Although the same rules for weight loss apply whether you're 30 or 60 -- reduce your calorie intake and increase your activity level -- your body is different in your senior years than it was when you were younger. As you age, your metabolism slows -- by up to 10 percent per decade after age 25. That means you may take in the same number of calories and exercise just as much as you did in your 30s, but the weight still creeps on. Fight the encroaching belly bulge by reducing your caloric intake even further and maintaining an active lifestyle.
Reduce your calorie intake to meet the needs of your age group. As you age, your calorie needs decline, so you may be eating more calories than you actually need, resulting in weight gain. According to the National Institutes of Health, men over the age of 51 need between 2,000 and 2,800 calories per day, and women in that same age group need between 1,600 and 2,200 calories each day. This is about 200 to 400 calories less per day than you needed in your 30s and 40s. Your specific needs will depend on your activity level; if you're not very active, you should stick to the lower end of the range, and if you're very active, you'll need more calories.
Choose nutrient-dense foods and avoid empty-calorie foods to improve your nutrient intake and reduce your calorie intake at the same time. Focus your meals around fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and seafood, low-fat dairy and nuts and seeds. Cut out refined grains, baked goods, soda, candy and desserts.
Eat smaller meals more frequently to keep your metabolism revving, recommends registered dietitian Timi Gustafson. Eat a nutritious snack meal every three to four hours, which will keep your metabolism on "slow burn," says Gustafson.
Exercise regularly, engaging in both aerobic exercise and strength training. Aerobic exercise will keep your joints and muscles flexible and will help you burn calories. Plan to get about 30 minutes of aerobic exercise each day. This could include walking, jogging, riding a bike, dancing or gardening. Strength training is important at any age, but it's especially important as you age because you begin to lose lean muscle mass. The more lean muscle mass you have, the higher your resting metabolism -- meaning you burn more calories even when you're not doing anything. That's a surefire way to beat the belly bloat. Engage in two weekly strength-training sessions targeting all the major muscle groups.
Get plenty of sleep. You may find you sleep less than you did when you were younger or that it's harder to fall or stay asleep. But don't be tempted to go without adequate sleep. Not getting enough sleep can interfere with the hormones that regulate your appetite and lead to overeating and unhealthy food choices. According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults need seven to nine hours of sleep each night.
- If you're new to exercise, seek out the help of a fitness professional who is experienced with senior fitness and the needs of aging bodies. Start out slowly and increase your physical activity level gradually, taking special care to avoid injury.