A diet plan for a man or woman 40 years old looks surprisingly similar to a diet plan for a person younger or older. However, like any effective diet, a diet designed specifically for you must take into account your medical status, your caloric requirements and your specific nutrient needs. At this busy stage in your life, using an easy, flexible diet will help you take care of both your family obligations and yourself at the same time.
In general, your caloric needs decrease after you pass through your 20s and 30s. The reasons for the decrease include a more sluggish metabolic response, and the tendency to become less active and more sedentary as you age. A male aged 40 needs 2,400 calories a day if he is sedentary, and up to 2,800 calories if he regularly engages in dedicated exercise. Sedentary females at age 40 require 1,800 calories, and active 40-year-old women can have 2,200 calories. To lose weight at age 40, lower your calorie intake by at least 500 calories a day from your maintenance level, which will help you lose about 1 lb. each week.
Special Age Considerations
At age 40, you may be at a higher risk of diabetes, high blood pressure or elevated cholesterol levels, according to "Your Wellness Roadmap," a publication from Penn State University. A healthy diet requires that you avoid excessive sugar, keep your weight within normal range, consume adequate amounts of fiber and eat no more than 1,500 mg of sodium each day. Whole foods in their unprocessed state give you nutrients without unnecessary additives.
Sample Breakfast and Snack Foods
Forty year old men and women can begin the day with a bowl of high-fiber steel cut oatmeal or 3/4 cup of shredded wheat cereal. Prepare either choice with skim milk to help meet your 800 to 1,000 mg of calcium requirement each day. Avoid eating whole eggs daily for breakfast if your doctor has told you to limit your cholesterol intake. The Mayo Clinic indicates that the cholesterol in one egg has more than 100 percent of the cholesterol intake recommended for adults with high cholesterol. Eat egg whites or zero cholesterol egg substitutes if you enjoy cooked eggs for breakfast. Healthy, low-sodium snacks include unsalted almonds or walnuts, raw fruits or cut-up vegetables with homemade hummus, low-sodium cheese sticks or yogurt.
Lunch and Dinner
Fiber-rich foods may help you lose weight, and keep your cholesterol levels under control, according to the Harvard Medical School. Quick, on-the-go lunches for a busy mom, dad or executive include brown rice and vegetable wraps, chicken and mustard sandwiches on reduced-calorie 100 percent whole-wheat bread or salads topped with balsamic vinegar. Healthy, low-calorie dinners that you can eat while dining out or cooking at home include small servings of pasta with tomato-based sauces, grilled seafood and steamed vegetables, baked chicken and sweet potatoes or spinach and couscous salads. Take a walk after lunch or dinner to help increase your metabolic rate and burn calories. If you are a female over 40, walking can help you keep your bone density from falling as you age.
- American Heart Association; Diet and Lifestyle Recommendations; May 2010
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010
- Penn State; Your Wellness Roadmap: Lesson 1; J. Lynne Brown, et al.; 2006
- Institute of Medicine; Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs): Estimated Average Requirements
- University of Maryland Medical Center; Exercise -- Exercise's Effects on Bones and Muscles; Harvey Simon, et al.; May 2009