Healthy Diet Tips From a Senior Personal Trainer
By Marjorie Jaffe

Older adults who exercise often still wonder if their diet is helping or actually hindering their workouts. The old adage regarding seniors sitting in an armchair while watching TV and the boundaries of how to live the golden years of our lives have been shattered – many experts now suggest seniors live their lives to the full, meeting up with other retired friends and family members, taking to the golf course, traveling the world with their life partner and, of course, taking a new higher ground with regard to diet.

Senior personal trainers are in the corner of their clients, cheering them on and supporting and providing them with a plan to stay active and trim. A certain doctoral student in exercise physiology at the University of New Mexico – and senior personal trainer – suggests the following senior nutrition tips:

  • Understand Calorie Requirements – Individuals over the age of 50 tend to require fewer calories than younger people do and as such for adults 51 and over, the Recommended Energy Intakes (REIs) are 2,300 per day for men and 1,900 calories per day for women. Exercising also helps fight age-related obesity, with high-quality protein and complex carbohydrates playing a vital role in the diet.
  • Stay Hydrated – Often overlooked, hydration is a serious concern for older people. As we age, our ability to sense thirst actually declines so we may drink less than we need. To prevent dehydration, it’s recommended to plan a fluid intake. Also paramount to consider is staying hydrated before, during and after a workout – in fact, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends drinking 16 ounces (two cups) of fluid every two hours before exercise. During moderate exercise, the body can lose two to six cups of fluid per hour, so during workouts it’s important to drink eight to 12 ounces every 10 or 15 minutes to combat these losses.
  • Eat Around a Workout – Consuming a pre-exercise snack can assist working out successfully without feeling unduly tired during or after the activity. To replenish food stores afterward, it’s suggested to eat a snack consisting of a carbohydrate and a touch of protein – obvious choices that often come to mind are a breakfast drink, string cheese and Melba toast, egg white and potato burrito and peanut butter on whole-grain bread.

How can seniors improve their health with regard to developing a fitness regimen and healthy eating habits? It all starts with understanding the meaning behind “easy does it” – it is vitally important to start slow and build up to a regular senior fitness plan. Precaution also must take place, as seniors should always check with doctors to ensure their heart health allows for physical activity.

A common mistake many older – and younger, for that matter – people make is overdoing the exercise right away, lessening the enjoyment of the workout and often resulting in injury and/or feelings of “being winded.”

Beyond the merits of personal training for seniors, the aspect of eating right remains a primary concern in geriatric wellness science. Consuming insoluble fiber has been known to significantly reduce the chance of colon cancer, lower the risk of heart disease and avoid the development of diverticulosis.

With an understanding that the proper portioning of food has worsened, our awareness of nutrient-rich foods has improved over the passing years. It is often recommended by experts to avoid white breads, oil, fats and sugars – in its place should be the consumption of vegetables and whole-grain foods (such as the whole-grain breads mentioned earlier).

Also vital, say senior demographic health experts, is the consumption of foods rich in colors like green, orange and purple; any food bright in color is indicative of a dynamic nutrient value. In a general sense, the richer the color the better it is for our bodies – this is why green beans, spinach, kale, broccoli and asparagus have more nutrient value than iceberg lettuce, cucumbers and celery.

While taking steps such as attending exercise classes is a great move for an elderly individual attempting to live a somewhat active lifestyle, it is diet that plays an equally vital role. The age-old sentiment that suggests “you are what you eat” comes to mind here.

Marjorie Jaffe is an author and leading NYC Senior Personal Trainer. Learn more about creating a healthy lifestyle for yourself by visiting her website at

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Read More: Why Use a Personal Trainer and How Do You Choose the Best One?

Senior personal trainer Fred Wilson – senior fitness-certified trainer in Syracuse, NY
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