I get this question a lot and I decided it was time to provide a good answer. As we age, our caloric needs unfortunately begin to dwindle. For example, according to Livestrong.com:
“As you age, the approximate proportions of different macronutrients (definition: Nutrition; any of the nutritional components of the diet that are required in relatively large amounts: protein, carbohydrate, fat, and the macro minerals) your needs stay the same but your total caloric needs decrease. Men between 51 and 70 need 2204 calories per day and after 70 need 2054 calories a day. Women’s caloric needs decrease from 1978 calories a day from 51 to 70 to 1873 after 70.”
That is unfortunate news but not surprising. I am sure we all agree it is harder to loose weight and/or keep an ideal one as we age. So to stay fit and healthy we need to choose our foods wisely.
Back to protein, how much and what type should we be eating? According to the same article:
“The Recommended Daily Intake, RDA, for protein is 46 grams for women over 50 and 56 grams for men over 50. If you regularly engage in resistance exercise or recovering from certain types of illness or surgery, your health care provider may recommend increasing the amount of protein you consume.”
According to a 2015 article from the DailyBurn.com, 25 grams of protein looks like the below and it is relatively accurate (FYI: 4 0z of meat is about the size of a deck of cards):
-3 oz roast turkey or chicken breast or pork chop
-3.3 oz flank steak or ground beef
-2/3 can of tuna
-4.4 oz salmon
-8 medium shrimp or 6 medium oysters
-4.6 oz lobster
You get the idea but if you want even more info see this link:
According to yet another article on Dailyburn.com you can calculate your macronutrient needs (food intake needs) at the following link (this includes using your Base Metabolic Rate (BMR: The amount of calories you burn just by virtue of breathing and performing other vital functions):
Once you figure out your macronutrient needs, they should break down daily like this:
‘Calculate your daily caloric needs, then split those calories into 40 percent carbohydrates, 40 percent protein and 20 percent fat, the ratio that IIFYM (definition: The phrase If It Fits Your Macros, abbreviated to IIFYM, refers to meeting the individual macronutrient needs relevant to one’s goals and then filling the remaining calories with foods of personal preference. Meaning, eat whatever you want as long as it fits your macros) proponents say is the most effective for muscle growth, fat burning and consistent energy levels.”
You might be asking how to calculate your daily caloric needs if you want to increase or decease weight. I tried many different calculators online and they all came up with very similar results. Here is an example of one but you can google it as well:
MYFITNESSPAL App does a great job of taking your personal info and telling you how many calories you need should you wish to lose, maintain, or gain weight. It does not, however, tell you what type of calories to eat. It is simply calories in versus out to get your desired weight result.
We now have a good idea of how much protein we need and some basic information regarding food items that add up to 25 grams of protein. Now you can decide if you want to calculate your personal macronutrient needs and keep a food diary to track your daily food intake.
For me personally, this is too much and I do not enjoy keeping a food diary, but I have been in this business a long time so a lot of this is common sense to me now. So after years of keeping track of my food intake on paper or using an app, I now can track it in my head. However, this is not very accurate and if I really want to lose weight I do use MYFITNESSPAL App. But once you understand how to eat and what to eat you can self-manage, if you are disciplined. Those who prefer a coach can definitely hire a personal trainer, one who should also be able to assist you in your dietary needs and goals. Make sure that your trainer is knowledgeable regarding the older population and their fitness needs and, as always, consult your doctor before you begin a new diet or fitness regime. If you are new to the fitness game and starting up fresh, I do think a trainer is a good place to start. Once you are up and running, you may be able to self-manage (though some people prefer keep their trainers on a consistent basis).
The take away here is that you need to educate yourself on your body’s personal needs. All of us should eat less processed foods in general and eat at restaurants far less (they tend to have high fat, salt, and additives in their dishes). Preparing meals at home can be fun, is an enjoyable group activity, and you will typically eat a healthier diet. The usual concepts apply: eat less red meat, eat more veggies and fish, use better quality fats like olive oil. According to 2016 CIA data, the top four countries that have the longest life spans are Monaco, Singapore, Japan and Macau. These populations eat a lot of fish and vegetables and we could probably learn from them. Of course, next we get into the debate of where we should we be we getting our fish and vegetables, and are they fed and grown in a safe and healthy environment. But that is the topic of another blog. In the meantime, plan meals ahead, enjoy foods responsibly, eat few or no processed foods, and don’t eat alone too often.
“You are what you eat…so don’t be fast, easy, cheap or fake”
(quote from in-pursuit-of-fitness.tumblr.com)