People freak out when they hear the word calories. This word has gained such bad reputation on causing weight gain that people think it is best to avoid calories at all cost. You gain weight when you take in too much calories more than you burn through physical activities.

Calorie is a unit of energy a food provides for your body. Foods that contain fats and carbohydrates are your main dietary sources of energy and the amount of energy they provide is counted as calories. As a general rule of thumb, an average person should have a calorie intake of 2,000 grams per day.

But, for an older adult with decreased physical activities and slower metabolic rate, you may need to lower your daily calorie intake.

How Much Calorie Do Adults Over 50 Needs?

Your daily calorie intake varies depending on your daily physical activities. Remember that unused energy will be stored as fats and too much fat is not good for your body. You should not eat more than you can burn.

For a woman over 50 who is not physically active, you need to a daily calorie intake of 1,600 grams. If you are fairly active, you need 1,880 grams of calorie per day. If you’re highly active, you need 2,000 to 2,200 grams of calorie per day.

If you’re a man with a sedentary lifestyle, your daily recommended calorie intake is 2,000 grams. If you’re a bit active, you need 3,000 to 2,200 calories per day. If you maintain a very active lifestyle, you need a calorie intake of 2,400 to 2,800 calories per day.

If you aim to be physically active, exercise at least 150 minutes per week. Brisk walking, swimming, and jogging are great aerobic exercises for older adults. Aerobic exercises will help you burn calories and it is also good for the heart.

To make it easier for you, you can divide the 150 minutes into about 25 minutes per day then split the 25 minutes in two by exercising for 15 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes in the afternoon. Whatever suits your schedule. But before you start any exercise program, ask your doctor first especially if you suffer from medical conditions or recently underwent surgery.

Make Smart Food Choices

Apart from controlling your calorie intake, you should also be concerned on what foods you get your calories from.

There are three main dietary sources of calories, carbohydrates, fats, and protein. According to diet experts, you should get 55 percent of your daily calorie need from carbohydrates which contain four calories per gram.

When inside your gut, carbohydrates break down into simple or complex sugars. Foods with simple sugars or simple carbs are white bread and pasta, candies, soft drinks, pastries, and some fruits.

Since simple carbohydrates are easily broken down and absorbed into the blood stream, they are likely to cause sugar spikes. To add, simple carbohydrates are mostly made of refined grains which are stripped off of fiber and other important nutrients during the refining process.

Simple carbohydrates are not ideal sources of calories. Choose to eat foods containing complex carbohydrates instead. These foods include whole grains, barley, brown rice, sweet potatoes, and lentils.

Your next source of calories is fats. This nutrient is vital for vitamin absorption and it is used by your body to form cell membranes. Dietary guidelines recommend that 30 percent of your daily calorie intake should come from fats which contain 9 calorie per gram.

Choose foods rich in unsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, such as nuts, seeds, oils, and fatty fish. Avoid high consumption of dairy and dairy products because they are rich in saturated fats. Too much saturated fat can increase your cholesterol levels which are bad for your heart.

You will get the remaining 15 percent of your daily calorie need from protein. The primary source of protein is meat, but you can also get it from plant foods such as soy, grains, nuts, and seeds.

When creating your diet plan based on your daily calorie intake, you should also consider getting other key nutrients your body needs. It is best to include varied food sources mainly consisting of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Avoid processed foods that are far less nutritious and high in sugar.