Older couple, a man and a woman wearing blue jumpers and long black pants in a garden. Stretching and meditating

Weight Loss in Middle-Aged Adults and the Elderly


Older couple, a man and a woman wearing blue jumpers and long black pants in a garden. Stretching and meditating

Resident Sports & Spinal Dietitian, Rick-Lee Driver sat down with us and explained how weight loss strategies vary among middle-aged and elderly populations.

Introduction to Weight Loss

Obesity remains the most predominant and misunderstood chronic disease condition within our current society. The first line strategy in the management of overweight and obesity is diet and lifestyle modification. However, as our understanding of this chronic disease increases, the question arises;

Are we missing basic physiological factors contributing to the condition?

Sarcopenia is the involuntary loss of muscle mass, strength and function. After the age of 30, the average person will lose 3-8% of their lean muscle mass per decade, increasing upwards to 15% in persons 65 years or older.

An individual’s Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) can also decrease at a rate of 1-2% per decade after the age of 20. Which further contributes to the loss of lean muscle mass. This raises the question;

When exploring weight-loss strategies in overweight or obese adults over the age of 30 years, is sarcopenia and unnoticed factor inhibiting long term weight loss and maintenance?

And if so, how is long term weight loss achieved without increasing the rate of lean muscle mass and BMR decline?

The factors that should be considered when discussing weight-loss strategies in middle-aged or older adults are detailed below.


Weight loss strategies can vary significantly from oral energy restriction to behavioural change and counselling strategies. A 500-600kcal/d oral energy restriction will support a gradual weight loss (0.5kg per week) in overweight and obese adults whereas Low Energy Diets (1000-1500kcal/d).

Very Low Energy Diets (<1000kcal/d) have been shown to result in more significant weight loss (1kg per week).

Weight regain after weight loss is a common occurrence, increasing body weight by 5% with every diet cycle. This weight gain is attributed to loss of lean muscle mass and decreases in metabolic rates.

Studies show that approximately 25% of total weight loss with low energy diets is associated with loss of lean muscle mass. Very low energy diets resulting in greater lean muscle mass loss. Despite the risk of lean muscle mass loss, Low Energy Diets have an array of health improvements ranging from:

  • Insulin resistance
  • Diabetes
  • Fatty liver
  • Blood pressure
  • Weight loss

Nutrition is an essential factor in mitigating lean muscle mass loss whilst on a low energy diet, particularly for those middle-aged and older adults.

An Accredited Practicing Dietitian can assess an individual’s suitability for these programs and provide dietary or supplement guidance to protect nutritional adequacy, reduce the risk of lean muscle mass loss during oral restriction and prevent weight regain.


Dietary protein is widely recognised as the macronutrient most beneficial in lean muscle mass retention. The current recommended daily protein intake for adults between the ages of 31-50 year range between 0.75g-0.84g per kilogram per day, increasing to 0.94-1.07g per kilogram per day for those over the age of 70 years.

These recommendations are estimated to account for the amount of daily protein required to maintain lean muscle mass. However, there is increasing evidence that eating beyond this recommendation is beneficial in sarcopenic individuals.

Increasing dietary protein to between 1.7–2.3 g/kg/day has been shown to result in improvements in lean muscle mass retention paired with an oral energy restriction in these groups. Chronically high protein intakes (>3.0g/kg/d) can have adverse effects on bone metabolism, heart disease and liver function and are not recommended.

Protein supplementation should be patient-tailored and past medical history or susceptibility to renal or bone metabolism abnormalities should be considered by an Accredited Practicing Dietitian.

Resistance Movement

Exercise is traditionally divided into two categories resistance and aerobic (endurance). Resistance exercise is most recognised for its role in muscle hypertrophy (growth) and increased strength.

Including resistance exercise whilst in an energy-restricted state has been shown to reduce the proportion of lean muscle mass loss from 25% to approximately 17%. Increased intensity and volume further contribute to retention.

Studies have shown that whilst weight loss through oral energy restriction alone is similar to weight loss with resistance exercise, interventions including resistance exercise demonstrated near-complete retention of lean muscle mass.

Exercise compliance on an energy-restricted diet can vary, however, further highlighting the importance of engaging with a multidisciplinary team experienced in achieving weight goals.


Dietary restriction independently will likely result in a decrease in lean muscle mass, exacerbating the risk or progression of Sarcopenia in middle-aged and elderly adults.

Reduced lean muscle mass will negatively impact basal metabolic rates and likely result in weight regain following the weight loss attempt. Protein intake whilst on an energy-restricted diet will help maintain lean muscle mass in combination with the resistance movement.

Engaging with a specialised Medical and Allied Health team will increase the success of long term weight loss, muscle retention and basal metabolic rate in middle-aged and elderly patients.

The potential risks and benefits of weight loss should be considered on an individual basis when considering the implementation of an energy-restricted diet for elderly persons.

If you're feeling that you may require more support and guidance with your weight loss journey, contact your nearest Sports and Spinal location and speak with our friendly admin team.

Written By Dietitian, Ricki-Lee Driver

Ricki-lee is passionate about supporting and empowering clients to achieve their health-related goals. Ricki-lee graduated with an Honours in Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of the Sunshine Coast.

Ricki-Lee is available for appointments at our Nambour and Coolum Clinics, Book Now

A variety of plant-based milks, nuts, grains, and coconut spread across a bench

Plant-based Protein Sources

A variety of plant-based milks, nuts, grains, and coconut spread across a bench

Sports & Spinal Dietitian, Georgia Volz explains what plant-based proteins are and how they work when substituting them for meat-based proteins.

Each protein source consists of a specific sequence of amino acids. These amino acids are the small "building blocks" of larger protein structures. There are 20 different amino acids that can be combined to make a protein. Protein is required for a number of processes in the body including cell structure, transport of other essential nutrients, enzymes, hormones and the immune system.

There are 9 amino acids that are labelled "essential". This means that our bodies cannot produce them, so we need to consume them from foods. Examples of complete proteins include quinoa, buckwheat and soy.  Aim for a variety of sources throughout the week to ensure you meet your protein requirements.

How much do we need?

Requirements vary for each person depending on age, muscle mass, activity and certain medical conditions or illnesses. The average recommended intake is 0.8-1g per kg of body weight per days.


Calcium is essential for strong bones and heart function. When using plant-based dairy alternatives, look for products fortified with calcium – about 300mg per serve.


B12 is required to convert carbohydrates to energy and is important for red blood cell production and maintains the protective coating of our nerves. It is commonly found in animal proteins and in small amounts in fortified cereals, plant kinds of milk and nutritional yeast. B12 is very difficult to absorb so often a supplement is beneficial in vegan diets together with food sources.


“Heme” iron from animal proteins is better absorbed by the body. “Non-heme” iron from plant-based foods contain phytates found in grains, nuts, seeds and legumes which can interfere with iron absorption. Soaking these foods can help reduce phytate content.

Tannins can also block iron absorption so it’s best to avoid having tea, coffee and red wine within 30 minutes of meals to allow the best iron absorption.

Daily requirements vary between 8mg for men and 18mg for women. Pregnant women require 27mg per day. Vegan diets, due to the nature of poor iron absorption require 1.8x as much.

5-6 mg iron per serving

  • Tofu (100g)
  • Chickpeas (100g)

2-3mg iron per serve

  • Beans (most varieties), cooked (1/2 cup)
  • Spinach, cooked (½ cup)
  • Edamame, cooked (½ cup)
  • Cashews, pine nuts, pistachios (50g)
  • Iron-fortified cereals (40g)

Boost iron absorption by having vitamin C with meals – citrus fruits, strawberries, tomato and red capsicum.


Written By Georgia Volz- Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD)

If you or someone you know may need assistance with their diet and health contact your nearest clinic and have a chat with our admin team. We offer our Dietitian service across a range of our locations, find your nearest Dietitian here.

7 SSP new grads standing in a room watching something (this is not shown) They are all smiling and are wearing navy polos and black pants.

A New Graduate Program That Works

Sports and Spinal New graduate team 2021. Approx. 20 new grads and 2x mentors all with their arms in the air, smiling at the camera. some are knelt down and the rest are standing behind them. All wearing navy blue shirst, mixture of boys and girl


Sports and Spinal offers a new graduate program that is second to none within the Allied Health community. With an aim to Inspire, Empower, and Engage with everyone we work with, Sports & Spinal looks to continually raise the bar within the allied health industry.

We know firsthand how important providing new graduates with adequate support and mentoring is in order for them to be confident in their field and profession.

But, how is Sports & Spinal different?

Having a patient and community focus, supporting numerous charities, and our life-long commitment to ensuring our teams have access to endless career pathways are all important to us. But, we know that other Allied Health providers share the same focuses.

We as a company, allied health provider, and brand place our core values at the centre of everything we do. What are they?

  • Respect All
  • Be Memorable
  • Collaborate & Grow
  • Innovate For The Future
  • Show The Love


Standing out from the crowd

Our values not only guide how we operate but also how we empower our teams to be the best clinicians that they can be which is clearly evident through our new grad program. Our new grads want to be part of a workplace that they love coming to every single day and through our values and standards we are providing just that.

"Firstly, what a blessing to be apart of the Sports & Spinal crew. Secondly, the unique training prior to starting in the clinic was incredible. I feel supported on my journey into the world of private practice. To be exposed to a true multi-disciplinary approach and contacts across all fields; including GP’s and surgeons allows the practice to be client centered."

Zoe Divall- 2021 New Graduate Physiotherapist

This is just the start. Sports & Spinal is committed to improving its new graduate program to ensure that we assist our teams and graduates as best we can. We achieve this through continual team feedback, catching up with teams, and analyzing the ever-changing health industry.

We are currently recruiting our 2022 new grads across our 18 locations and we are pumped to have new blood join our growing team. Stay up to date with all our new grad news via our socials.

LinkedIn: Sports and Spinal Group, Instagram: @sports.and.spinal and Facebook: Sports& Spinal


Blad man smiling with glasses, red polo and his name is Peter

Meet Our Dietitian Peter!

Assorted fruits in bowls that are placed on a table (Honey dew, Peaches, Nectarines, Rockmelon)





Peter is an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) and Sports Dietitian (AccSD) who is passionate about a client-centered approach to nutrition; tailoring advice and plans to the individual.

With a background in sport science and an extensive history of cycling, Peter enjoys working with athletes and active people from all sports at all levels and all ages from teenagers to masters and beyond. Peter is also accredited in anthropometry (taking skinfolds) and sweat testing.

Peter’s interests lie not only in sport. He enjoys helping people from all walks of life to meet their nutritional goals by tailoring advice to their individual circumstances.

Particular interests to Peter include:

  • Nutrition plans tailored to the individual
  • Sports Nutrition: endurance sports specialist (cycling, running, tri), ultra-endurance, event nutrition, active teenager nutrition, recovery nutrition, fat loss, muscle gain, team sports, sweat testing
  • Malnutrition management (weight gain)
  • Diabetes management
  • Coeliac Disease
  • IBS
  • DVA clients
  • Correcting nutritional deficiencies
  • Balancing body composition goals and training recovery
  • Chronic Disease management and NDIS
  • Sustainable weight loss
  • Junior sports nutrition and everyday eating
  • Race planning
  • Advice for the traveling athlete
  • Presentations and Training Camps

If you have any questions for Peter you can contact our St Lucia Sports & Spinal clinic on (07) 3871 0633 or alternatively, you can book in with Peter here.

A hande picking up a slice of Banana and chocolate chip cake.

Chocolate Chip & Banana Slice

A person's hands mixing butter, flour, and eggs in a metal stainless steel bowel. There are eggs on the kitchen bench and spilt over flour

The Sports & Spinal Dietitian team has given us their amazing guilt-free Chocolate Chip & Banana Slice Recipe!


  • 5 bananas
  • 1/3 cup of brown sugar
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ¾ cup wholemeal flour
  • ½ cup coconut shredded
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 5 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ cup choc chips


  1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees and grease a tray
  2. Mash bananas in a large bowl until soft.
  3. Mix in sugar, oil, milk, and eggs. Add in dry ingredients. Fold in ¼ cup of choc chips.
  4. Pour batter into greased tray and sprinkle remaining choc chips over top.
  5. Bake for roughly 20 minutes or until the skewer comes out clean.
  6. ENJOY 🤍

Head to our Instagram account for Dietitian Approved recipes or scroll through our blog to find many more!

Papaya and a red juice on a timber rectangular board. All placed on a bed with white linen sheets and next to a bunch of yellow flowers and a book that that open

Diet & Rehabilitation

Papaya and a red juice on a timber recatangualr board. All placed on a bed with white linen sheets and next to a bunch of yellow flowers and a book that that open

If you have sustained an injury your first thought may be to book in for some physical therapy with the intentions of restoration of movement, improvement of function and strength, and the prevention and the promotion of health, wellness, and fitness.

Which is great! But did you know that nutrition can also play a role here?  Your diet can have a significant impact on your physical therapy goals and the overall rate of recovery.

As nutrition plays an essential role in injury recovery and rehabilitation, combine this with physical therapy treatment pathways after injury, surgery, or those with low strength or tone, and you are bound to see some great results.

How Can Nutrition Help?

Nutrition can play a crucial component in controlling; inflammation, providing key nutrients for rebuilding injured tissue, minimising muscle loss, and supporting strength preservation and muscle gain.

During rehabilitation, higher protein consumption is recommended, with an emphasis on consuming higher amounts of leucine and amino acid. This stress factor can also increase metabolic energy demands from about 20% for minor injuries and surgeries to 100% for more severe bodily insults such as burns.

Loss of lean body mass is an independent risk factor for increased length of hospital stay, whereas malnutrition, especially of protein can lead to delayed wound healing and increase risk of post-surgical infection.

How a Dietitian Can Help You On Your Rehabilitation Journey

How A Dietitian Can help at various stages of rehabilitation

How A Dietitian Can Be Involved From Start To Finish

  1. Pre-Operative:
  • Increase in caloric requirements secondary to this hypermetabolic state (cascade of inflammatory, immune and metabolic processes are activated)
  1. Post-Operative:
  • Adequate calories and protein to aid in wound healing and prevent loss of lean muscle mass. In addition to macro and micro-nutrient optimisation for recovery
  1. Healing Phase:
  • Reinforcing the facts


If you feel that a Dietitian could assist you in your rehabilitation journey or you would like to learn more about what are Dietitians treat click here or call your nearest Sports & Spinal clinic today!

Written by Dietitian, Rachael Gilholm


Vegan Substitutes- Are They Better For You?

A young woman with brown hair is wearing a face mask and is carrying a shopping basket. She is reaching for a lemon from a fruit store

Following a plant-based diet high in fibre and reducing red meat intake can have many beneficial effects for our health and wellbeing – reducing risks of bowel cancers and other chronic diseases. However, as more people are adopting a vegan diet, there are now many more plant-based alternatives on the market.

Vegan products are not always healthier!

Of course for ethical reasons, choosing the plant-based option may be preferred however it’s important to know what to look for when choosing a suitable alternative.

Why do we need dairy?

Recommended daily intake of dairy products varies between 2-3 serves per day depending on the individual. Dairy provides our bodies with many important nutrients including calcium and vitamin D. Dairy is also a great source of protein! It also contains a small number of saturated fats which is something to consider reducing if you have elevated cholesterol levels.

Vegan cheese and Dairy cheese are being compared against one another in terms of protein, sat fat, and sodium

As you can see

the vegan alternative has almost no protein, no calcium, and a whopping 19g of saturated fat! It is also much higher in sodium. Not something you would expect from a plant-based product however vegan dairy often uses coconut oils which are surprisingly very high in saturated fats.

Compared to regular low-fat cheese, it doesn’t provide many nutritional benefits aside from satisfying that cheesy flavour.

You can definitely achieve adequate nutritional intake through a vegan diet, though it’s important to make sure you are getting the right nutrients elsewhere in the diet.

Who can help me to achieve a sustainable vegan diet?

A trusted and qualified Dietitian can! There is so much information out there but it is always best to speak with a qualified Dietitian. They know best when to comes to implementing dietary changes as well as what will be best for YOU! Because not all diets suit everyone's health and wellbeing needs.

Finds your nearest Sports & Spinal Dietitian HERE and see how they can help you 💙


Written By Dietitian, Georgia Volz

Three square pieces of caramel slice stacked up on one another. On a white marble benchtop.

Healthy Caramel Slice

A person's hands mixing flour, butter, and eggs in a metal bowl. Eggs on a kitchen bench and flour spilt over.

Try our simple, easy, and healthy caramel slice recipe that the whole family will love!


Slice Base

  • 1 cup plain/ wholemeal flour
  • 100g fresh dates, pitted, chopped (roughly 5 dates)
  • 2 tbsp cacao powder
  • 5 tbsp condensed milk
  • Pinch of salt

 Slice Middle

  • 1 cup of cashews
  • 250 fresh dates, pitted and chopped (roughly 11)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • ¼ cup condensed milk

Slice Topping

  • 2 cups of dark choc chips, melted


  1. Place cashews for caramel filling in a bowl with cold water, leave to soak for roughly 2 hours and then drain.
  2. Grease or line a brownie tray.
  3. Process all base ingredients together in a food processor until a sticky mixture forms. Press into the pan firmly and set aside.
  4. Place ingredients for the middle layer in a food processor and blend until the mixture is nice, smooth, and well combined.
  5. Pour the mixture over the base and place in the fridge until set.
  6. Once the mixture is set. Heat chocolate chips over a stove until melted and pour over slice evenly. Place in fridge to set.
  7. ENJOY 🤍

Mediterranean foods on a chopping board

Diet & Inflammation-Advice from our Expert Dietitian

Mediterranean foods on a chopping board Eating an anti-inflammatory diet allows you to naturally reduce the level of systemic inflammation in your body through the foods you eat. Paired with appropriate lifestyle changes, medical interventions (where necessary), and addressing the underlying cause of your inflammation, improvements in your overall health & wellbeing, body function, and pain levels can be achieved.

Sports & Spinal Dietitian, Ricki-Lee Driver has provided her top tips to reduce inflammation and has also provided some factors to consider.














Some simple dietary choices that you can implement into your diet to help reduce increased inflammation include:



Plant-based Omega-s: Aim for 1 serving per day

  • 1/4 regular avocado
  • 30g unsalted nuts
  • 1 tablespoon natural nut butter

Marine Omega-s: Aim for 3x (150-200mg) serving per day

  • Salmon, sardines, mussels, tuna, mackerel

Extra virgin olive oil

  • Aim for 2-4 tablespoons per day


  • Wholegrain grains, bread, and cereals
  • 6 serves of vegetables per day
  • 2-3 fruits per day
  • Eat a rainbow of colours
  • Aim for 30 different plant foods daily
  • Aim for 3 serves (1 cup) of beans or legumes per week



  • Maintain adequate protein
  • Reduce intake of high energy, nutrient-poor foods
  • Engage in regular physical activity, including regular resistance training
  • Reduce alcohol input
  • Consume regular meals
  • Aim for 2L water per day
  • Discuss a safe and appropriate fat mass reduction strategy with your accredited practicing dietitian
  • Incorporate regular stress management strategies into your lifestyle (yoga, meditation, tai chi, mindfulness)


  • Discuss these with your accredited practicing dietitian

These recommendations should be discussed with an accredited practicing dietitian. This will ensure that an individually tailored approach is designed that is safe for your personal circumstances is established.

Other medical conditions may alter these recommendations for an individual. If you feel you or someone you know may need assistance with their diet and Inflammation, call your nearest Sports & Spinal Clinic to see how our Dietitians can help you OR click here to learn more.


Written by Accredited Practicing Dietitian, Ricki-Lee Driver 

Graphic of sad girl standing in the rain

National Pain Week 2021

Graphic of sad woman in the rain

It is National Pain Week all this week (July 26- August 1). National Pain Week is an annual awareness event coordinated each year by Chronic Pain Australia. This year's theme is centered around connection and it encourages people to connect with their bodies and to acknowledge their pain.

What is Chronic Pain?

Pain is an unpleasant or uncomfortable body experience caused by activation of the nervous system. It is typically caused by a known injury or illness, but sometimes the cause of the pain can be unknown.

Most of us will experience acute pain from time to time. It often occurs following surgery, trauma, or short-term illness and usually lasts for a short time before the body heals and the pain goes away.

Chronic or persistent pain is pain that lasts for more than three months, or in many cases, beyond normal healing time.

Chronic pain can be a symptom of a known illness or injury it can also exist without a clear reason at all. Sometimes the long-term nature of the pain is not indicating ongoing disease or damage.

- Chronic Pain Australia 2021

The Stats

  • 1 in 5 Australians live with chronic pain - including adolescents and children.
  • This includes 1 in 3 people over the age of 65.
  • 1 in 5 GP consultations involve a patient with chronic pain and almost 5% report severe, disabling chronic pain.
  • The prevalence of chronic pain is projected to increase as Australia's population ages-from around 3.2 million in 2007 to 5 million by 2050.

Connection is Key

⁠National Pain Week 2021 aims to remind friends, family, and professionals that connection is key to addressing the social isolation that pain can create.

People living with chronic pain often feel isolated by their pain. ⁠Hence, encouraging connection is a key way for those suffering from chronic pain to seek support and advice. This is to help sufferers not ignore their pain and suffering in silence. ⁠

Many people live with chronic pain 24/7. It is debilitating, exhausting, and has an impact on all parts of a person’s life. Living like this takes courage and strength and could be referred to as “putting up with” the pain. The pain is in control and unpredictable.⁠

How we can Help

⁠There are many different treatments available for people trying to manage their pain, and different people will respond to these in different ways. ⁠At Sports & Spinal we have a range of Allied Health professionals including Physiotherapists, Exercise Physiologists, Podiatrists, Dietitians, and Psychologists that can assist you throughout your pain journey.

Call your nearest clinic to see how we can help💙⁠