How many calories a day for woman aged 51?

by Linda
(Wakefield, England)

I have been trying to lose weight for 4 years - since I went into the menopause. Nothing works - no matter how much exercise I do. I cut myself down to 1200 calories a day. I went to the gym 3 times a week, plus a 30 minute walk 5 days a week, swam 1 evening a week. It got to the point where I walked on the spot while watching tv just to keep moving. No sweets, alochol etc - it was a miserable life - in 8 months I lost 2 lbs. My body did not change, I didn't even feel fitter.

My GP says 1200 calories a day is too much for someone at my age (51) even doing all that exercise - is he right? He says I just have to accept how I am and doesn't seem worried that my waistline is getting bigger and bigger. Whatever happened to preventative medicine?


Linda - Your GP should be basing his estimate of the calories you need to lose weight on your current weight and height. 1200 calories a day is quite a low amount, and would be difficult to stick to, day in day out, especially if you are not seeing the results you want.

As you say your body shape hasn't changed, I wonder if you have been including enough strength training exercise in your routine. This kind of exercise - which includes exercises with weights or resistance bands,as well as floor exercises - is crucial for women in menopause. Building well-toned muscle will make a real difference to your shape, and not only that, muscle burns calories far more efficiently than body fat.

Doing aerobic exercise is great for your heart and circulation, but for all over fitness and improved weight loss you definitely need to include strength training as well. Talk to staff at your gym and ask them to put together a program for you.

You're doing the right things by cutting out sweets and alcohol. Eat a healthy menopause diet, and stay off the junk foods.

Finally, acceptance of the way our bodies change in later life is one of the challenges of the menopausal years. You might not be able to get back to the size and shape you were 10-15 years ago, but you can have a more toned and fitter body by regulating your diet and doing the correct forms of exercise, as long as you're willing to put in the time and effort required.

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