Macros for Midlife Runners

April 22, 2021

Macros for Midlife Runners

We explore some of the natural physiological changes of ageing and how these changes may impact on a female runner and her macronutrient needs.

We consider the loss of lean body mass and the increase in fat mass and their impact on running performance, risk of injury and the development of certain health conditions.

BUT, it isn’t all negative, we also explore how nutrition, lifestyle and running could support YOU in transitioning through midlife healthy, fit and injury free so you can continue enjoying your running into older age.

LISTEN HERE Healthy Woman Healthy Runner Macros for Midlife


Macros for Midlife Runners


Introducing 2 key physiological changes occurring with age before moving on to discuss them in more detail:

  • Loss of lean body mass (muscle and bone)
  • Increase of fat mass

Highlights include:


Bone Mass:

  • Peak bone mineral density (BMD) achieved by the age of 25yrs – 30yrs
  • Reduction in BMD begins at 45yrs of age for women and 50yrs of age for men
  • BMD reduces by approx. 1% per year in women and by approx. 0.3% in men
  • Weight bearing exercise is known to support BMD


Muscle Mass:

  • Loss of muscle mass is by approx. 1%-3% per year
  • Loss of muscle mass increases to approx. 50% from aged 80yrs
  • Loss of muscle mass thought to decrease by 3% per DECADE from aged 30yrs
  • Strength exercise is known to support muscle mass


Fat Mass:

  • Fat mass increases in people during their 50s and 60s
  • Fat mass begins decreasing from age 70yrs onwards
  • Hormonal changes thought to be the principle driver of weight gain in women
  • Fat gain is thought to be less in runners (and other active people) compared to their sedentary counterparts.


Moving on to discuss the impact of the physiological changes of ageing on a female midlife runner including:

Bone Mass:

  • Increased risk of stress fracture
  • Increased risk of developing osteopenia and osteoporosis


Muscle Mass:

  • Reduction in muscle strength
  • Increased risk of injury


Fat Mass:

  • Reduced motivation for running
  • Low energy


Now considering the individual macronutrients (protein, fat and carbohydrate) and a midlife female runner’s energy needs for each:

Reduced carbohydrate need due to:

  • Lower metabolic rate
  • Potential for weight gain
  • Decline in the way carbohydrate is digested

Some tips on how to adjust carbohydrate intake are also discussed.


No change to fat need:

  • Remains at 20% of overall macronutrient intake
  • Should contain minimal saturated fats and negligible trans fats
  • Should contain mainly unsaturated fats including Omega 3 and 6 essential fats


Increased Protein need:

  • Individuals over 50yrs require 25% more protein
  • Optimal intake would be between 1.2-1.7g/Kg of body weight
  • Optimal intake would depend on demand for muscle repair, muscle remodelling and muscle adaptation of the runner


Macros for Midlife Runners

  1. The ageing process is inevitable, but diet and exercise are key lifestyle factors that could help slow down the physiological changes associated with it
  2. As we get older it is worth considering our exercise regime so it incorporates both strength and aerobic exercise to bone AND muscle mass
  3. Remember we lose approximately 1% of bone mass per year and 1-3% of muscle mass from midlife onwards.
  4. Some weight gain is inevitable as we age due to hormonal changes, however the degree of weight gain is within your control.
  5. As we lose muscle and bone mass we become more susceptible to injury and health conditions including osteopenia and osteoporosis. Being mindful of WHERE we run to prevent any falls occurring may limit our exposure to fractures, but also to muscle and other soft tissue injury.
  6. As we age our energy needs reduce so it is important to adjust our macronutrient intake accordingly to help minimise weight gain, especially considering adjusting CHO and FAT intake.
  7. Remember we require up to 25% MORE protein to support muscle building and strength.
  8. As we advance in years we can do so healthily and gracefully, if we are willing to make some tweaks to our lifestyles….so we can continue to enjoy our running from mid life into older age and the HWHR can provide the platform on which you can begin YOUR journey.

Related Episodes:

Fuelling the Ageing Runner

FOOD FOR … Hormonal Balance

Perimenopause and Performance


The suggestions we make during this episode are for guidance and advice only, and are not a substitute for medical advice or treatment. If you have any concerns regarding your health, please contact your healthcare professional for advice as soon as possible.

Remember we are available to support you if required contact us at hello@

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