Lose Weight Over 60
Men and women – young and old – are often looking for ways in which they can shed those extra pounds. However, when you are a little bit older, your body, muscles, and even your metabolism does not work the same. So what is the best way to lose weight over 60 and do it safely?
Over 60 Lose Weight: Where To Start
Most people choose to lose weight for different reasons. Some people lose weight for health reasons, while others do it because they would like to love what they see in the mirror. Before you chose to lose weight, here are some things that you should take into consideration:
- Age – What worked for you when you were younger, or what works for your children might stop working for you once you hit the big six-oh. Factors like a slower metabolism, health issues that affect older people, and even overall strength should be considered.
- Determine your ideal weight – Before embarking on a weight loss journey, you must first learn how much you weigh and how much you would like to weigh eventually. This gives you a scale by which you can gauge your progress and celebrate every time you are closer to your goal.
- Weight loss plan – This is a very important factor. As we have discussed above, older age comes with a slew of problems. In light of this, it is even more essential for you to find a plan that is safe for you. This means that you must first visit your doctor and seek advice.
Outline any health issues you may have, explain that you would like to lose weight and ask your doctor to help you decide how best to approach fitness and diet in order to accomplish this.
Read More: Balance Exercises For Seniors: Simple Moves To Help Improve Balance And Coordination In Older Adults
Risks Overweight/Obese Men And Women Over 60 Face
Being obese or overweight is not good for you no matter how old you are. However, the risks of obesity in the elderly include:
- High cholesterol
- Heart diseases (heart attacks and stroke)
- Certain cancers – There are 13 types of cancers that are associated with being overweight or obese. They include meningioma, multiple myeloma, adenocarcinoma of the esophagus, and cancers of the thyroid, postmenopausal breast, gallbladder, stomach, liver, pancreas, kidney, ovaries, uterus, colon and rectum (5).
- Functional cognitive impairments such as – Issues with memory, problem-solving, attention, and reading, linguistic, and verbal comprehension.
- Musculoskeletal diseases may develop causing pain during walking or jogging. Eventually this may lead to mobility disabilities (17).
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Over 60 Diet Lose Weight: What Should I Eat?
Before knowing what you need to eat to lose weight over 60, you first need to know how much you need to be consuming each day. Most weight gain is caused by eating more calories than we burn, and thus, the first and most important rule of weight loss is always to burn more calories than you consume.
How do you know how much to eat? This is mostly determined by your age and level of physical activity (8). For men over 60 to maintain their weight you shall eat as follows:
- Sedentary lifestyle (little to no movement a day) – 2,000 cals
- Moderately active – 2,200 to 2,400 cals
- Very active – 2,400 to 2,800 cals
For men over 60 to lose weight they can cut about 500 calories from their meals and eat 1,500, 1,700 and 1,900 calories a day, respectively. On the other hand, for older women to maintain their weight they need:
- 1,600 calories for a sedentary lifestyle
- 1,800 calories – Moderately active
- 2,000 to 2,000 cals – Active lifestyle
By cutting about 500 calories, women over 60 lose weight by consuming 1,100, 1,300 and 1,500 calories a day, respectively. It should be noted that women generally should not consume less than 1,200 calories a day (27), thus, if you live a sedentary lifestyle, try to increase your level of physical activity so that you can eat more.
If not, opt to cut just 400 calories from your meals. Remember that these are only estimates and not set numbers. Calorie restriction in older people requires more research (3), so before you change the amount you eat, speak to a doctor or certified nutritionist.
What Should I Eat To Lose Weight Over 60?
When it comes to dieting, the rules are the same across the board. In spite of your age, whole foods are encouraged over processed meals. Some great examples are as follows:
- Leafy greens – Kale, spinach, cabbage, collard greens, Swiss chard, romaine lettuce, bok choy and arugula. They contain numerous nutrients such as vitamin A, K, and C, magnesium, antioxidants, fiber, folate, calcium, iron and potassium (12).
- Fruits – Such as watermelon, kiwis, apples, grapefruit, pineapples, pears, and berries.
- Fish – Salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, lake trout, and bass, among others. These examples are good for the heart and blood vessels. They contain omega-3 fats, are high in protein, vitamin D and low in saturated fat (11).
- Lean meats and poultry They contain less amounts of saturated fat and cholesterol
- Legumes – All kinds of beans, peas, and lentils are a good source of protein and fiber. They are low in fat, contain no cholesterol, and are high in folate, potassium, iron and magnesium (2).
- Complex carbs – Carbohydrates are not your enemy. Instead of choosing simple carbs that are not good for you, opt for healthy carbs such as quinoa, sweet potatoes, brown rice, wild rice, oatmeal, asparagus, and zucchini. Legumes are also a form of complex carbs.
Complex carbs take longer to digest, keeping you fuller for longer and are a more stable source of energy though glucose (28).
Another important factor to remember that will help over 60 lose weight is to limit or fully get rid of empty calories. Examples of empty calories include (9):
- Sugary drinks such as soda and energy drinks
- Fast foods such as burgers and pizzas
- Hard candies as well as candy and chocolate bars
- Butter, ice cream and oils such as soybean and canola oil
When adjusting your diet, remember to eat a lot of protein. For anyone over 60 trying to lose weight, proteins maintain physical health and strength and help to preserve more of their muscle mass (10).
Read More: Core Exercises For Seniors: Your Exercise Days Aren’t Behind You
Doing Keto Over 60 How Long To Lose Weight?
A ketogenic (keto) diet is high in fat and protein and very low in carbohydrates. Most of the body’s cells prefer to use blood sugar (glucose) as their primary source of energy. Through the process of ketosis, the body is forced to use fat stores in your body as a source of energy as opposed to using glucose from carbohydrates.
While this diet has been praised for helping people lose weight, it has also been discouraged since it is quite hard to maintain long-term (13). The diet also spikes up the levels of cholesterol in your body (at least for a while), and this might be life-threatening for persons with heart and liver problems.
Since the diet is also extremely low in carbohydrates intake, it may cause constipation, headaches, bad breath (24), low blood pressure, kidney stones, and nutrient deficiencies (14). It has not been studied extensively in older adults and so it is unclear how beneficial or safe it is for that population. In light of this, before considering how long or how much weight you can lose on this diet, please first consult your doctor and learn more.
The Bottom Line
To lose weight over 60 is not as hard as you would imagine it to be. With a few dietary changes to healthier foods and more exercise (cardio and weight training), you can shed those extra pounds even in your 60s and beyond.
The most important thing, however, is to put your health first. While working out has its health benefits, it can also cause injury. Be sure to consult your doctor before making any dietary changes and starting a new workout routine.
What Is The Best Way To Lose Weight Over 60?
Working out and eating right are and always will be the best and healthiest way for anyone – young or old – to lose weight. Do not let anyone lie to you that men or women over 60 cannot workout. While you might not be as strong or flexible as younger people, you can still exercise.
However, before you do, here are some important guidelines that you should follow to lose weight and be healthier (19):
- Reduce the amount of time spent sitting or lying down and break up long periods of not moving.
- Choose to engage in at least one light physical activity such as walking at a slow pace, vacuuming, cleaning and dusting every day.
- Twice a week, find workouts that help with your flexibility, strength, and balance.
- Engage in moderately intense aerobic exercises for 30 minutes every day or five times a week. Great examples of moderately intense workouts include walking briskly, riding a bicycle, water aerobics, pushing a lawnmower and hiking.
- If you can engage in some vigorous-intensity activity. This is better done by older people who are already quite active. Some fantastic vigorous-intensity activities include jogging, riding a bike fast or on hills, martial arts, football, hiking uphill, and swimming fast.
The Best Workouts For Men And Women Over 60 Lose Weight
For women and men over 60 lose weight, cardio workouts should be on top of the list. Not only do they help with weight loss, but they also offer other amazing benefits such as strengthening your heart and muscles, controlling your appetite, and boosting your mood through the release of endorphins. They also help you sleep better at night, reduce arthritis pain and stiffness through joint movement, help prevent or manage high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes (6).
The best cardio workouts are such as aerobics (step and aquatic), swimming, dancing, jogging, bike riding, and walking. When doing cardio, it is best to pace yourself. According to Harvard, the ideal aerobic intensity permits you to have a broken conversation. You should be able to get out four or five words between breaths. If you are not able to do that, you are over-exercising, and if you can speak more easily than that, you are not working out hard enough (21).
These forms of exercises should be done twice per week, and sessions should last between 20 and 45 minutes (26). However, this is not a set number; if you can only manage to do 10 or 15 minutes, this is also okay. You can always start small and work your way up as you get stronger.
Some strength/weight workouts include:
This is an amazing exercise for your core and shoulders:
- Begin lying on the floor with your forearms flat, making sure that your elbows are aligned directly under your shoulders.
- Engage your core and raise your body off the floor, keeping your forearms on the floor and your body in a straight line from head to feet.
- Keep your abdominals engaged and try not to let your hips rise or drop.
- Aim to hold this position for 30 seconds.
- If it hurts your low back or becomes too difficult, place your knees down on the ground.
Dumbbell Sumo Squat
This workout targets your glutes, quads, core, hamstrings, and upper body:
- Grasp one end of a dumbbell with both hands and let it hang downwards between your legs.
- Stand with your feet wide apart and pointing 30 to 45 degrees out to the sides.
- Keeping your arms fixed and your torso upright, inhale as you lower the dumbbell toward the floor by flexing your hips and knees. Descend at least until your thighs are parallel with the floor.
- Hold for a count of two.
- Exhale as you push yourself back up to a standing position.
- Repeat eight to 12 times. (26)
- If you don’t have access to dumbells, you can use soup cans or whatever you find around the house that works. If any extra weight feels too difficult when starting out, you can do this or any other exercise without the dumbbell (or soup can) and work your way up to using it.
Push-ups are great for your shoulders, arms and core muscles:
- Begin in a kneeling position on a mat with hands below shoulders and knees behind hips so back is angled and long.
- Tuck toes under, tighten abdominals and bend elbows to lower chest toward the floor. Keep your gaze in front of your fingertips, so the neck stays long.
- Press chest back up to starting position.
These are great combination exercises that target your glutes, quads, hamstrings and core:
- Stand tall with your feet hip-distance apart. Your hips, knees, and toes should all be facing forward.
- Bend your knees and extend your buttocks backward as if you are going to sit back into a chair. Make sure that you keep your knees behind your toes and your weight in your heels.
- Rise back up and repeat.
- Do this eight to 12 times (16).
Incline Chest Press
- Grasp two dumbbells and lie on your back on an incline bench angled between 45 and 60 degrees.
- Place your feet firmly on the floor or on a raised platform to allow you to maintain a neutral spine.
- Pull your shoulders down and back to make firm contact with the bench.
- Grasp each dumbbell with palms facing forward, thumbs wrapped around the handle, and press the dumbbells in unison to a level over your eyes or slightly higher, with your elbows fully extended.
- Inhale and slowly lower the dumbbells in unison and in a controlled movement towards your upper chest, but moving slightly wider towards the armpits. Gently touch the dumbbells to your chest without bouncing.
- Exhale and gently press upwards to full elbow extension with the dumbbells positioned at your starting position. Remember not to arch your back.
- Do this 8 to 12 times.
Ball Side Leg Lift
This workout is great for the legs and core:
- Begin kneeling with the ball to your right side.
- Let your right side lean slightly on the ball and hug your right arm around the ball.
- Extend left leg long to the side. The right leg should remain bent on the floor.
- Slowly lift and lower your left leg 8 to 12 times, then switch sides.
Targets your legs and core:
- Stand upright with dumbbells at your sides, palms facing your body.
- Lunge forward as far as you can with your right leg, bending your trailing knee so it almost brushes the floor.
- Use the heel of your right foot to push your upper body back to the starting position.
- Repeat with the opposite leg.
- Kneel on the mat on all fours.
- Reach one arm long, draw your core, and extend the opposite leg long behind you.
- Pull in the leg and arm towards each other and then stretch them out.
- Repeat 8 to 12 times then switch sides.
Single-Leg Hamstring Bridges
This workout targets your hamstrings, glutes, and quads.
- Tighten your abdominal and buttock muscles.
- Raise your hips to create a straight line from your knees to shoulders.
- Squeeze your core and try to pull your belly button back toward your spine.
- Slowly raise and extend one leg while keeping your pelvis raised and level. Hold.
- Return to the starting position with knees bent.
- Do this eight to 12 times before switching to the other leg.
Stability Ball Tricep Kickback
This exercise targets your triceps and core:
- Holding dumbbells, place your chest on the ball with arms draped alongside the ball and legs extended out to the floor behind you. Keep your head in line with your spine.
- Pull your elbow up to a 90-degree angle for start position.
- Press dumbbells back to lengthen arms, squeezing triceps.
- Release dumbbells back down to start position.
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Not only do these workouts burn calories helping you lose weight, but they also create muscular balance helping you not fall over. An example of a balance workout is:
The Tree Pose
- Stand on both feet with your weight distributed equally on all four corners of each foot.
- Begin to shift your weight into your right foot, lifting your left foot off the floor. Keep your right leg straight but don’t lock the knee.
- Bend your left knee and bring the sole of your left foot high onto your inner right thigh. If you can’t reach the thigh, place your foot on the inner side of your lower leg. Just avoid placing on your knee.
- Press your foot into your thigh and your thigh back into your foot with equal pressure. This will help you keep both hips squared toward the front, so your right hip doesn’t jut out.
- Focus your gaze on something that doesn’t move to help you keep your balance.
- Take 5 to 10 breaths, then lower your left foot to the floor and do the other side.
In layman’s language, this just means stretching. According to Harvard, flexibility training keeps the muscles flexible, strong, and healthy, and we need that flexibility to maintain a range of motion in the joints (23).
Good stretching exercises over 60 include (25):
The Quad Stretch
- Holding onto a wall or chair for support, bend one knee, bringing the foot up behind you towards your backside.
- Grab onto the foot or ankle with your hand and point the knee towards the floor to feel a stretch down the front of your thigh.
- Repeat on the other side.
- Find a stable piece of furniture at a comfortable height and place your hands on it to keep your balance.
- Extend your left foot backwards, bending your right knee slightly if you wish.
- Try to get your left heel onto the ground and leave it there if your flexibility allows. Hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds.
- Repeat with your right leg.
These are just two examples of stretching exercises for seniors. Always remember to stretch before and after your workouts.
What Is The Benefit Of Weight/Strength Training In Women And Men Over 60?
- Can improve mental health.
- May lower the risk of chronic disease such as arthritis, osteoporosis, diabetes, obesity, back pain, depression.
- Preserves muscle mass. Age-related sarcopenia (muscle loss) begins when people turn 30 and if you are inactive, you lose about 3% – 5% of muscle mass each decade. While sarcopenia is unavoidable (even in physically active people), you can prevent the worse effects of it by working out (20).
- Builds bone density. Osteoporosis is an illness that causes loss of bone density, making them brittle and prone to breaking. As you age, your body may reabsorb calcium and phosphate from your bones instead of keeping these minerals in your bones. Exercise, as well as getting enough vitamin D, and calcium may help with managing and preventing osteoporosis (18).
- Improves balance, and thus older people will not fall over, preventing broken bones.
What Is The Fastest Way To Lose Weight Over 60?
The fastest way to lose weight over 60 for men or women is to reduce the amount of calories you consume in a day while also increasing physical activity. When it comes to dieting, there are many fad diets that promise to help you lose 5 pounds in five days or to drop two jeans sizes in two weeks. As appealing as this sounds, do not be tempted to try any of these eating plans.
These are terrible options for men and women over 60. Studies have also shown that excessive calorie cutting has even more serious side effects such as anemia, muscle wasting, neurologic deficits, lower extremity edema, weakness, dizziness, lethargy, irritability, and depression (10).
Very-low-calorie diets (i.e. under 1200 calories per day) in people over 60 must be done under strict medical supervision because, as compared to younger or middle-aged persons, over 60 men and women lose more lean mass and have a higher requirement of vitamins and minerals.
Instead of resorting to such drastic and dangerous measures, it is best to cut your daily calorie intake by 500 to 1000 calories and engage in physical exercise. According to the CDC, this is the best way to shed those unwanted kilograms (15).
This will help you lose about 1 to 2 pounds per week. While it is not as fast as you might want it to be, this is a much safer, healthier and sustainable option in the long run. Remember that before changing your diet you should always consult your doctor to seek the best way forward.
Why Is It So Hard To Lose Weight Over 60?
Loss Of Lean Muscle Mass
From the moment we hit 30 years old, or bodies start to actively lose muscle mass. Within the body, muscle tends to burn more calories than fat, and each pound of muscle lost is slowly replaced by fat. This makes it quite hard for you to lose weight (1).
With the loss of lean muscle comes a much slower metabolism than when you were younger. Metabolism is key in weight loss as it enables you to burn calories during physical activity and while at rest. Once it slows down, your body tends to turn calories into fat instead of energy.
Levels of estrogen in women and testosterone in men drop as you age. The decrease of these hormones causes women to gain more weight around their stomach area while men lose muscle mass which is replaced by fat (29).
Decrease In Physical Activity
Persons over 60 tend not to move as much as they did when they were younger. Lack of physical activity or exercise means that you are not burning as much fat as you need to. Consuming more calories than you burn will make it harder to lose weight over 60.
How Can Women Over 60 Lose Weight? Tips On How To Lose Weight Over 60
Losing weight when you are over 60 is not as hard as you may think. Here are some simple steps that can help you achieve your goal:
- Strength training. As discussed above, strength training is a great way for men and women over 60 to lose weight. Invest in resistance bands and consult a certified trainer for the best weights for you. The lighter, the better when you are starting out.
- Do more cardio! Cardio workouts are known to be good for your heart, and they burn calories too.
- Eliminate simple carbs and sugars from your diet. Sodas, most breakfast cereals, juice concentrates, white bread and pasta are not good for you. Replace these with the complex carbs mentioned above.
- Watch your calories. Even when you eat healthily, your calories can still pile up making you gain weight or prevent you from losing weight. Consult a doctor or nutritionist on the amount of calories you should eat to lose weight in a healthy and sustainable way.
- Manage stress. This can be done through yoga, working out, talking to friends or seeing a therapist. Stress prompts the release of the hormone cortisol that causes us to overeat.
- Remember to hydrate. Water is a natural appetite suppressant. It increases calorie burning and helps muscles, connective tissues, and joints to move correctly when you workout (4).
- Sleep more – Lack of sleep spikes the levels of cortisol and messes with your body’s ability to produce insulin. These two factors make your body hold on to fat (21).
How Can Men Over 60 Lose Weight?
The same rules above that help women lose weight apply to men. There is no secret miracle to losing those extra pounds. Whether you are male or female, always consult your doctor before embarking on a weight loss journey.