We've all heard the talk of 'middle-aged spread', or perhaps even experienced it first hand, but getting older doesn't have to mean cutting back on all types of food.
In fact, there is one food group that we should actually be eating more of as we age: protein. Many people would assume that the main time we require protein in life is during the teenage years as our bodies grow, but in fact research has shown that protein requirements increase with age. Imogen Watson, Medical Nutrition Manager for Abbott, explains: 'From the age of around 40, we start to lose muscle, which is one of the primary reasons for weight gain, since muscle burns a lot of calories.
'The good news is that eating high-quality protein can overcome our body's resistance to building new muscle, as well as improving our bone health'. So how much protein should we be eating? Well, from 40 to 65, around 0.75g of protein per kilo of bodyweight is recommended per day – in other words, the heavier you are, the more you need. Meat, eggs, pulses, soya products and nuts are all excellent sources of protein.
And at the age of 65, that requirement rises again, to 1.2g of protein per kilo of bodyweight. Unfortunately for many people, this is an age at which they start to lose their appetite, so Imogen recommends trying the 'little and often' approach of eating protein with every meal, plus snacks in between. Another excellent way to improve your muscle mass as you grow older is to do resistance training of some kind, whether that's lifting weights at the gym, or using a couple of tins of beans at home to perform exercises.
And remember, even if you haven't hit your 40s yet, scientists have suggested that by staying active and eating protein from an early age, we can actually delay the onset of muscle loss – so get lifting those weights everyone!