Top 5 tips to avoid weight gain as you age
Wouldn’t it be nice if one of the joys of aging included finally being able to forget about your weight and dine on whatever we like? Well, keep dreaming. Unfortunately, as you get older managing your weight can become more difficult because of changes happening in your body.
So if you feel like you are slowing down as you are getting older, it’s all part of how your body works. That’s why nutrition expert, Jaclyn Sprague, who practices on the campus of Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center says if you’re hoping to maintain your youth-like figure, you have to start making some changes to your diet.
“As we get older we become less active is small ways, but we don’t adjust our calorie intake and these extra calories add up over time,” she says. “Think of your lifestyle and how much it has changed in the last 10 to 15 years. Whether it’s changes in caring for young children, your income or profession, these can all lead to a less active lifestyle.”
Sprague says when you add inactivity to the fact that our metabolism slows down as we age, it can lead to extra unwanted pounds.
Metabolism is essentially the process your body performs to burn calories. Thus, when it slows down, so does your body’s ability to use as many calories as it once did.
Unused calories turn into extra pounds says Sprague. So she recommends people over age 35 take a closer look at their calorie intake to ensure they aren’t giving their bodies more calories than they can burn.
“I also recommend speaking with your doctor about a good exercise routine,” she says. “Checking with your doctor before you start any exercise program is always best because a doctor can factor in any health-related issues you need to consider before getting started.”
There is plenty of research that suggests regular physical activity can do wonders for your health, including helping to boost your memory, improve balance, and prevent depression among people over 65.
Additionally, Sprague says maintaining a healthy weight can help you ward off a host of health problems including:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
Your doctor or dietitian can also help you map out just how many calories you need to maintain your ideal weight. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, 2,200 calories is about right for most kids, teenage girls and active men and women. But women over age 50 who are inactive should get about 1,600 calories each day. And men over age 50 who are not very active, should get about 2,000.
If you are ready to make some healthy changes to help slow weight gain as you age, Sprague says “there are ways to fight back”:
- Eat at least three times per day.
- Get plenty of fiber, like leafy green vegetables, fruits and whole grains.
- Drink plenty of water and add weight-lifting to your exercise routine
- Dine on lean meats like chicken, turkey or fish to your meals as your main protein.
- Adjust your dairy with low-fat, non-fat cheese and skim or 1% milk instead of higher-fat, higher-calorie options.
For more health and nutrition tips and to get the latest scoop on the most popular fad diets, tune in to the next edition of AdvocateLive, featuring nutritionist, Jaclyn Sprague on Friday, April 5 at 11:30 a.m.
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health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.