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Healthy Weight Center

How Can I Keep My Weight Down As I Age?

08/28/2009

Question:

Over the past few years (from age 48 to 51) I have experienced a slow weight gain.  I am having a terrible time keeping my weight down, even with consistent dieting and exercise. What do you suggest?

Answer:

Thanks for your question. Part of the reason you may be gaining weight is due to constant dieting. Most fad diets or very low calorie diets provide less than 1200 calories per day. Depending on your height, weight and sex, this may be too little for you. In general, if your body feels as though it is in a state of starvation (due to constant calorie restriction), your metabolism may decrease, and therefore, you won't be able to burn calories as effectively. Most people need a minimum of 1200-1400 calories per day to meet RDAs for vitamins and minerals, and to keep their metabolism working effectively.

Other reasons for dieter's plateau can be additional calories in foods that you may see as low calorie (such as juice, margarine or excess sugar in foods).

Be sure to include nutrient dense foods every day, and limit excess sugar and fat in your diet. Eat foods high in fiber that help you feel full, and drink plenty of water every day (at least 4-6 glasses per day). High fiber foods include fresh fruits & vegetables, dried beans, and whole grains breads and cereals.

Exercise and low fat diet are still the best known methods of weight control. If you are doing exercise on a regular basis (i.e. at least 3 times per week for 30 minutes), and you're breaking a sweat, you may be building muscle. Muscle weighs more than fat, so although the scale may say you've gained weight, you may simply be toning muscles. Pay more attention to how your clothes fit and the way you feel, rather than the numbers on the scale.

In addition, you may need to increase the time and intensity of your exercises in order to improve metabolism and heart conditioning. Weight resistant exercises (like free weights) will also help you tone and build muscle. For individual weight counseling, see a Registered Dietitian who can review your diet and exercise habits.

Good luck to you!

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Response by:

Lisa Cicciarello Andrews, MEd, RD, LD Lisa Cicciarello Andrews, MEd, RD, LD
Adjunct Faculty
University of Cincinnati