The best weight loss strategy for older adults may be a high protein, low-calorie diet regimen. Many older adults really struggle to lose weight. Their metabolism has slowed down as a result of normal aging and many don’t realize how sedentary they’ve become. Another weight loss challenge is that food and drink are frequently one of the highlights of a retiree’s life.

What’s the Best Weight Loss Program for Older Adults?

The best weight loss regimen, according to a new study, may be to increase protein intake to avoid losing muscle mass as you age. A condition called sarcopenia causes muscle loss as we get older. It is a must to do resistance training to continually replace that muscle. The problem is that when you are counting calories to lose weight, you often destroy lean muscle mass in the course of doing so. That can cause your metabolism to slow down even more. Another danger of a low-calorie diet is that you may also lose bone mass.

A new study, which focused on the best weight loss program for older adults, found that a high-protein, low-calorie diet helps older adults with obesity lose more weight. At the same time, the dieter maintains muscle mass, improves bone quality and loses “bad” fat.

Summary of Study on Best Weight Loss to Preserve Muscle and Strong Bones

Here are the details the new study to determine the best weight loss diet for older adults:

  • A randomized controlled trial was conducted at Wake Forest University by researcher Kristen Beavers.
  • According to Beavers, “Doctors hesitate to recommend weight loss for fear that losing muscle and bone could cause mobility issues or increase the risk of injury.”
  • “This study suggests that a diet high in protein and low in calories can give seniors the health benefits of weight loss while keeping the muscle and bone they need for better quality of life as they age.”

Best Weight Loss Study Details

  • This study aimed to quantify the risk of doing nothing by comparing results from a weight loss group vs. a weight stability group.
  • For the study, 96 older adults over age 65 were randomly assigned to one of two groups.
  • The participant group consumed a six-month low-calorie meal plan that included more than 1 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight, plus adequate calcium and vitamin D.
  • Specifically, that group followed a high-protein, nutritionally complete, reduced-calorie meal plan that included the use of four meal replacements, two meals of lean protein and vegetables prepared by the participants, and one healthy snack.
  • A second weight stability control group consumed .8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. That is the current, government-recommended dietary allowance.
  • The weight-stability group attended health education classes and were encouraged to maintain their baseline diet and normal activity.
  • The researchers decided not to include exercise, because many older adults are unlikely to perform the volume and intensity of exercise needed to preserve muscle and bone.

Results of Best Weight Loss Program

Here’s what the researchers found:

  • The participants lost about 18 pounds, most of it fat (87 percent), and preserved muscle mass.
  • The control group lost about half a pound.
  • Even when participants lost weight, they maintained bone mass. In fact a measure of bone quality that predicts fracture risk, seemed to improve.
  • They lost fat in the stomach, hips, thighs and rear, which is important for preventing or controlling diseases such as diabetes and stroke.
  • Participants’ score on the Healthy Aging Index, which measures biomarkers that predict mortality and longevity, improved by 0.75 points.

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