Nutrition

How to eat for your age

No matter what age box you tick on a form, daily dietary recommendations differ as you age. We’ve asked Aquahub and Aquantion Personal Trainer and Dietitian, Byron Manning, how to keep kicking health and fitness goals as we age.

We swear we were kickin’ it in high school like five minutes ago. If you’re getting those where did the time go feels and not finding your diet is helping you achieve your goals, it’s probably because your body’s needs change over time.

Here’s what to expect for your age backet.

Youngster

For those riding the youthful wave, you’re probably pretty flex when it comes to your diet.

“You might be a little slack in terms of your diet quality if you’re younger,” says Manning.

He reckons this is pretty clear when it comes to how younger adults fuel their fitness. “You might see younger gym goers putting everything they think they need in a shake and away you go - when really, you still need all your veggies and all your fruits.”

If you love shaking it up, Manning advises keeping in macronutrients (protein and carbs) in mind. “Macronutrients per age group in general will increase, essentially because you are growing so there’s more of you - you burn more so you need more,” says the dietitian He adds that it’s important to remember that the Eat for Health guide shows that calcium guidelines spike as a teenager for both males and females.

Manning recommends rather than relying on shakes, wholefoods is the best way to be healthy and achieve your goals. And if you’re unsure, check out the healthy eating guidelines.

Right in the middle

When you’re smack bang in the middle, dietary requirements can differ between both males and females.

Manning reveals that for dairy, “recommended intake increases from 2.5 to four serves daily when you hit your 50s if you’re a female, whereas for males it remains at 2.5 serves.” Manning advises this increase is likely accounting for osteoporosis and bone health.

There are some consistencies. From 50 years onwards, Manning states that adults of both genders do begin to lose muscle mass while interestingly, “serves for meat for both genders decreases for adults in the same age bracket.”

Retiree yippee!

If you’ve hit the time to put your feet up, that doesn’t mean you should slack off with your healthy eating. Quite the opposite.

“If you look at Recommended Daily Intake, that increases for protein from 64g to 81 once your 70 for males and up to 67g once you’re over 50 for females,” says Manning.

And after dropping back to baseline level for a while after young adult years, calcium for males jumps to 3.5 serves a day (for females it remains consistent with the previous age bracket of 4 serves per day) advises the dietitian.

How to keep your healthy eating on track no matter what your age number

For Manning, the best way to stay healthy throughout your lifetime is to learn basic food preparation, hygiene and cooking from an early age.

“Cooking and food preparation in general is a long-term skill that will never stop benefiting you.”

For Manning, getting the basics of cooking down pat is helpful not only in terms of your health and supporting your goals but also in terms of finances. “You pay for convenience, just look at a supermarket aisle and the price difference between vegetables that are cut up verses those you cut up yourself.”

If you’re keen to learn more, Manning recommends checking out the Eat for Health guide to ensure you’re getting the recommended daily intake of protein, healthy fats, carbs for every age group.

Byron Manning is a personal trainer at Aquanation with a Bachelor of Food and Nutrition Science at and Masters of Dietetics at Deakin University. Learn more.