There is no doubt about it as we age our body composition changes. Hormones, tastes, energy levels and nutrient absorption can all make an impact on our general health and wellbeing.

Whilst all of these changes are significant and, to be honest somewhat annoying, carrying excess weight can often be the hardest pill to swallow!

It would appear that you are eating no more calories but over time an extra pound is added to the scale and then another creeps on and so it goes on.

So what are we to do? Starving ourselves is certainly not an option and let’s face it, I personally feel that I have been “good” all of my life, surely I can relax a little bit in my latter years.

Exercise

Over time our joints have obviously had to surrender to wear and tear so, like it or not, some exercises are just not appropriate for someone over 50.  However, it is clear that to stop the decline of our basal metabolic rate (BMR), which is one of the body’s way of burning off the food we eat, we have to ensure our activity levels remain high.

If activity levels decrease we lose muscle mass. With less muscle the body needs less energy, so food is stored as fat rather than burned off. Our basal metabolic rate (BMR) then slows down as the composition of our bodies changes.

The simplest and most effective way to counteract a slowing BMR is to stay active. Because of the inevitable wear and tear on our joints keeping our cardiovascular activities to low impact is preferable. Walking, swimming, pilates, yoga, gardening are all wonderful options that will help burn calories, maintain muscle mass and therefore boost our BMR.

Cut Calories, Not Taste

There is no doubt food should be enjoyed. Often you will be able  to make a small change to a recipe and, whilst the taste is not impacted too greatly, the amount of carbohydrates or calories can.

There are so many pasta alternatives these days, I personally love the spaghetti squash that is available at most supermarkets. Give your food a bit of a “kick” by adding spices. Fresh or dried herbs, lemon zest and juice heighten the taste of a meal tenfold. There are so many lower fat options on the market these days that taste just as good as their higher fat counterparts and easy fixes such as supplementing greek yoghurt for mayonnaise is a great way to reduce fat intake. Many of your classic meat meals can easily be changed to a veggie alternative such as swapping high fat and calorific red meat for lentils or beans.

With small changes to the meals you love you can save a lot of calories and still enjoy eating.

Supplements

Whilst we should always try and consume foods that are as nutrient-dense as we possibly can an aging body can become less efficient at absorbing some nutrients.Without key vitamins, it can be hard for your body to process food correctly into energy, meaning that you may feel tired and sluggish. We can often lack sufficient amounts of  Folic Acid, Vitamin B12, Calcium, Vitamin D, Fiber, and Omega-3 Fats. If you feel that you should be taking supplements consider speaking to a professional to ensure you add the correct dose and balance to your diet.

Stay Hydrated

Did you know that our sense of thirst reduces as we get older? It is therefore vital that to reduce the risk of dehydration we must drink as much water as we possibly can.

Personally, I always start the day with hot water and lemon juice (the benefits of starting the day this way is another article!) Sometimes introducing cold water is just not what my body needs first thing, so if you feel the same way then maybe try a warmer alternative with some lemon, mint or honey and then introduce the colder stuff later. Trying to hydrate early doors is key, so try and drink as much water up until lunchtime as you possibly can, leaving it until the afternoon may already put you at risk of dehydration. The other benefits of drinking water are a reduction in hunger, it boosts energy and facilitates digestion.

Not drinking enough water can cause urinary tract infections and lead to memory problems, so getting enough water is beneficial for our physical and mental health.

Rest

Rest is key in gaining balance, in fact it is as important as the amount of exercise you take and your diet.

Sleep not only gives you a chance to rest your mind and body, it also helps to regulate the hormones that control hunger signals. Not sleeping well can disrupt these signals and fool your brain into thinking you’re hungry when you’re not.