by Ali Holman
As we get older not only do our lives change, but also our nutritional requirements. Fox 9 Fitness Expert Ali Holman shares tips on staying healthy in your 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and beyond.
Your life is a whirlwind, most likely with new jobs, new relationships and a busy social schedule--which often means healthy eating is the first initiative to be dropped. Ali suggests first to make fast-food healthy. Research shows that people in their 20's eat 25% more fast food than they did as kids. So choose healthy convenience foods like rotisserie chicken and salads. When eating at home, opt for budget-friendly healthy options like whole wheat pasta, instant brown rice, frozen veggies.
Protein: Protein helps keep you full and provides the building blocks so you can make and keep calorie-burning muscle. Get your quota by eating skinless white-meat poultry, lean steak, fish, eggs, beans, tofu, and low-fat dairy.
Potassium: Your muscles and heart need it to function properly. But most women in their 20s get less than half the recommended amount, according to the USDA. Munching two cups of fruit and two and a half cups of veggies daily (a garden salad and a side of broccoli) provides all the potassium you need.
Omega-3 fats: They may boost the level of serotonin, a feel-good chemical in your brain. Salmon and tuna are the best source, but you can also get your fill from walnuts, ground flaxseed, and canola oil.
Many of us in our 30's are juggling the demands of kids and career -- and most likely eating on the run. Make your initiative to put your health first, even if you don't think you have the time. In your 30s you start to see signs of an unhealthy lifestyle, such as diabetes or hypertension. Dropping 10 percent of your weight can slash your risk of these diseases.
Folate: It's critical for supporting a healthy pregnancy and may also help reduce the risk of heart disease. Eat foods such as chickpeas, asparagus, spinach, broccoli, avocados, orange juice, and fortified whole grains to help meet your daily 400-microgram requirement.
Phytonutrients: These have antioxidants, which slow the aging process, ward off heart disease, and prevent changes in DNA, potentially preventing the development of cancer. Think dark chocolate, red wine, and coffee are highest in them--Use in moderation.
Iron: Not enough leaves you physically drained and forgetful. Get your daily dose of 18 milligrams from foods such as clams, lean beef, fortified breakfast cereal, soybeans, pumpkin seeds, and skinless poultry.
Women in their 40's actually take a more active role in their health and fitness than women in their 20's and 30's.
If your belly seems a little rounder, blame it on estrogen withdrawal. In her childbearing years, a woman puts on weight in her rear, hips and thighs to fuel breastfeeding. The fat cells in those areas have estrogen receptors. As you go through estrogen withdrawal, those receptors aren't being activated anymore." That signals your body to sock away the fat in your tummy.
Ali recommends doing interval training 20 minutes a day/5 days per week.
Also make it your goal to cut just 100 calories a day. For every decade after 40, there's roughly a 1 percent decrease in calorie requirements. That's the equivalent of one extra cookie. Eating every three to four hours to keep your metabolism revved can also help keep off the weight.
Calcium: As you approach menopause, bone-building estrogen starts to decline and calcium becomes more important. Aim for 1,000 milligrams a day from low-fat dairy such as greek yogurt, string cheese, almond milk and supplements.
Vitamin D: This nutrient helps your body absorb calcium, keeps your immune system strong, protects against breast and colon cancers, and even prevents hearing loss. But by the time you reach your 40s, levels of D quickly start to plummet. Your best bet: a daily supplement of 600 to 1,000 international units.
Fiber: It reduces bloat and makes you feel fuller longer. Aim for a mix of soluble (from fruits, vegetables, barley, and oats), and insoluble (from whole wheat bread and bran).
For the first time in years you have more time for yourself. Freed from the demands of raising small children, you even may be cooking less and eating out more.
On the inside you're experiencing major shifts too. You may start to notice a slower metabolism and digestive system. Part of this is normal aging, but how radically these things affect your body depends on how well you eat the right foods and get lots of physical activity.
What you can do:
A smarter strategy: Rearrange your meals, feasting by day and nibbling by night. That means a 300- to 400-calorie breakfast and a 400- to 500-calorie lunch, with a 200- to 250-calorie afternoon snack. Eating those calories earlier will make it easier to enjoy a small dinner out -- an appetizer and a side salad, say -- without going overboard.
Fresh vegetables: Are high in natural fiber and will prevent you from depositing fat around your stomach.
Watermelon: Or other water-based fruits like grapes, which keep up the natural water content in your body.