Life expectancy for the average American is longer than ever before and is projected to keep growing. With advancements in medicine and a changing mentality, getting older doesn’t mean becoming sedentary.
The National Institute of Health says, “staying physically active and exercising regularly can produce long-term health benefits and even improve health for some older people who already have diseases and disabilities.”
But staying fit and active does become more complicated with age.
Diet can play an important role in keeping athletes healthy and strong over the years. Simin Levinson, Clinical Assistant Professor in the College of Health Solutions at Arizona State University and Consulting Sports Nutritionist for the Phoenix Suns, offered advice on how to eat for success as an older adult and athlete.
“One of the things we experience as older adults is that it is much more difficult to maintain lean muscle mass,” she said.
Levinson recommends that older athletes eat three ounces of protein with each meal to not only reduce the loss of muscle mass, but to try and regain lost muscle. She says that three ounces is roughly equivalent to the size of a Post-it note or the palm of a hand.
Chicken and fish are good sources of protein and are low in fat. Levinson added that dairy is not only a great source of protein, but also supports bone health and builds strong skeletons.
Most athletes know the importance of drinking water. However, older adults start to lose the thirst sensation and may not realize they are becoming dehydrated.
Levinson recommends reaching for a water bottle before snacking. If the hunger does not subside after about 20 minutes, then it is time for a healthy, protein rich snack.
Although antioxidants and vitamin supplements get a lot of attention in anti-aging products, the National Institute on Aging says on their website that “it is a good idea to be skeptical of claims that any supplements can solve your age-related problems.”
“Planning healthy, sound meals makes you get the most out of a workout,” according to Levinson.