Diet Plan For Women Over 50

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Diet plan for women over 50 should be easy to follow and have daily checklists. When you turn 50, you may feel that old age is rapidly approaching and you are willing to go to any length to remain in shape. While it is true that aging brings a number of changes, this doesn’t mean that you should become inflexible. You can actually lose weight easily while achieving the healthy body image you have always dreamed of. It is never too late to change your lifestyle.

Weight Gain in Women Over 50

Menopause is one factor. “During menopause, women’s body composition takes a turn, increasing muscle breakdown and increasing fat accumulation, particularly in the belly area,” says Maxine Smith, a registered dietitian with Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Human Nutrition.

Some weight gain can be attributed to a slower metabolism. However, changes in metabolism aren’t significant for people in their 40s and 50s, research suggests. Some women put on weight, Fears says, because they aren’t as physically active as they were earlier in their lives, before the demands of their career, raising children and in some cases caring for elderly parents.

Also, as women age, their bodies experience hormone fluctuations, which can lead to weight gain, says Amy Kimberlain, a national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She’s a registered dietitian certified in diabetes care.

Serious chronic medical conditions are another potential contributor. As women become older, some develop medical conditions that can lead to fluctuations in weight.

These conditions may include:

  • Cancer.
  • Diabetes.
  • Heart disease.
  • High blood pressure.

Changing Nutritional Needs

If you’re a woman age 50 or above, it’s important to consider which eating regimen works for you as your nutritional needs change, says Lisa Jones, a registered dietitian based in Philadelphia.

In particular, women age 50 and above need to make sure they get enough of these nutrients:

  • B vitamins.
  • Calcium.
  • Vitamin D.
  • Protein.

These nutrients are important for women as they age for a variety of reasons, Fears says.

Vitamin B12 is a common deficiency due to age-related decrease in absorption. The vitamin is important for red blood cell production to help prevent anemia and aids in the function and development of brain and nerve cells.

As women hit menopause, the decline in estrogen and progesterone make it harder for calcium to be absorbed, which increases the risk of osteopenia (the loss of bone density that is associated with weaker bones) or osteoporosis (a condition in which bones become brittle or fragile). Vitamin D helps with the absorption of calcium, which is good for bone health, Fears says.

Protein is important for preserving muscle mass and for healthy cells. Protein helps fight against slow loss of muscle and helps keep up strength for healthy aging. Protein also aids in repair and maintenance of cells, making hormones and wound healing.

Protein needs can be met by consuming a variety of meat, poultry, fish, dairy and plant-based proteins, such as tofu and tempeh.

Key Components of a Healthy Diet Over 50

There are a few key components the best diet for women over 50 possesses.

A nutritious meal plan should include:

All Major Food Groups

Fad diets, such as the ketogenic and raw food diets, may work well short term.

But don’t eliminate food groups if you’re seeking the best diet for women over 50 you can sustain for a lifetime.

Food groups to include in well-balanced diets are:

  • A variety of fruits
  • Non-starchy vegetables (leafy greens, celery, tomatoes, cucumbers, broccoli, etc.)
  • Starchy veggies (sweet potatoes, corn, peas, beans, lentils, and other legumes)
  • Whole grains (brown rice, wild rice, oatmeal, quinoa, whole-grain pasta, Ezekiel bread, etc.)
  • Protein foods (lean meats, chicken, turkey, fish, seafood, eggs, tofu, and seitan)
  • Healthy fats (olive oil, fish oil, olives, avocados, nuts, seeds, and nut butters)

A good way to portion these nutritious whole foods is to fill about half of your plate with non-starchy vegetables, one-fourth of your plate with protein foods, and one-fourth of each plate with fiber-rich carbohydrates (whole grains, peas, beans, other legumes, etc.).

This video explains basic nutrition for beginners, giving you 4 actionable ways you can eat healthier TODAY!

Controlled Calories

Whether you’re trying to shed pounds or maintain your current weight, controlling calories helps reduce the risk of unwanted weight gain in the future.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020 recommend the following calorie needs for women over 50:

  • Sedentary: 1,600 calories per day
  • Moderately active: 1,800 calories daily
  • Active: 2,000-2,200 calories per day

If weight loss is your goal, aim to consume about 1,200 calories daily to drop about 1-2 pounds per week.

A good way to determine how many calories you’re eating daily is to use a fitness tracker or health app.

A Regular Meal Schedule

Eat at regular meal times whenever possible to avoid hunger (and overindulging at the next meal) and keep energy levels going strong throughout the day.

Aim to eat every few hours or so.

You might choose three meals plus two smaller snacks, or 5-6 meals each containing about the same number of calories.

Best Diet Plans for Women Over 50

Given all these factors, these three diets could be good options for women age 50 and above:

  • DASH diet.
  • Mediterranean diet.
  • MIND diet.

DASH Diet

This acronym, which stands for dietary approaches to stop hypertension, is promoted by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute to prevent or stop hypertension, or high blood pressure. The DASH diet is a heart-healthy eating style, Smith says.

The DASH diet emphasizes:

  • Fat-free or low-fat dairy products.
  • Fruits.
  • Lean proteins (eggs, skinless chicken, lean meat, seafood).
  • Whole grains.
  • Vegetables.
  • Limiting sugar-sweetened beverages and foods with added sugars.

This eating regimen is low in saturated fat and sodium.

The DASH diet is high in these nutrients:

  • Calcium.
  • Fiber.
  • Magnesium.
  • Potassium.

Mediterranean Diet

This eating approach, which is naturally adopted by people who live in regions surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, is highly rated by many registered dietitians and is rated the top diet overall by U.S. News’ team of experts.

The Mediterranean diet emphasizes whole foods, including:

  • Low-fat or no-fat dairy products.
  • Fish.
  • Lean protein (eggs, poultry, seafood, occasional servings of red meat).
  • Olive oil.
  • Nuts.
  • Seeds.

MIND Diet

The MIND diet is a plant-rich eating regimen that includes foods that research suggests help boost brain function, including:

  • All vegetables, especially dark, leafy green vegetables.
  • Beans.
  • Berries.
  • Fish.
  • Olive oil.
  • Whole grains.

Research suggests the MIND diet helps reduce the risks of dementia. For example, research published in January in the journal Alzheimer’s Research & Therapy followed more than 8,000 participants over a number of years. “Better adherence to the MIND diet is associated with a decreased risk of dementia within the first years of follow-up,” researchers wrote, adding that further research is needed to determine “to which extent the MIND diet may affect the risk of dementia.”

“Even those who follow the diet may only moderately experience a slower rate of mental decline,” Jones says.

How Turning 50 Affects Your Weight

From ages 30 to 60, you lose about 1/2 pound of muscle, but gain a pound of weight, each year. Muscle is more metabolically active than fat, so it helps boost your metabolism. As it diminishes, so does your metabolism — meaning that if you are still eating like you did in your 20s, you’re likely banking extra calories as fat.

Exercise can help you preserve lean muscle and increase your declining calorie-burn rate, but your children and parents are at ages that require extra care and time. Combine these obligations with a demanding job, and it’s tough to meet the 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise and two strength-training sessions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

You’re also approaching menopause, which affects your hormones. As you age, your body fat percentage naturally increases, and, instead, of storing most of your weight in the hips and thighs, much of it reverts to the belly.

Diet Planning Tips for Women Over 50

When you’re ready to plan your own healthy meal plans and menus, a few simple tips and tricks can help!

Choose a Daily Calorie Allotment

Based on your activity level, weight management goals, and current energy intake, choose your daily calorie goals.

Many women over 50 require 1,200-1,500 calories per day for weight loss, and 1,600-2,200 calories daily to maintain a healthy weight.

Reduce your current intake by 500-1,000 calories per day if weight loss is your goal.

Discover Meal Plans

Based on your calorie goals and daily schedule, create a custom healthy meal plan just for you!

You can use the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) meal plans as a guide.

Examples of meal plans at different calorie allotments include:

1,200-Calorie Meal Plan

  • 1 1/2 cups of vegetables
  • 1 cup of fruit
  • 4 ounces of whole grains
  • 2 1/2 cups of dairy foods or plant milk
  • 3 ounces of protein foods
  • 4 teaspoons of oils
  • 100 extra calories

1,400-Calorie Meal Plan

  • 1 1/2 cups of vegetables
  • 1 1/2 cups of fruit
  • 5 ounces of whole grains
  • 2 1/2 cups of dairy foods or plant milk
  • 4 ounces of protein foods
  • 4 teaspoons of oils
  • 110 extra calories

1,600-Calorie Meal Plan

  • 2 cups of vegetables
  • 1 1/2 cups of fruit
  • 5 ounces of whole grains
  • 3 cups of dairy foods or plant milk
  • 5 ounces of protein foods
  • 5 teaspoons of oils
  • 130 extra calories

1,800-Calorie Meal Plan

  • 2 1/2 cups of vegetables
  • 1 1/2 cups of fruit
  • 6 ounces of whole grains
  • 3 cups of dairy foods or plant milk
  • 5 ounces of protein foods
  • 5 teaspoons of oils
  • 170 extra calories

2,000-Calorie Meal Plan

  • 2 1/2 cups of vegetables
  • 2 cups of fruit
  • 6 ounces of whole grains
  • 3 cups of dairy foods or plant milk
  • 5 1/2 ounces of protein foods
  • 6 teaspoons of oils
  • 270 extra calories

2,200-Calorie Meal Plan

  • 3 cups of vegetables
  • 2 cups of fruit
  • 7 ounces of whole grains
  • 3 cups of dairy foods or plant milk
  • 6 ounces of protein foods
  • 6 teaspoons of oils
  • 280 extra calories

Once you know what daily food group allotments should look like, you can begin creating custom meal plans!

FOODS TO AVOID

1. CURED MEATS

Best diet for women over 50

PHOTO: CARLO A/GETTY IMAGES

Hot dogs, sausage, and bacon are high in fat, sodium, and cancer-causing additives. They’re also highly processed and offer little nutrition.

2. FROZEN MEALS

Best diet for women over 50

PHOTO: JAMIE GRILL PHOTOGRAPHY/GETTY IMAGES

They’re low in vegetables and protein and high in sodium and saturated fat. If you can’t live without the convenience, these brands offer choices with more vegetables: Stouffer’s Fit Kitchen, EatingWell, or Amy’s. Eat frozen meals as infrequently as possible, and pick those that have less than 30% of the total calories from fat.

3. PROTEIN BARS

Best diet for women over 50

PHOTO: RIDOFRANZ/GETTY IMAGES

Protein bars are heavily processed and high in added sugar. Many also contain soy protein isolates, which are known to be sprayed with pesticides.

4. VEGGIE CHIPS AND BAGGED POPCORN

Best diet for women over 50

PHOTO: DESERT SOLITAIRE/GETTY IMAGES

Many of these get 50% or more of their calories from fat.

5. BEVERAGES FROM COMMERCIAL SMOOTHIE AND JUICE SHOPS

Best diet for women over 50

PHOTO: COLDSNOWSTORM/GETTY IMAGES

They can be high in sugar and calories. Blend your own smoothie at home with frozen fruit, leafy greens such as raw spinach or kale, greek yogurt, and unsweetened almond milk.

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