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What to Eat in Your 40s

The challenge: You're fighting belly flab.

Toning this trouble zone is harder now. "When you're younger and producing more estrogen, fat travels to your hips and thighs," explains Pamela Peeke, MD, a FITNESS advisory board member and author of Body for Life for Women. "Once you reach your 40s, you produce less estrogen and fat goes straight to your belly instead."

Your Diet To-Do List

Ignite your metabolism. "The more muscle you have, the more calories you'll burn on a daily basis," Dr. Peeke says. The key is protein: It fuels muscle growth and helps keep you full between meals, so you'll eat less. Aim for 60 to 80 grams a day from a mix of lean meats, beans, peanut butter, and dairy. People who ate three servings of dairy a day for six months lost two more pounds of belly fat than those who consumed a low-dairy diet, according to a study. Researchers say calcium may increase the activity of enzymes that break down fat cells in your body.

Blast fat with... fat. As your estrogen levels decline, your risk of cardiovascular disease increases. A diet low in saturated fat -- no more than 14 grams for a woman eating 1,800 calories daily -- and high in protective monounsaturated fat, like that found in avocados, walnuts, and olive oil, can help keep you healthy.

Water down your appetite. In your 40s and beyond, you burn about 100 fewer calories a day. To help keep the weight off, eat plenty of low energy-dense foods, like salads, vegetables, broth-based soups, and nonfat yogurt. "These foods are filling because they have a high water content, which means you can eat larger portion sizes but still keep calories in check," Sandon explains. Women on a low-fat diet containing H20-rich foods lost about one-quarter more weight and felt much less hungry than those who followed a traditional low-fat diet, according to a study from Pennsylvania State University.

Your Recipes for Success

Breakfast
Whole wheat English muffin with 1 tablespoon soy nut butter
1 pear
8 ounces 1% milk

Lunch
Chicken pita: Whole wheat pita stuffed with 3 ounces grilled chicken, shredded romaine lettuce, 5 chopped black olives, 1 slice each red onion and tomato, and curried yogurt (1/2 small container nonfat Greek yogurt with 1/4 teaspoon curry powder)

Snack
1/4 cup walnuts and 8 ounces calcium-fortified tomato juice

Dinner
Turkey chili: Saute 3 ounces lean ground turkey breast and 1/4 cup chopped onion in 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add 1/2 cup diced tomatoes and 1/2 cup thawed frozen corn. Heat until warm. Season with chili powder and cumin to taste.
1 whole-grain tortilla
1/2 cup low-fat vanilla frozen yogurt topped with 1/2 cup fresh or frozen (and thawed) raspberries

Nutrition facts (for the day): 1,694 calories, 100g protein, 211g carbohydrate, 56g fat (10g saturated), 30g fiber

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1/31/2012 02:40:22 AM Report Abuse
xnkshldng1 wrote:

Interesting article on the 50 yr olds. I appreciate the suggestion of eatting more calories earlier in the day. It makes sense. The vitamins and extra calcium really help

3/28/2011 09:34:19 PM Report Abuse
jillphilen wrote:

Good ideas...seems doable. I'd like to see other ideas for other day's meals.

3/17/2011 11:18:12 AM Report Abuse

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