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How to eat for your age

Posted by: Patrick Catanzariti on April 19, 2016

How to eat for your age

There is so much information on nutrition available in this day and age, but one factor that is often overlooked is a person’s age. There are metabolic differences between different age groups as well as the fact that you will have different nutritional needs depending on which age group you fall under. If your goal is to decrease the rate at which you lose muscle as you get older, as well as maintain a healthy body fat level, then pay attention to how the body’s needs change over time.

Your diet consists of three main macronutrients: protein, carbohydrates and fats. Below, I will outline how the needs of these change depending on your age and some reasons why. When designing a diet plan for yourself or somebody else, consider which age bracket they come under and plan the diet accordingly.

Carbohydrates

We all know carbohydrates increase insulin secretion in the body. Younger people are more sensitive to the positive effects of insulin in the body and as we age insulin sensitivity decreases. The bodies needs for carbohydrates therefore over time should decrease to match this. Disposal of carbohydrates (insulin sensitivity) in the body is progressively impaired as the body ages with some of the reasons for this being decreased insulin, decreased muscle mass and sedentary activity levels.

General recommendations by age

20-40 = 3.7-6g of carbs per kg of bodyweight

40-60 = 2.6-4.8g of carbs per kg of bodyweight

over 60 = 1.5-3.7g of carbs per kg of bodyweight

Protein

According to research, younger individuals are more sensitive to the effects of protein in the body and as we get older we become less sensitive to protein over time. This basically means that our needs for protein in our diets will increase over time. Larger doses of protein are required to maximise the anabolic response in people as they age. By having a diet with an increased amount of protein and amino acids, it will help prevent the gradual muscle loss that comes with aging. If you are 50 or older then this is something that you do need to worry about. Gradual muscle loss can lead to weakness, higher chances of injury and decreased mobility.

General recommendations by age

20-40 = 1.5-2.5g of protein per kg of bodyweight

40-60 = 2.2-3g of protein per kg of bodyweight

over 60 = 2.8-3.3g of protein per kg of bodyweight

Fats

The macronutrient of fat is again another that will change as the body ages however do not change as much as the above two do. It is generally recommended that due to the decreased need of carbohydrates, fats should be increased slightly to make up the missing calories from reducing carbohydrates. It goes without saying that you should focus on healthy fats to make up the majority of your dietary fats. For younger individuals, having a lower fat and higher carbohydrate diet may work well in the body due to insulin sensitivity being higher, but for the aging person there should definitely be more a of focus on healthy fats due to the essential nutrients that they provide.

General recommendations by age

20-40 = 0.7-1.1g of fat per kg of bodyweight

40-60 = 1-1.3g of fat per kg of bodyweight

over 60 = 1.2-1.5g of fat per kg of bodyweight

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