No matter what your age, when you're carrying extra weight, you always want to lose it yesterday. But if you're a woman in your 60s, losing weight too fast may cause you to lose precious calorie-burning muscle, which may make it more difficult to keep the weight off in the long run. Losing slow and steady is a better way to slim down. Consult your doctor to discuss a healthy diet to help you lose weight.
Calories for 60-Year-Old Woman
As you get older, your calorie-burning capacity decreases, which means you can't eat as much as you used to without gaining weight. In general, women in their 60s need 1,600 to 2,200 calories a day to maintain their weight. Activity level determines where in that range you fall, with sedentary women on the low end and women with an active lifestyle needing more calories.
To lose 1 pound of fat in a week, you need to eat 500 fewer calories a day than you're currently consuming. To limit muscle loss, your rate of weight loss should not exceed 2 pounds a week, which means reducing your daily intake no more than 1,000 calories a day. Also, to prevent nutritional deficiencies, you should not limit your daily intake to 800 calories or less a day. So for example, a woman who usually eats about 2,000 calories a day could lose a pound a week by dropping down to 1,500 calories per day -- either through eating less or exercising more, or preferably both.
Protein for 60-Year-Old Women
To promote loss of fat and preserve muscle mass, you want to make sure you're getting enough protein in your diet. A 2011 study published in The Journals of Gerontology investigated the effects of adding a protein supplement versus a carbohydrate on weight loss in a group of overweight and obese older women following a reduced-calorie diet. The study found that the women supplemented with protein lost more weight and preserved more of their muscle mass than the women taking the carb supplement. The researchers suggest that to maintain physical health and strength, older women trying to lose weight should get a higher percentage of their calories from protein. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggests women in their 60s get 5 to 6 ounces of protein a day from foods such as poultry, seafood, lean red meat, soy, beans, eggs and dairy.
Balanced Diet for Weight Loss
While protein is an important part of your weight-loss diet plan, it's also essential that you include a variety of other types of foods so that you get all the vitamins and minerals your body needs to stay healthy, while losing the fat. Include fruits, vegetables and whole-grains in your diet, too. These foods are not only rich in nutrients, but also low in calories and high in fiber. High-fiber foods add bulk so you feel full sooner, and they take longer to digest, keeping you feel full longer, making them a good addition to any weight-loss plan. Don't forget a little fat, which is essential for good health. Get your healthy fats from nuts, olive oil and fatty fish, such as salmon.
Sample 1,400-Calorie Weight-Loss Menu
A weight-loss plan should include three meals a day, with one snack, if you like. A healthy breakfast might include a boiled egg with a whole-wheat English muffin topped with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter and a 6-ounce container of nonfat yogurt for 415 calories. For lunch, try 2 cups of mixed greens topped with 1/2 cup of chickpeas, 1 ounce of low-fat cheddar cheese, six chopped almonds, and 2 tablespoons of low-fat salad dressing plus a large banana for 435 calories. A healthy dinner for your weight-loss diet might include 4 ounces of grilled salmon, 1 cup baked sweet potato and 1 cup of roasted Brussels sprouts tossed in 1 teaspoon of olive oil for 475 calories. Snack on 1/2 cup of nonfat milk with 1/2 cup unsweetened whole-grain cereal for 95 calories.
Benefits of Exercise
Add strength-training exercises twice a week to assist in your weight loss. Strength training helps preserve muscle and aids weight loss in older women following a reduced-calorie diet, according to a 2015 study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Use free weights, resistance bands or your own body weight as a tool to strengthen and preserve your muscle while losing the fat. A good strength-training routine should last about 30 minutes and work out all the major muscle groups, doing two sets, with 10 to 12 reps, of each exercise.
Aerobic exercise can also help burn calories for weight loss. The Center for Disease Control recommends you get 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise at a minimum, such as walking or riding a stationary bike, five days a week. Consult your doctor first before starting an exercise program.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Effects of Resistance Training with and Without Caloric Restriction on Physical Function and Mobility in Overweight and Obese Older Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial
- Journal of Gerontology: The Effects of a Higher Protein Intake During Energy Restriction on Changes in Body Composition and Physical Function in Older Women
- National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute: Healthy Eating Plan
- FamilyDoctor.org: What It Takes to Lose Weight
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Eat Right For Life
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Healthy Weights for Healthy Older Adults
- Helpguide.org: High-Fiber Foods
- University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture: The Exchange List System for Diabetic Meal Planning
- NIH Senior Health: Exercise: Exercises to Try: Strength Training
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?