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Healthy Weight Gain for Seniors: Basic Ideas

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healthy weight gain for seniors

Last Updated on October 6, 2021 by Ian Evans


When we consider weight management, we might think weight loss is the issue most people face. But some senior adults may also have trouble keeping weight on. Being underweight can also put you at risk for health issues. If you are underweight, knowing how Healthy Weight Gain for Seniors can work for you.

What Causes Unintentional Weight Loss in Older Adults?

According to the Mayo Clinic, several factors can lead to unplanned weight loss, including medical and non-medical causes, such as:

· Medical conditions that interfere with appetite or cause digestive problems

· Inability to independently buy groceries or cook

· Feeling isolate or depressed

· Problems swallowing or chewing

· Not being able to taste food properly

Effects of Unintentional Weight Loss

Significant unintentional weight loss in people that are over age 65 can have serious consequences. According to American Family Physician, weight loss of more than a 5% reduction in body weight over six to 12 months is associated with increased mortality. 

Depending on the amount of weight your lost and whether you are underweight, you may also have adverse effects, including:

· Increased risk of illness

· Muscle loss

· Decrease the ability to perform tasks of daily living

· Increased fatigue or weakness

Healthy Weight Gain for Seniors in a Safe Way

Seniors in a park, exercising and enjoying themselves

Before trying to gain weight, it’s best to talk with your doctor to determine a healthy weight gain goal. Your doctor may also give you tips on what types of food you should avoid. You may have dietary restrictions, such as a low salt or gluten-free diet if you have certain medical conditions.

But there are some general suggestions for seniors to gain weight safely, including the following:

Consider eating smaller meals more often 

In some cases, older adults may get full fast, which causes them to take in too few calories to maintain their weight. Instead of eating three large meals a day, consider eating four or five smaller meals. Also, limit how much water you drink at your meals, which may fill you up too fast. It’s important to stay well hydrated. So, be sure to drink plenty of liquids when you’re not eating a meal.

Add more flavor

According to the National Institute on Aging, our sense of smell and taste can change as we grow older. Both taste and smell affect how we enjoy food. If your taste buds and sense of smell change, you might find you have even less interest in food. To make food more appealing, consider adding spices, such as pepper, rosemary, and garlic. 

Choose foods with the right texture

Certain foods might be hard to chew or swallow if you have any problems with your teeth. If some foods are too hard to chew, swap it out for a softer version.

Add healthy fats 

In the past, fat got a bad rap. Although too much trans fat and saturated fat are unhealthy, we need a certain amount of healthy fat. Healthy fats, including polyunsaturated fat, help you maintain a healthy cholesterol level. Healthy fats also are high in calories. Consider adding olive oil, nuts, and avocados to dishes for a few extra calories. 

Get active 

It might seem that exercising would not be advisable for someone that is trying to gain weight. But staying active may help increase your appetite. Strength training may be a great option since it also helps build muscle and may help with weight gain.

Ask your doctor about supplements

If you are not getting the proper nutrients from your meals, you might need to take supplements. But before you take any type of supplement, talk with your doctor to make sure it is appropriate for you.

We hope that the tips above are helpful in maintaining a healthy weight and gaining weight if needed. If you would like more helpful information on ways to stay fit and healthy, please visit BoomersHub’s Blog’s Health & Fitness section.

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