No one likes to admit that getting older requires a change in what we eat. In particular, those over the age of 40 start to need fewer calories. Those who do not adjust to eating smaller portions will soon find that “middle-age spread” creeping up on them. As if that problem is not enough, it also becomes much harder to lose any weight gain.

Why We Need Less Calories
As the body slows down with age it begins to lose muscle mass, especially if you do not exercise regularly. Muscle burns calories, even at rest, so less muscle mass means a lower rate of metabolism and a lower calorific requirement.

Those over the age of 40 tend to have more sedentary jobs and a less active family life, so fewer calories are also needed for this reason.

The Dangers of Being Overweight and Over 40
A study published by the International Journal of Obesity found that only 29% of obese men aged 25 to 39 took regular medications. In those who were overweight and over 40, the figure jumped to 60%.

By comparison, only 39% of men who were within the normal weight range and over 40 needed medications. The implication is clear - those who are overweight have more health problems over the age of 40 than those who are a normal weight.

Food Choices for Over 40s
Those falling into this age group should have a diet that includes 6 oz lean meat and protein per day along with 3-4 oz whole grains, 2 cups of fresh fruit and 3 cups of vegetables to lose weight. Keep portions small, reduce carbohydrates and avoid unsaturated fats completely.

Recommended calorific requirements for men range from 2,200 calories if they are sedentary, to 2,600 calories if they are moderately active. Women need about 200 calories less per day. If you eat 500 calories less than these amounts, you should steadily lose a pound of fat each week.

Including beans and legumes in your diet can be a great way to maintain energy while lowering calorie intake. Kidney beans, black, white or red beans, chick peas and lentils are all included in this healthy food group. Beans provide fiber (another essential as we age), along with antioxidants, protein and a raft of essential vitamins and minerals. They reduce the risk of heart disease, colorectal problems and diabetes, according to a Shanghai Women’s Health Study. They support weight control by helping you to feel full with fewer calories.

Vitamins and Minerals
Over time we lose the ability to absorb vitamins and minerals, particularly women going through menopause. As estrogen levels drop, so do magnesium levels, but IVL’s  Food-Based Women’s multivitamin is specially formulated to meet those needs.

The ability to make vitamin D from sunlight also begins to diminish with age, so consider taking a vitamin D supplement which will also help the body absorb calcium to maintain bone strength. Vitamin E is also recommended to counter the more harmful amounts of free radicals we naturally produce.