If you scour the internet there is quite literally millions of articles that give you the “next big thing” that is going to help you lose weight. These are often targeted towards people in their 20s-50s and can range from detoxes, to intense programs to huge calorie cuts.
But what happens as we get into our 60s and better? Do the rules stay the same?
They do and don’t. There are some things we need to consider.
First off, holding onto extra pounds puts us at a bigger risk of a lot of health issues. These range from diabetes to several types of cancer. We also end up needing to see the doctor more often for aches, pains or sickness.
But let’s be serious… the biggest reason we usually want to lose weight is that we have this goal. It can be a dress, that our son or grandson is getting married, or a recent health scare that gives us the kick in the butt we need to start putting a little bit more attention to our health.
So if you’re in your 60’s, 70’s or 80’s and are trying to lose weight, here are 4 considerations for you before you get started
1. As we get older, we’re more likely to lose muscle. As we lose weight, we’re also more likely to lose muscle. What we don’t want as we’re losing weight is to lose muscle along with it. People on a calorie restriction lose about 75% of their weight from fat but that leaves the last 25% to come from somewhere else and that can be muscle!
What to do about it: Add in exercise! Especially weights to make sure you keep those muscles strong and healthy!
2. Being too low on calories can make us feel tired. Our metabolic rate goes down as we get older so we don’t need as many calories as we did before (you probably could watch a son of yours eat thousands and thousands of calories and think “I put on 10 pounds just THINKING about it!”). That being said, slashing calories too much doesn’t let us feel good so we want to lower them by only a couple hundred calories
What to do about it: We want to lower our calories only by about 500/day. This is a slower process of weight loss but WAY more beneficial in the long hall. Plus, then we aren’t starving all day! Make sure you keep your protein up too! Over 60? You want to have at least 1.0-1.6 g per kg of protein and spread that out throughout the day.
3. How quickly we drop weight can have a lot of factors. Medications that we are on for example can effect our body’s ability to lose weight. Talking with your doctor or pharmacist to know what to expect based on the meds you’re on will be important.
What to do about it: Talk with your pharmacist. Knowing how your medications effect you sets you up for success and not make you disappointed if the weight doesn’t come off as quickly as you would like!
4. Losing weight without trying can be a sign of something more. There’s a difference between watching your weight to drop a few pounds and losing weight without any changes. If this is you, you might want to check in with your doctor. Could be nothing but you always want to be careful.
What to do about it: Check in with the doc! He’ll make sure everything is alright.
If you’re unsure about what to do, it’s never a bad idea to check in with your doctor or hire a coach to give you some accountability and advice. If you have aches and pains that you’re concerned about, physiotherapy could be a starting route. For me, my fiancé keeps me on track and it’s something we do together (though sometimes it leads to more problems if it’s your significant other being your accountability!).
Gill, L. E., Bartels, S. J., & Batsis, J. A. (2015). Weight management in older adults. Current Obesity Reports, 4(3), 379-388. doi:10.1007/s13679-015-0161-z [doi]