WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - As we age our bodies require different levels of activity, calories, and nutrition. Registered Dietitian Ana Evans and personal trainer Amy Stewart say it’s important to pay attention to those needs.
“Naturally, our metabolism slows each decade a little bit so paying attention to what your body’s caloric needs are and specifically protein needs that can really help you to build muscle which burns more calories at rest,” Davis explained.
The calories a 30-year-old needs are different than those of a 50-year-old.
“It’s really about eating more of the right foods" Davis said. "So, instead of thinking, ‘oh, what can’t I eat?’ I encourage women especially over 50 to focus on all the things they can eat.”
Focus on big portions for low calories like fruits and vegetables, and lean proteins instead of eating smaller foods that have more calories. Davis suggests sticking to green vegetables like kale, spinach, lettuces and add omega 3s.
"Eating more fish, or plant based omega 3s from chia seeds, hemp seeds, those are all really hormonally balancing and keep you full again for longer, so don’t skimp on the healthy fat especially for our brain health as we age, but also again for nourishing hormones and keeping blood sugar levels stable.”
Staying active and building muscle is also important.
“By the time you’ve turned 30, it’s a 5% decrease in your muscle mass and by the time you’re 50 it’s a 10% decrease, so you have to make sure that you are actually working out and controlling that part of your body,” Stewart said.
And it’s important to continue a good exercise routine well into your golden years.
Joan Bozeman, who is 80 years old, works out twice a week.
“One of my concerns is not being able to take care of myself and this way, this is my insurance program,” Bozeman said.
“It’s stimulating, it keeps your mind active, it keeps your body working, makes you enjoy the rest of your day," Bozeman said.
Natalie Knight recently turned 50. She struggled losing weight after having two children. Now, they’re one of the main reasons she takes care of herself.
“I think it will make a different in how long I’m around, you know? Taking care of myself and making sure that I’m still here for my kids when I much old, they’re older and I’m older and just being there," Knight said. “It makes a huge difference in my ability to focus on what I need to for work and family and everything that’s going on in my life.”
Jamie Boman is a 56-year-old nurse practitioner.
“I think it’s really important to build up muscle mass, to keep your bones strong and healthy,” Boman explained. “Especially with the ageing process, being able to do more and keep yourself healthy, your joints, your bones healthy- it’s so important and even just what you can do small amounts that you can do to build yourself up.”
You’re never too old to get started. But remember this is a lifestyle change. Evans says it’s okay to take it slow.
“Just going gentle on yourself is important and not trying to do it all at once," Evans said. "So, if you’re someone who’s maybe just starting or getting back on the wagon, picking one thing you can work on and getting that down then picking another. You don’t have to do it all at once. Usually people that try that don’t sustain that way of eating or living, so truly look at it like lifestyle. Maybe give yourself the freedom or permission to follow the 80/20 rule which is 80% your on and you have a good foundation of all the things we just talked about and 20% you can have a dessert, a glass of wine or whatever is your guilty pleasure.”
Stewart has the same advice — whether you’re just starting an exercise regiment or haven’t been consistent with workouts. Every little bit helps.
“The activity level that you do is up to you, but you need to keep doing it. I don’t think people realize you don’t need to do it every single day 3-5 times a week is good. If you’re in your 50s and you’ve never started before, I would say 3 times a week is probably where you want to start. It’s just getting up and moving," Stewart said. "If you go and do lunges around your house you can do that. You can do abs, you can do crunches. Anything that’s going to get you up and moving is very, very important as you age.”