Staying as healthy as possible as we age is not just about exercise and our choice of footwear. A healthy diet suitable for our age and activity level is of paramount importance. As I mentioned last month, many wearers of kyBoot shoes, including myself, wear them because they have a musculoskeletal condition. One of the best ways to reduce wear and tear on our joints and reduce pain is to reduce the workload on the joints.
As sad as this is, our base metabolic rate decreases naturally as we grow older. It can also decrease if we are relatively inactive, even if young. We can increase our metabolic rate by increasing our lean muscle mass, however for many of us reaching that level of activity may be difficult. Our main objectives are to reduce pain, increase mobility and therefore improve or retain quality of life. We are not necessarily aiming to compete at the next Olympics!
Food is our fuel. If we are unable to burn that fuel, we store it. When you take your car to fill up the tank with petrol or diesel, the fuel tank has a finite capacity. My car has a 60 litre tank. I can’t put 70 litres in the car. Our bodies are a little more flexible. My body will use an estimated 1,388 calories a day to stay alive: breath, pump blood around, blink. You can check your Base Metabolic Rate estimate at BMR Calculator. I’m 62, so my metabolism is already slowed just by the fact I’m not longer in my twenties. By comparison, were I still only 25, my BMR would be 1,561. If I eat more than 1,388 plus whatever my activity calorie burn is but don’t use it, I’ll just expand. Unlike the car’s fuel tank, my body has no capacity limitations. Nor does yours.
Example: 1,388 + 100 for incidental steps for day + 380 for a strength workout = Total 1,868
If I eat 2,200 calories, guess where the excess over 1,868 is going? Fat stores. That puts more stress on my joints, internal organs have to work harder.
I won’t lie to you. Getting into the groove of eating less calories BECAUSE you are burning less calories is a bit tough initially. We have to adjust to not burning as much as we used to: it requires us to develop new habits, change behaviours: that is hard. But only for the first few weeks. What bothers you more? A difficult few weeks – or a tough rest of your life? The sooner you take positive action, the easier the adjustment will be.
Am I saying I never have a Murray River Salted Caramel with Macadamia ice cream (my nemesis)?
No, I’m not saying that. I like to have the things I really enjoy every now and then. I am also well aware that “little” indulgence is worth 339 calories. In other words, worth a whole meal (for my calorie levels, you may be able to have more). If I’ve burnt off 400 calories through activity that day, I can indulge and still hit my calorie deficit target. If I’m having a day where for whatever reason I’ve done very little activity, I make sure I am strict with myself. Keep on top of it, because we may no longer have the luxury of going for a 40 kilometre bike ride to pull back a couple of naughty days.
What do I mean by calorie deficit? I’m glad you asked! I aim for a NET 1,200 calories a day. If I did nothing all day and ate 1,200 calories: 1,388 – 1,200 would mean Id have used 188 calories more than I ate. If I keep that deficit, I will not gain weight. However, if I go to the gym and do 60 minutes of strength work, I have 400 calories to spare. Now I have used 1,788 calories total and I do need to fuel my activity – if my body thinks I’m in a famine, then I risk slowing my metabolism even further. On those days I eat more. I will have one or maybe two protein shakes, or eat more healthy food. The total I eat may be around 1,400. I am not aiming to eat 1,200 calories every day, I am aiming to have a calorie deficit. Burn more than I eat.
Now we come to the question of what we should be eating. On the basis we probably have to eat less than we previously did, we need to ensure we are eating to give our bodies the nutrients it needs.
According to a recent Time article there is no such thing as a single best diet. Yet there are hundreds of diets on the market. Humans seem to be the only species on the planet that makes eating right so complicated! Readers may be interested in The Nutrition Conundrum on my website where I go into the question of the various recommendations in greater length.
I would certainly recommend cutting out added sugar and watching the labels of foods you buy, such as yoghurt. Low fat yoghurts are often very high in added sugar to help disguise the fact the fat is not there to give the taste boost.
Anyone on a medically prescribed diet should stay on that diet, but the rest of us can make sensible adjustments, ensuring we are getting adequate protein and health fats.
You have the right footwear, your kyBoot shoes. You know the benefits of exercise and how to pace up to increasing levels of activity. Don’t undermine those efforts by over filling your fuel tank.
The picture at the top of this article is very calorie dense as I am sure you can tell just by looking at it. The picture immediately above is very healthy muesli, fresh strawberries and a no added sugar yoghurt. The difference in calories is probably around 1,000. Or more – I don’t want to think about it!
This article should be read as an introduction and conversation starter only. The concepts discussed are general and not tailored for any individual circumstances.
Website from Robyn Dunphy: limberation.com