According to research in the World Journal of Men’s Health, aging slows down resting metabolism, resulting in physiological and functional impairments (8) (15). It is also related to alterations in body composition, including reduced skeletal muscle mass and increased body fat that may make you look older than your actual age. You, therefore, need to find a way to deal with excess weight since losing weight after 70 years not only makes you look younger and feel stronger, but also prevents weight-related issues such as obesity, which is associated with several health problems, including hypertension, cancer, hyperlipidemia, osteoarthritis, diabetes, sleep apnea, and cognitive dysfunction (19).
While old age comes as a blessing, there are several reasons to monitor your weight and keep as healthy as possible. Physical activity and proper dieting are the most commonly recommended weight management methods and should be combined for best results. For instance, your trainer may try to teach you how to lose weight at 70 by exercising alone and not mention appropriate foods to consume or those to avoid. Similarly, a dietician may not be able to show you how to build an age-appropriate exercise routine. These two weight management methods are two sides of the same coin. Diet and exercise must also be centered around the patient’s needs to work effectively.
Is losing weight after 70 unhealthy? Not always. Too much weight can be unhealthy as it is a risk to your health, which means you should engage in an activity that reduces it to a manageable level.
Comprehensive Guide On Losing Weight After 70 Years
Is losing weight after 70 years too late? No. It is never too late to lose excess weight. It may be more difficult to lose a considerable amount of weight because naturally, hormones and metabolic rate will have slowed down, but it is not impossible to shed a reasonable amount of extra pounds. One research study shows that the population of aging people in the U.S. is expected to be more than double by 2050, and that there will also be a high prevalence of those who are both elderly and obese (9). You can slowly incorporate a healthy lifestyle to avoid being overweight in the future, but if you are already 70, you may not have so much time, so begin your weight loss journey today.
Although losing weight after 70 years old may be difficult, living a healthy lifestyle may increase your range of longevity by reducing excess fat in your body. A recent study on JAMA Network Open reveals that getting into a weight loss program early in adulthood may lead to a 50% reduction in the subsequent risk of early death (2). With that said, what is the best way to lose weight at 70?
Healthy Habits To Lose Weight After 70
In old age, weight gain occurs due to several reasons other than aging. For instance, lifestyle, eating habits, and lack of physical activity may cause you to add more pounds, so you have to cut out these habits for a healthier life. Have a workout routine and diet plan that is best suited to your needs, bearing in mind that your body is not the same as it was when you were younger. As you grow older, your bones and muscles are more delicate; therefore, too much weight loss, extreme exercise, and weight loss diets may not be the best way to lose weight for women and men over 70.
Dieting In Your 70s
Bad eating habits are one of the most common causes of weight gain at all ages. Generally, people need to reduce calories every day to lose weight. The best diet for women and men trying to lose weight at 70 differs from that of the youths because as one grows older, the metabolism reduces, partly due to a significant drop in levels of testosterone human growth hormone (HGH) – which is responsible for a drastic loss of muscle mass (15). Secondly, you may have more time to eat in your old age as compared to youthful years, where most days were spent around sports, exercise, jobs, traveling, and activities. Here are some food-related changes that you can consider making:
Calculate Your Daily Caloric Needs
Calories are at the center of every weight loss plan. To get started with dieting, you need to understand what your body needs to function normally and what you need to maintain and lose weight. Remember, as you grow older, you need fewer calories because your body becomes less active, and your basal metabolic rate gradually drops (8).
Calculating caloric needs is a job best left to the experts, especially if you are new to weight loss since there are many variables that need to be considered. The National Institute on Aging provides the daily calorie intake for people with varying needs based on gender and activity level (4). Inactive women over 50, you need approximately 1600 calories per day. Moderately active and active women within the same age group need 1800 calories and 2000-2200 calories per day, respectively. Men, on the other hand, have different requirements. Physically inactive men aged 50 and above need about 2000 calories a day, while moderately active and very active men require (2,200–2,400 calories) and (2,400-2,800 calories) per day (4).
Reduce Your Refined Carb Intake
One of the biggest problems adults over 60 face is insulin resistance (1). Insulin is a hormone produced by the body to regulate blood sugar by telling the liver, fat cells, and muscle cells to take up more glucose whenever it is too high in the system (7). When these cells build up insulin resistance, they cannot do their job, and too much sugar builds in your bloodstream. Insulin resistance can be reduced by cutting down on certain types of carbohydrates, the body’s primary fuel source found in most foods and are easy to break down (5). Replacing refined carbs (like white bread, white pasta, and white rice) and added sugars with whole grain products, fruits, and vegetables can help with managing blood sugar, improve blood lipid levels, and help you lose weight.
A low-calorie diet may help accelerate your efforts, so you may want to eliminate or reduce empty calories from your diet. Minimize your alcohol intake, sugary granola bars, cookies, sweets, soda, and foods with excessive sugar additives.
Regularly Consume Protein
As you grow older, you lose muscle and bone mass (3). Things may get more challenging once you embark on a committed workout routine, making it necessary to have more protein-rich meals, which play an essential role in muscle building, especially after workouts (6). According to a study, adults between ages 52-75 built muscles best after eating 1.5 grams of protein for every kilogram of body weight every day (10). Dietitians recommend an intake between 1.2-1.7 grams per kilogram of body weight for muscle building which is about 109-154g for a 200-lb person (12). Some protein-rich foods include chicken, nonfat or low-fat milk, lentils, legumes, eggs, fish, poultry, and lean meat (8).
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Eat A Diet Rich In Fruits And Vegetables
Even in old age, you still need the same essential nutrients and vitamins you needed 50 years ago. However, getting such an amount may be difficult due to the reduction in appetite and metabolic rate. Vitamin D and protein are two of the most important nutrients you need the most, but other vitamins are equally essential.
It would be best to build a weight loss diet around fruits and vegetables because they are rich in fiber and water, which help cut weight. If chewing and swallowing high-fiber fruits sounds next to impossible, green smoothies are an excellent alternative that is easy to digest. Otherwise, you can try natural fruits, stewed, or fresh fruits and vegetables. Eat many different colours and types of vegetables and fruits (4).
Water is an essential part of every weight loss plan. Sometimes, thirst may disguise itself as hunger and trick you into eating when the body only needed water. As you grow older, it may get difficult to determine when you are thirsty or really hungry. According to expert opinion on WebMD, most people should drink at least 64 ounces of water each day (3). If getting water straight from the source does not fit your style, try eating foods with a substantial water composition, such as tomatoes, cucumbers, and watermelon, or healthy beverages such as decaffeinated beverages, fruit juices, nonfat or low-fat milk to stay hydrated (8). Your urine should be pale yellow or clear if you are taking enough water.
Pay Attention To What You Eat
Portion control helps a lot in your diet plan. Sadly, the human body is resistant to change, and you might find it difficult to alter some habits. People often keep eating the same way they used to in their 20s, 30s, and 40’s. As you grow older, tweaking your diet habit to fewer portions (e.g., from 2 scoops of ice cream to only one) should help reduce your calorie intake. Such small changes add up and contribute to healthy weight loss in the long run.
Consume mostly whole grains and “good” poly- and monounsaturated fats, like those obtained in nuts, seeds, avocados, and fatty fish like salmon. Limit your intake of saturated fat, which is found mainly in butter, beef fat, and palm, coconut, and palm kernel oils, and avoid trans fats found in processed foods such as baked goods, pizza, and margarine (4). Go for plant-based cooking oils such as olive or canola oils.
Do not starve yourself. Make healthy snack choices by avoiding those in the food groups that you are supposed to limit. Also, stress management may accelerate your weight loss efforts, considering that some people feel the urge to eat when stressed and end up making unhealthy food choices. You can join a stress management program or engage in other stress-relieving activities such as a few minutes of yoga or meditation.
Remember, fad diets are not the best answer for how to drop weight fast. There are several fad diets online, each promising unreasonable results. Although some may work, it would be best if you avoid them because the results are short-lived and they may be harmful to your health.
Exercising In Your 70s
Older adults have a knack for not frequently exercising for different reasons ranging from busy schedules to ill health. However, as much as exercising may get harder and harder with age, the NHS recommends that just like other age groups, older adults should engage in some physical activity every day (11).
Losing weight after 70 years old through exercise doesn’t need to be as tough as it sounds. You should aim to be physically active every day. Remember, any activity is better than none, and engaging even in light activity is beneficial (11). Simple activities such as getting up to make a cup of tea, cleaning and dusting, making the bed, moving around your home, walking at a slow pace, window shopping around the mall, going on a nature hike, cycling to the grocery and playing tennis all count as exercise for your body. You may also participate in more dedicated workout programs created by your trusted fitness expert as outlined below:
Cardio For Seniors
Seniors have a lot to gain from cardio as it strengthens the heart and lungs and reduces depression while giving you more energy for your daily activities, among other benefits (17). To get started with cardio, you need to choose an activity you enjoy, such as swimming, walking, or cycling, and you can follow through at a moderate or intense level (talk to your doctor about exactly what “moderate” and “intense” should look like for you). You may want to mix moderate and vigorous cardio exercises through the days of the week. For instance, engage in moderate cardio exercises for 30 minutes every day, 5 days a week, or vigorous cardio for at least 20 minutes a day for 5 days a week.
With cardio, jumping into high intensity may throw you off the program by draining too much energy too fast. Instead, start with a pace that feels comfortable before pushing to a higher intensity. This gives you a feel of the exercise and helps you build endurance over time.
Cardio burns many calories. Combined with a reduced-calorie diet, cardio works great for your weight loss diet. However, try not to compensate for the lost calories by eating more since this can slow down your weight loss efforts.
Whichever weight loss method you follow, it should always be accompanied by a resistance training program to preserve muscle mass (9). Resistance training works your muscles against a weight or force, keeping your muscles and bones strong. Fortunately, there are several forms of resistance training you can try out, such as resistance bands, free weights, weight machines, and of course, your own body weight.
If you are new to resistance training, begin by warming up your body with light exercises such as swimming, walking, a light jog, or cycling. Next, pick out 8-10 exercises for major muscle groups (13). Build up momentum, starting with 8 reps for each exercise and repeat for 2-3 sets.
While taking resistance training, it is important to remember that too much exercise may not be good for your body. Make sure you don’t overdo it and give your body time to rest and recover. Also, target all the muscle groups for an overall effect, not just specific areas.
Other Tips On Working Out For Older Adults
According to NHS, older adults should (11):
- Engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity weekly to increase your heart rate, make you breathe faster, and feel warmer. Such activities include water aerobics, riding a bike, brisk walking, dancing, doubles tennis, hiking, and pushing a lawnmower.
- If you are already active, you may do 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity weekly or combine moderate and vigorous activities to make you breathe hard and fast. You can convert your moderate-intensity activities to vigorous ones if you increase your effort. Activities here include jogging or running, swimming fast, aerobics, football, single tennis, riding a bike fast or on hills, energetic dancing, energetic dancing, and martial arts.
- Focus on activities that enhance strength, balance, and flexibility at least twice a week to make you stronger and more confident on your feet. Activities here include yoga, carrying heavy shopping bags, pilates, lifting weights, tai chi, working with resistance bands, push-ups and sit-ups, and digging or shovelling.
- Get your body busy by repurposing the time you formerly spent lying down, sitting, or not moving with some activity.
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Benefits Of Physical Activity In Old Age
People often underestimate the power of physical activity when it comes to a healthy lifestyle. Exercises help prevent non-communicable diseases, including stroke, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and a delay in the onset of dementia (16). Physical exercise can also be associated with an improved quality of life. For instance, it helps boost your brain function, boosts your mood and self-confidence, improves sleep quality, and much more. However, to enjoy such benefits, your workout routine needs to be well-structured. It needs to take into account the duration, intensity, and frequency of every exercise. Older people are advised to exercise slightly below the body’s capacity. This means that your physical activity shouldn’t feel too difficult or exhausting (16).
Sudden Weight Loss in Seniors
When would weight loss be of a concern? Old age may come with a sudden weight loss – a quick, unintentional weight loss that occurs in a significant percentage of aging individuals (18). This sudden weight loss in seniors is never a good sign, therefore a concern. It may signal an underlying health condition such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, Hyperthyroidism, depression, dementia, or gastrointestinal issues (14). Losing weight unexpectedly exposes your body to fatigue, higher risks of falls and injury, inability to perform daily activities, among other issues. If you are losing weight when you aren’t trying to, bring it to your doctor’s attention.
Several factors such as underlying medical conditions and nutritional concerns should be considered when finding the best way to lose weight at 70. Therefore, before trying the habits that will contribute to losing weight after 70 years, get a green light from your doctor and seek guidance from a nutritionist or personal trainer. Using every means at your disposal to do away with excess weight brings a load of benefits such as minimized orthopedic issues, better mental health, improved heart health, and longevity, among others, so you should definitely consider shedding those extra pounds in a healthy, sustainable manner.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Aging is an Inevitable Risk Factor for Insulin Resistance (2006, sciencedirect.com)
- Association of Weight Loss Between Early Adulthood and Midlife With All-Cause Mortality Risk in the US (2020, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Dieting After 60: 4 Things You Need to Know (2014, webmd.com)
- Healthy Eating After 50 (2019, order.nia.nih.gov)
- How Does Low Carb Work? (2019, diabetes.co.uk)
- How to Lose Weight in Your 70s and Beyond (2017, health.usnews.com)
- Insulin Resistance and Diabetes (2019, cdc.gov)
- Nutrition and Aging (2015, health.harvard.edu)
- Obesity in the Elderly (2018, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Older Adults: Double Your Protein Intake for Better Health (2015, health.usnews.com)
- Physical activity guidelines for older adults (2019, nhs.uk)
- PROTEIN INTAKE FOR OPTIMAL MUSCLE MAINTENANCE (2015, acsm.org)
- Resistance training – health benefits (n.d, betterhealth.vic.gov.au)
- Sudden Weight Loss in Seniors: A Dangerous Warning Sign You Shouldn’t Ignore(2020, aplaceformom.com)
- Testosterone and Sarcopenia (2018,ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- The Importance of Physical Activity Exercise among Older People (2018, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- The (Many) Benefits of a Cardio Workout (2020,health.clevelandclinic.org)
- Unintentional weight loss in older adults (2011, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Weight Management in Older Adults (2015, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)