Slim for Life
What to Eat in Your 20s
Cereal for breakfast. A turkey sandwich for lunch. Chicken for dinner. If this sounds like your daily menu, it's time to shake things up. "Just as your lifestyle changes in each decade, so do your nutritional needs," says Melina B. Jampolis, MD, an internist and author of The Busy Person's Guide to Permanent Weight Loss. "For example, a twentysomething needs to take calcium and vitamin D for strong bones, while a woman in her 40s should eat plenty of lean protein to help maintain muscle mass." Dig into the tips, tools, and meal plans you need to stay slim, strong, and healthy at every age.What to Eat in Your 20s
The challenge: You're pressed for time.
"Women in their 20s are notoriously unhealthy eaters because they frequently consume the majority of their meals on the run," says FITNESS advisory board member Madelyn Fernstrom, PhD, director of the University of Pittsburgh Weight Management Center. Trouble is, the more you grab food on the go, the more fat you take in, research shows. Plus, a diet that's low in vitamins and nutrients now may eventually lead to serious health problems, like heart disease and osteoporosis.Your Diet To-Do List
Bone up on calcium and vitamin D. "This is the last decade in which you can build bone mass without bone loss, a process that begins in your 30s," Fernstrom says. Aim for 1,000 milligrams of calcium (one serving of dairy, such as a cup of yogurt or 1 1/2 ounces of cheese, provides roughly 300 to 400 milligrams) and up to 1,000 IU of vitamin D daily. Since it can be tough to get enough D from food alone, your best bet is a combination of foods, such as salmon and canned tuna in oil, and supplements. Look for a dual supplement made from easy-to-absorb calcium citrate and vitamin D3.
Fish for happiness. Long hours at the office and a fully booked social calendar can result in chronic stress, which "can raise blood pressure, promote weight gain, and cause mood swings," says FITNESS advisory board member Mark A. Moyad, MD, director of preventive and alternative medicine at the University of Michigan Medical Center. "Research shows that eating 500 to 1,000 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids daily can lessen the damage." These good-for-you fats, found in fish, nuts, and seeds, reduce inflammation and improve the health of your brain cells, helping to elevate your mood and protect against depression. In fact, people with the highest levels of omega-3s were significantly happier than those with lower levels, according to a study at the University of Pittsburgh.
Go for the right grains. "Eating too many refined carbohydrates causes drastic swings in blood sugar, which can sap your energy and leave you feeling cranky," Dr. Jampolis says. Instead, choose whole-grain breads, pasta, cereal, and rice. Aim for three to six servings daily for a steady supply of fuel as well as the recommended 25 to 30 grams of fiber you need each day (most Americans get only about half that amount). Bonus: The fiber will help keep you full and satisfied longer, so you'll be less likely to munch on empty calories.Your Recipes for Success
Veggie frittata: Cook 1 omega-3 egg scrambled with 2 egg whites, 1/4 cup thawed frozen broccoli, 1/4 cup sliced mushrooms, and 1 sliced scallion in 1 tablespoon canola oil until set (8 to 10 minutes). Top with 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese.
2 slices whole-grain toast
8 ounces calcium- and vitamin D-fortified OJ
Salmon burger on a whole wheat bun with chive mayo (mix 1 tablespoon canola mayo with 1 teaspoon chives) and cucumber and tomato slices
1 cup grapes
Whole-grain energy bar and a nonfat latte
Spicy pasta: Saute 1 chopped garlic clove, 1 chopped tomato, 1 teaspoon capers, and a pinch red pepper in 1 tablespoon olive oil. Serve over 1 1/2 cups cooked whole wheat pasta with 2 tablespoons feta cheese.
1/2 cup vanilla pudding topped with
2 tablespoons mini chocolate chips
Nutrition facts (for the day): 1,938 calories, 91g protein, 252g carbohydrate, 72g fat (19g saturated), 28g fiber
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