These are the dietary swaps women over 40 should make to meet the changes in their metabolism, lose weight, boost your health and feel great.
1. Chose the Right Fats
Contrary to what you may believe, new evidence shows that choosing the right fat is key to staying healthy, keeping your calorie count down, lowering your cardiovascular risk and results in glowing skin and shiny hair.
Fat may be higher in calories than carbohydrates or protein, but it satisfies your hunger. People tend to lose more weight and keep it off on a calorie-reduced diet that contains healthy fats rather than a diet that’s low in fat. That’s why the best diets for women include a source of healthy fat at each meal and snack.
The key is to choose the right fat, so you need to focus on unsaturated fats, particularly anti-inflammatory omega-3s. One study found that omega-3s are also helpful in stimulating muscle protein synthesis to preserve muscle mass as you age. Seafood sources of omega-3s such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, and fish oil supplements provide forms of omega-3s known as EPA and DHA, the types that your body can use most easily (and the types with plenty of research backing).
Other good sources of unsaturated fats could be, two teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil, two tablespoons of raw nuts or seeds like, walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and hemp seeds which provide ALA omega-3s or half an avocado.
Plant-based sources are not taken up as efficiently as fish – the ALA in plant fats need to be converted to EPA and DHA. Eating at least two servings of omega-3-rich fish every week covers you for your daily recommendation of 500-1,000 mg.
2. Chose Lean Protein
To keep your metabolism working at its best and keep your cravings at bay by making you feel full for longer, getting enough protein is important. That means you can lose weight or maintain your weight without being constantly hungry. Protein-rich foods are among the top foods to eat to lose weight. For the best diet approach, make sure each meal and snack has a source of protein such as chicken, fish, lean pork or beef, tofu, tempeh, beans, and lentils, or dairy products like milk, cottage cheese, and plain yogurt.
One study found that premenopausal women who ate 30 percent of their calories from protein (half of which was from dairy foods) for 16 weeks lost more fat and gained more muscle than those who ate a lower protein diet. That result continues with age, as other studies have found that people who eat more protein lose less muscle as they get older. That’s key to preventing your metabolism from slowing down. It’s all about maintaining your muscle mass and even building more muscle with resistance exercise and getting enough protein.
Don’t make the mistake of only getting your protein at dinner as your body can only use about 30 grams of protein at a time, so you want to evenly distribute protein sources throughout the day.
To meet the 30 gram mark at each meal, try having an omelette at breakfast, 3/4 cup of plain Greek yogurt or cottage cheese at snacks, add a palm-sized serving of fish, chicken or tofu to your salad and keep the dinner portion of protein foods palm-sized too.
3. Chose Calcium
Don’t forget to get enough calcium: this key nutrient can help prevent osteoporosis, and it may also help you manage your weight. Higher calcium diets are linked to being slimmer and to more effective weight loss, especially around the waist.
Calcium is essential for building new bone, so getting enough is important for boosting bone regrowth as you age. You also need to get enough vitamin D to make sure you’re absorbing calcium.
Without enough calcium and vitamin D, your bone regrowth can’t keep up with what’s being broken down, putting you at risk for osteoporosis, bone fractures, and broken bones as you age.
Adult women need at least 1,000 mg calcium and 600 IU vitamin D daily. Choose plenty of calcium-rich foods such as dairy products, fortified milk alternatives like almond milk, leafy greens, and tofu made with calcium sulphate. These calcium-rich foods are guaranteed fat burners.
Very few foods naturally contain high amounts of vitamin D. Fatty fish and fish liver oils are the best food sources, though if these don’t make a regular appearance in your diet, you’ll want to look for vitamin D fortified foods or discuss vitamin D supplements with a registered dietitian or your doctor.
4. Chose to Downsize Portions
As you get older, your metabolism starts to slow, so your body uses fewer calories to go through daily activities. That means it’s more important than ever to watch portions and avoid overeating.
Eating a balanced diet ensures that you get all the nutrients you need to feel full and satisfied, so that keeping portion sizes under control becomes much easier.
Know what you are eating – it is important to read the nutrition information and stick to the right serving.
Why don’t you split restaurant meals, which tend to be much more food than you need to be satisfied, or reserve half to take home for lunch the next day.
Make a point of eating slowly and stopping when you feel satisfied, why not drink a glass of water while eating and giving yourself enough time to relax and enjoy your meal is always important.
A good tip is reducing the size of your serving plate, why not use a side plate instead of a mains plate.
5. Chose the Right Macro-Nutrient Ratio
As you age it is important to boost your protein towards the higher end of your macro range and keeping carbohydrates and fat at the lower end. Shifting your macro-nutrients towards more protein, fibre and healthy fats and less carbohydrates can help you control calories and stay lean.
To achieve a better macro-nutrient ratio, don’t worry about counting macros with fancy apps. All you need to do is break down your meals like this: centre your meals around non-starchy vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, kale, peppers, zucchini, mushrooms and green beans. Fill at least half of your plate with these lower calorie, high-fibre foods to satisfy hunger and pack in the nutrition.
Make a quarter of your plate whole grains or starchy vegetables such as squash, corn or sweet potatoes, and a quarter lean protein. Serve with two teaspoons of healthy fats, and stick to fruit for dessert. This ensures that you get an appropriate balance of protein, carbs, and fat from nutrient-rich, filling foods.
6. Chose Fibre
Getting enough fibre is key to ageing well and staying slim. Fibre helps keep you full, so you can keep your portions in check, as well as lowering cholesterol and keeping our digestive system healthy. Several studies have found that increasing fibre intake by eating more whole grains can reduce your total and bad, LDL cholesterol levels, lower your risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease, and help control your weight. That’s significant considering that heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States, meaning the best diets for women are packed with fibre. Fibre can be found in whole grains like barley, brown rice, quinoa, oats, bulgur, millet, buckwheat, oat and wheat bran, and more. Fruits and vegetables are also great sources of fibre, as are many plant-based protein sources like beans and lentils.
7. Chose Slow-Burning Carbs
Keeping insulin levels under control is key to preventing weight gain, especially around the belly. From a health standpoint, preventing insulin surges may help prevent type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer.
If you want a slimmer waistline, your best diet plan includes getting rid of any fast-burning carbohydrates such as sugar, white bread, rice noodles and potatoes. Switch carbs like these out for slower-burning alternatives like berries, 100 percent whole-grain bread, whole-grain pasta, or pasta made from beans, lentils, or sweet potatoes. These slow carbs will provide you with slow, sustained energy and help fight sugar cravings. They’ll also help to keep insulin levels low, so you can stay healthy and trim through your 40s and beyond.
Super-foods that all women should add to their diet.
Declining gut health and issues related to improper digestion are tied to the kinds of inflammation-related autoimmune conditions that hit women during middle-age. When it comes to fruit, raspberries are fibre champs. A cup packs 8 grams, according to the USDA. (Here are 5 simple ways to sneak more fibre into your diet.)
Legumes are also loaded with fibre, while all beans are all good sources, the Mayo Clinic says lentils and split peas are tops when it comes to digestion-aiding fibre.
Research from the Journal of the National Cancer Institute links carotenoids like beta-carotene to lower rates of many cancers, and breast cancer in particular. That makes foods loaded with these healthy antioxidants great additions to your diet. Any red, yellow, purple, or orange vegetables—as well as dark leafy greens—are going to be packed with carotenoids. But orange carrots and canned pumpkin are beta-carotene superstars.
Along with beta-carotene, a dietary antioxidant called lycopene also seems to be a potent cancer-fighter, according to a study in the International Journal of Cancer Research and Treatment. Red-hued fruits and vegetables—tomatoes, but also watermelon, papaya, pink guava, and red bell pepper—are all good sources of lycopene. Cooking tomatoes may help your body absorb more of their healthy antioxidants, says research in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
No one is telling you to go nuts with bread. But modest amounts of healthy whole grains—the “sprouted” kinds that contain the grain’s entire bran, germ, and endosperm—are one of the few good dietary sources of tocotrienols, a type of vitamin E that may lower your risk for age-related brain diseases like Alzheimer’s.
Eating the right types of fatty acids can lower your risk for diabetes as you age. In particular, the types of polyunsaturated fatty acids found in walnuts may help protect you from the disease, according to research from the Harvard School of Public Health. Most other nuts and seeds are also good sources of these healthy fatty acids.
Plant-based oils are another good source of healthy polyunsaturated fatty acids—the ones that Harvard study linked with lower rates of diabetes. While soybean and sunflower oil pack a lot of “polys,” olive oil should be your go-to.
No surprise here. But just because avocados are trendy doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be eating them. Healthy fats are one of the best ways to control your appetite, and avocados are a good source of this hunger-stifling macro-nutrient.
Eating a Mediterranean-style diet heavy on, well, most of the items on this list can cut your risk of death due to heart disease by 37%—roughly twice the benefit you’d get taking statins, according to a recent large-scale study from Italian researchers. Beniaminovitz calls the Mediterranean diet “the best and most studied diet we have so far for heart health.” While most types of fish are great for you, fatty fish like salmon may offer the most heart benefits, according to the American Heart Association. The AHA says mackerel, herring, lake trout, and sardines are also healthy choices.
When it comes to healthful nutrients, kale has few equals. Perhaps most helpfully, kale is loaded with alpha-lipoic acid (ALA), an antioxidant that helps your body turn glucose into energy and keeps your blood sugar levels in check. Research has linked ALA to lower rates of diabetes, stroke, glaucoma, and other disease.