Your nutritional needs, metabolism, and activity levels change as you age, and so should your diet.
While you’ll likely have the same late-night cravings in your 40s as you did when you were in college, your nutritional needs will shift with each passing decade. But it’s hard to know which foods are a good fit for you without understanding how, exactly, your body is changing. (FYI: You should change your workout as you get older, too.)
Here, we compiled all of our expert-backed tips to make an age diet chart and meal plan that will help you establish a healthy lifestyle, whether you’re 25 or 45. (BTW, these anti-aging foods will make you stay healthy and look younger.)
Nutrition in Your 20s
You’re working your first real job, making new friends, dating, getting married, maybe even starting a family. Your life is a whirlwind, which means healthy eating is the first thing to go. To conquer your biggest nutritional dilemmas:
Make fast food healthy. Researchers at Brown University Medical School found that 20-somethings eat 25 percent more fast-food meals than they did in their teens. Grabbing dinner on the go means you may be missing out on crucial nutrients, says Bonnie Taub-Dix, R.D., a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. Slave over the stove? Nah. Choose healthy convenience foods rotisserie chicken, shrimp cocktail, steamed dumplings, salads and enjoy them with speedy additions from your kitchen€” like whole wheat pasta, instant brown rice, frozen veggies. (If you’re looking for a quick homemade meal, try meal prepping.)
Drink to your health. Margaritas, mojitos, and cosmos can add up faster than you can say cheers. Enter light beer (110 calories in a 12-ounce bottle). It’s filling, so you’re less likely to want a second, and it takes a good long time to drink. (Also consider the health benefits of giving up alcohol—or just drinking less.)
Key Nutrients You Need Now
- Protein: Protein helps keep you full and provides the building blocks so you can make and keep muscle. “Recent studies suggest that, at a minimum, we need 60 to 70 grams of protein a day,” says Leslie Bonci, M.P.H., R.D., director of sports medicine at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Get your quota by eating skinless white-meat poultry, lean steak, fish, eggs, beans, tofu, and low-fat dairy. (Here’s more on how much protein you really need per day.)
- Potassium: In order for your muscles and heart to function properly, you need to consume a hefty dose of potassium. But most women in their 20s get less than half the recommended amount, according to the USDA. Munching on two cups of fruit (like an apple, a banana, and plain yogurt with fresh strawberries) and two and a half cups of veggies daily (like a garden salad and a side of broccoli) will help you get all the potassium you need.