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Food and recipes to combat weight loss

13th December 2019

As we grow older our sense of hunger and appetite can fade. Combined with reducing activity, this can create a cycle where we start to lose our muscle tissue.

As our muscles get smaller our ability to exercise reduces and this speeds up muscle loss. Ultimately, a loss of muscle and poor nutrition makes us prone to falls and illness.

Our diet needs change as we age, especially if we are losing weight. This page has a number of recommendations and recipes specially designed for people who are losing weight without meaning to.


Tips for diet and nutrition

Consume High Protein & Energy Foods

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Eating enough as we age means being able to maintain a healthy weight and even having a little extra weight in reserve for times of illness or injury.

Lack of activity and the wrong diet can lead to a loss of muscle and a greater risk of illness or injury.

If you are losing weight unintentionally the keys are to:

  • Maintain a high protein intake (1 gram per kilogram of body weight per day is the minimum recommended for over 50s)
  • Maintain a sufficient energy intake

High protein foods include:

  • Beef, pork, fish and chicken
  • Eggs and dairy products e.g. milk, cheese, yoghurt
  • Beans, legumes, nuts
  • Some meat alternatives e.g. tofu, vegetarian sausages
  • Protein supplements

High energy foods include:

  • Cooking oils
  • Full cream dairy products
  • Margarine, butter
  • Salad dressing (not low fat)
  • Cordial, chocolates, sweets, ice cream
  • Nutritional supplements e.g. Sustagen, Resource Plus, Ensure Plus (these are also high in protein)

Consider Supplements

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The use of nutritional supplements (ready-made drinks or powders which are mixed with water or milk) is not the ideal way to manage unexpected weight loss and should only be considered when other ways of getting the nutrition we need through food has failed.

The Food First approach of eating small but frequent, high energy, high protein snacks and meals is the best option for older people because it also acts to maintain teeth and bowel heath.

If you do need to use supplements, the highest quality are those prepared by dieticians for hospital patients. Products such as Sustagen Blue - it will provide 945kJ and 13.8g of protein for a $1.80/serve. Revival’s range of protein drinks are available from most supermarkets and will give you about 1100kJ and 30g of protein per serve for about $4 for 375ml.

Depending on your situation, some of the powdered supplements may be subsidized if recommended by your doctor, so check with your GP.

The use of more concentrated protein supplements should also be under the direction of your doctor as they affect your medications.

A number of studies have found older people who have unintentional weight loss are not only need more protein and kilojoules but also need vitamins and minerals. If you have lost weight without trying, any supplement should be targeted you and directed by your doctor. While a multivitamin might not do any harm, it may not be the best solution for you. Speak to your doctor.

Frequency VS Size

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If you don’t feel like eating a lot, eat more often. Aim for six small meals rather than three big meals a day.


All Recipes & Diet Resources

These recipes will support maintaining good nutrition for those who have lost weight or at risk of frailty.
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Apple Crumble


Apple crumble that serves 4. Not in my house. It serves one person (me) four times...

Baked Beans on Toast


Looking back, I wish I'd bought my baked beans online...
Heinz site's a wonderful thing...

Spinach Pie

Lunch, Dinner

Why do spinach leaves never feel lonely? Because they always come in bunches..

Pumpkin & Bacon Soup

Lunch, Dinner

What is a pumpkin’s favorite sport?

Protein Bars


Protein bars are a fast and convenient way to get more protein – which can increase protein synthesis, muscle mass and keep fat...

Creamy Rice Pudding


The main ingredient in rice pudding isn't actually rice. It's milk.

Tuna Melt on English Muffins


In England, English Muffins are called "muffins"...

Scrambled Eggs


You can't beat eggs! But if you do, they end up scrambled... so you can beat eggs, it turns out.

Extra Creamy Porridge


Stovetop or Microwave this is an easy, delicious breakfast was once described as "the backbone of many a sturdy Scotsman" You c...

Meat and Cheese Salad

Lunch, Dinner

A great salad is a thing of beauty. Forgive me if we've already been over this, and I know it doesn't matter, but what exactly ...



Making delicious, fluffy omelettes in exciting varieties is surely a skill to treasure.

Nutty Butter Sandwich

Snacks, Breakfast, Lunch

The only thing better than peanut butter is a peanut-butter sandwich.

Easy Chocolate Mousse


It's the perfect midweek treat, especially if you're into chocolate, and let's face it, who isn't?

White Chocolate & Raspberry Ricotta Jaffle

Snacks, Breakfast, Dessert

Jaffle maker, check! Easy recipe, check! 10 mins to spare, check! Delicious snack, check!

Fruit Smoothie

Breakfast, Snacks

Tasty, nutritious and fun, and a great way to include fruit

Crackers and Spreads


Who doesn’t love a few crackers with dips or cheese in the afternoon? Cheese is a great source of protein and aged and blue che...

Chocolate Milkshake


Mmmmm, chocolate!

Spanish Frittata

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Ola! Serve warm, serve cold and enough for 4 people!

Cheesey Tuna Rice

Lunch, Dinner

Like Cheese? Like Tuna? Well get into this warming and comforting tuna dish. Serves 4 people, and will freeze the leftovers.

Bread and Butter Pudding


A great way to use left over bread. This takes a bit of time but its time well spent!

Penne Alfredo with Salmon


Cheesy and delicious and great way to eat Salmon. Serves 6 people.

Beef Stroganoff


Creamy beef stroganoff, perfect with pasta or cooked rice, and plenty for 4 serves (so you can stock up the freezer for a quick...

Chicken Curry


An easy chicken curry, which serves 4 and ready in about 30 mins!

Beef Casserole


2 hours, to make a delicious casserole - serves 5, and perfect for freezing!

Chicken Noodle Soup

Lunch, Dinner

An easy Chicken noodle soup perfect for lunch, and all in less than 25 minutes!

French toast


Fast. Tasty. Delicious. In France, this is called "Toast". Serves one, and easy to make more!