The 200 Calorie Rule

The number of calories you need each day drops slightly as you age, yet most people keep eating the same amount of food. A doctor once told me that a 50+ year old body is like an economy car: It is more efficient so it needs less fuel! The government’s dietary guidelines advise you to burn approximately 200 fewer calories a day after the age of 50. Nancy Rodriguez, a professor of nutritional sciences at the University of Connecticut says, “If your calorie burn goes down and you don’t change the way you eat, then you’re going to put on weight.”

Exercise alone will not restore the calorie burn of your youth. That’s because about 50-70 percent of the energy you burn goes to sustaining your vital organs, respiration and other processes that keep you alive. This is called your basal metabolic rate, and the slowdown of this rate is the main reason you need fewer calories with age.

Creeping weight may be normal, but it is not healthy. Experts advise you to check your waist circumference rather than your scale. A waist circumference greater than 40 inches for men and 35 inches for women puts you at greater risk for disease. To get and remain below those numbers, you have to cut some calories. Start with 200 from your daily diet. Don’t concentrate on eating less; focus on eating better, especially when snacking. Foods high in protein and fiber will satisfy your cravings and make you less likely to over indulge. For example, an Oreo has about the same number of calories as a small apple, but while it’s easy to eat 6 Oreos, it’s pretty hard to eat 6 apples.

Fruit, nuts, raw vegetable and unsweetened yogurt are all filling foods that provide you with fiber, protein and useful nutrients. So, try to pack as many fruits and vegetables into your day as possible, and limit or eliminate foods like doughnuts, cookies and other sweets which have minimal nutritional value. By using each snack craving as an opportunity to add more nutrients to your diet, you will slim down without having to count calories!

– Becky Lynn is a writer for She and her husband Bob enjoy spending time with their 8 grandchildren and traveling. Becky loves cranking up the music and heading to the kitchen to try out new recipes or cook for an upcoming party. She is passionate about continuing to be a life-long learner!


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