How do a person’s calorie requirements change over a lifetime? Should an older person eat fewer calories or make any other changes to their diet? Our nutritionist has the answer.
Q: I’m wondering how many calories a relatively healthy 65-year-old woman needs?
Many factors, including your age, height, weight, and activity level, determine your daily calorie needs (
In general, moderately active women ages 26–50 should consume approximately 2,000 calories per day to maintain their weight and stay healthy (
That said, this range can vary widely based on the factors mentioned above.
As women age beyond 50, they generally require fewer calories to maintain their weight. This is because as people grow older, they tend to lose muscle mass and be less active (
In general, average healthy women over 60 should consume 1,600–2,200 calories to maintain their weight and stay healthy.
Women who are more active should stay on the higher end of their calorie intake range, while women who are more sedentary should stay on the lower end of their range.
However, even though your calorie needs are lower at 65 than when you were in your 20s, you still need to eat just as high or even higher amounts of certain nutrients compared with younger people.
For example, women over 65 should consume a higher proportion of their calories from protein to help prevent the muscle loss that typically occurs with age. This muscle loss is known as sarcopenia, and it’s a major cause of weakness and fractures among older adults (
In addition, other nutrients you should aim to consume more of include:
- Fiber: to help prevent bowel-related issues like constipation and diverticulitis (
- Calcium and vitamin D: to help keep your bones strong and healthy as you age (
- Vitamin B12: with age, your body may find it harder to absorb vitamin B12 (
- Iron: to prevent a deficiency and anemia, which is more common with age (
You can increase your intake of these nutrients by eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean meats, dairy products, and fish.