditions that may be of great impact on our exercising attempts. Knee-, joint-, hip-, back pain and certain age-related medical conditions-these all can stop us from working out the way we’d like to, or we used to.
Overweight After 60-Is It Still Possible to Shred the Pounds?
Yes, it is! Weight loss at old age might be harder than at earlier stages of life, but it is certainly not impossible. However, you may need to implement more changes into your overall lifestyle.
We all need to understand our body, so we can work with it towards our goal to lose weight.
But, let’s focus on our eating first. Our body, when it comes to energy, basically functions similar to a car battery. It uses up only the necessary amount and accumulates the left-over energy (the fuel, i.e. food) for the time when it will be needed. It prepares to survive the periods of lack of food, storing reserves. That’s how we put weight on.
Later on, either when it’s needed, and when the body feels there is enough food supply, it will release energy, if needed even from the storage. That’s how we lose weight.
So, eating much less and moving much more is the key? Well, yes and no. If you overdo with cutting back on your eating, your metabolism is going to slow down even more, as your body switch into a surviving mode, preserving every bit of energy it can for later and you end up not losing any weight. As a matter of fact, you should eat
The opposite then? Eating much more, tricking our body into a state of abundance, so it starts to release energy from reserves? Not quite that one, either.
So, How to Lose Weight After 60 Then, the Right Way?
First, understand types of food you eat and need to eat in order to maintain a healthy nutrition
Carbohydrates, proteins, fat, vitamins, minerals… Carbs are bad-that’s what we often hear, but, it’s them who provide energy, especially for the brain and the nervous system. They also are the fire on which your stored fat will burn. It is extremely important however which of the two types of carbs you eat. Simple carbs (sugar, corn syrup, fructose, fruit juice…) are broken down by enzymes quickly, causing an instant energy surplus, which will then be stored as a reserve, in form of fat.
Complex carbs (fiber as fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, whole grains and starch as cereal without added sugar, whole wheat bread, brown rice, oats, peas, corn…) on the other hand are being broken slowly, providing a more steady supply of energy. This way it is being more used up than stored and you will burn calories more efficiently. Your goal is to keep your blood sugar levels steady throughout the day. You can always check the glycemic index of fruits and veggies and choose those with lower index.
Proteins: Besides fat and water, your body is made up almost entirely of protein, as it is the main component of muscles, bones, organs, skin, nails… The consumed protein is broke down into amino acids, which are used to build muscles and organs, to make hormones and antibodies, to be stored as fat, and to be burned as energy. Without an adequate protein intake, your body will break down existing muscle tissue and use it for energy, so you can’t maintain muscle mass while losing weight and can’t keep your metabolism running at full speed.
You should aim to have lean protein in every meal, to keep your hunger under control and maintain and build the lean muscle mass for a healthy weight loss. The reason why you should be very careful with proteins high in saturated fat (beef, pork, bacon, fatty meat, lamb, processed meat products, cheese, whole milk, creams, lard, butter…) is that excess protein will also be stored into body fat just as easily as most carbohydrates. Still, at this age you should be eating 0.35oz (10 grams) of protein for every 22 pounds (10kg) of your weight.
You’ll want to choose proteins low in saturated fat (poultry-deskinned, oily fish, nuts, avocado, beans, tofu and soy in general, low- or fat-free dairy products, canola oil, olive oil, sesame oil, peanut oil and butter…) These are higher in mono- and polyunsaturated, healthy fat. You do not want to completely cut out fat, as they are still of essential importance to your health, helping some of your body’s functions. You just here as well need to choose the right, healthy type to replace by them the unhealthy ones you might have been eating so far.
Essential fat, i.e. essential fatty acids, as their name says are essential for the body to function, but, our body can’t produce them, so it is essential that we consume them regularly. Omega 3, omega 6, and omega 9 fatty acids can be found in fish and shellfish, flax seed and its oil, olive oil, soy oil, canola oil, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, leafy vegetables, walnuts…
Water, as you know, makes around 60% of your body. It is literally everywhere, in each and every cell, helps regulate the body temperature, helps with digestion, keeps the body tissues moist, protect the spinal cord, and it acts as a lubricant and cushion for the joints, helps to flush out waste, lowers your appetite, is inevitable for burning off fat from food and drink intake, as well as from stored fat. So, whether just trying to balance your diet, or trying to lose weight (and especially then), you’ll want to have an adequate water (liquid) intake at all times. How much is that? Opinions slightly defer on that, but if you keep it around 0.033 l per kg of your body weight, you’ll be OK. If your weight is 80 kg, you’ll want to have 2.64 l of fluid intake per day. If you are exercising, this quantity should rise according to the intensity of your exercise.
Minerals and vitamins are equally important, whether you try to lose weight or not. At older age even more. According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation, Osteoporosis is estimated to affect 200 million women worldwide – approximately one-tenth of women aged 60, one-fifth of women aged 70, two-fifths of women aged 80 and two-thirds of women aged 90. Worldwide, osteoporosis causes more than 8.9 million fractures annually, resulting in an osteoporotic fracture every 3 seconds. Another estimation is that 1 in 3 women over the age of 50 years and 1 in 5 men will experience osteoporotic fractures in their lifetime. So, no wonder we emphasize the importance to include calcium, i.e. dairy products, sardines, green leafy vegetables (such as broccoli, cabbage and spinach), soy beans and tofu to help your body maintain bone density.
Another important element is iron, which is important because your body needs it to make the protein hemoglobin. Without hemoglobin your red blood cells can’t carry oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body. A good source of iron are broccoli, spinach, kale, turnip greens, collards, potatoes with the skin, mushrooms, legumes, concentrated tomato, dried apricots, dried figs, raisins, prunes, and prune juice, nuts…
Vitamin D is an essential vitamin for everyone, to help develop and maintain healthy bones, teeth and muscles. Unfortunately, as we age, our body is less and less capable of producing it, even if we spend time out in the sun. Some food will contain small amounts of vitamin D, like fresh and tinned oily fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines…), eggs and meat. However, our needs are usually greater than that, so, the best you can do is choose a supplement with 10 micro grams of vitamin D, at least for the non-summer months, when we can’t possibly be exposed to sun of adequate intensity.
Hopefully, you are by now equipped with enough knowledge to start planning your meals. As of the size of your portions, the recommended number of servings you should have:
- 1 slice of bread, preferably whole grain
- 1 small to medium-sized potato
- 1/2 small to medium-sized sweet potato
- 3 tbsp of cooked brown rice, or whole wheat pasta
-Five or more servings:
- 1 slice of large fruit (melon, pineapple…)
- Half of a big sized fruit (grapefruit, avocado…)
- 1 medium-sized piece of fruit ( apple, small banana, pear, orange…) OR
- 2 small sized fruits ( 2 kiwis, 2 apricots, 2 plums…)
- 1 cup (250ml) of grapes, cherries or berries
- ~80g (3 heaped tablespoons) of cooked fruit or vegetables
- 20g of dried fruit
- as much as you like of fresh green vegetables
- 1/3 pint (200ml) of milk, low fat
- half a cup (125 ml) of yogurt, preferably Greek style, low fat
- one third cup (80 g) low fat cottage cheese
- 1 oz (30g) of lower fat mature cheese
- 3/4 cup of milky pudding (custard, rice pudding, semolina, tapioca…) Remember to keep your sugar intake very low-include these rarely, better cook pudding yourself and use Stevia as a sweetener.
- Meat and poultry: 2–3oz (60–90g) of meat, cooked
- Fish: 4 oz (120g) of cooked fish
- Eggs: 2 eggs (120g)
- Lentils: 2oz (60g) raw
- Pulses, beans: 3–4oz (90–120g)
- Nuts: 2oz (60g) of unsalted nuts
- Nut butters, oils: 1oz (30g) peanut-, almond butter, olive oil….
Now that we understand the basics of a healthy nutrition, it’s left to say metabolism at our 60s is a lot slower, so you can’t afford to have very long breaks between meals, otherwise it will slow down even more and, instead of losing weight, you’ll end up gaining it. It certainly does not mean you should eat constantly throughout the day, but also shouldn’t exceed much the 3-hour break, nutritionists say. You shouldn’t delay the morning breakfast for longer than about an hour after getting up. And you should have your coffee only after breakfast. The best schedule is to have your lunch at the middle of your day, two and a half-three hours earlier and later a snack, two and a half-three hours earlier and later breakfast and dinner, so that you have three plus two eating
We All Want to Lose Weight Fast-But Is It the Best Approach?
We all kind of know losing weight fast is not the healthiest way of doing it, but, still, most of us want it. It might have been an option at our 20s or 30s, but at our 60s, unless you are a professional athlete, the likelihood is that it isn’t an option anymore. Your goal, anyway, should be a quality eating and quality moving and then the weight should gradually come off.
Combining physical activity and a healthy diet is the best way to lose weight and maintain it on a healthy level, at any age and especially at an older age. If you have not been regularly working out for a long time, but starting it now, after a considerable pause or ever at all, it is wise to ask your doctor for an opinion on it. He might provide you with some very good advice on how to start, considering your health issues, if any. If not, it is still better to start slowly, best by walking, not too long distances. Maybe two-three sequences of 10-15 minutes per day. You can add a few more minutes or a couple of steps every day. As you gain strength you will be able to add exercising to your routine walking.
You can replace walking by swimming, consider running if you are fit enough, rowing, biking, or using an elliptical machine. When you can already walk the famous 10000 steps without greater discomfort (or equivalent in other activities), you will be able to perform some exercises, as well. You may designate days for walking and interchangeably days for exercise. Also, you need a day of rest, when your body can recover. Be sure to include some strength training also, twice a week. This is to build up your muscle mass, which deteriorates with age, and, very important, to improve bones density.
In short, all you have to do to be on the right path for losing weight after 60 are basically some changes which you should gradually introduce, so that you do not feel them as a punishment, but a slight adjustment. That said, you should still feel a medium level of discomfort while working out. That way you know it is working.
A Few More Advice on Changes to Be Introduced to Your Diet
- Pack your plate half with veggies, a quarter with proteins and a quarter with starchy food.
- Aim for at least five portions of different-colored fruit and vegetables each day, fresh, frozen or canned (without added sugar). A portion is roughly the amount you can fit in the palm of your hand.
- Do not cut out fat! They are important for your body and for you to feel less hunger and cravings. Do replace, however, solid fat with unsaturated oils when cooking and keep it in small quantities.
- Whenever you can, replace red fatty meat with white, lean and try to fry less it, but broil or grill more. Beans, peas and lentils are good alternatives to meat, as they’re very low in fat, but high in fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals.
- Include twice a week fish into your diet, one of those salmon or mackerel.
- Try to cut back salt, to no more than 6g per day. Use more pepper, herbs and spices instead.
- Do not forget that milk and dairy products are important sources of calcium for your bones, vitamins A, D and B12, protein and fat, too. Consume them regularly, but go for the non- or at least low-fat dairy products instead of full-fat versions.
- Try to determine in advance the amount you’ll eat. Eating from a casserole for 5 can mislead you in the size of one portion.
- Avoid all kinds of sugary drinks, sodas, concentrated juices and alcoholic drinks as much as it is possible.
- Avoid unnecessary nibbling between meals.
- Keep track of your water intake.
A Few Tips to Help Your Weight Loss Even If Not Exactly Dieting
- Try parking farther away from wherever you go to burn a few extra calories.
- Choose stairs over the elevator.
- Introduce a food diary for the first period, where you’ll write down everything you ate. You’ll be surprised.
- Enjoy a good dance to your music.
- Invite a friend for a walk through the park, instead of talking by phone.
- Or walk while talking on the phone.
- Stop eating in front of the TV.
- Use the commercial break to stand up, stretch and get out to the kitchen for another glass of water.
- Get rid of ready bought snacks and make your own from veggies and fruits.
- Try using a smaller plate with your smaller portions. You’ll have a feeling of having more.
- Stop wearing shapeless, baggie clothes and aim for well-tailored ones. You’ll feel better.
So, finally, that’s my vision on how to best lose weight after 60.
If you have different experience or have some questions, I’d love to read about it in the comments and help you out with answers.When you buy something from this website, I may receive an affiliate commission, at no extra cost to you. Full disclosure here