We all start losing muscle mass at a rate of 1 percent per year after age 30. That's why it's important to maintain a healthy diet as we get older — one that should not look the same as it did when you were under 30, says Susan Williams, M.D., a physician in Cleveland Clinic’s Endocrinology and Metabolism Institute.
Skipping breakfast, eating fast food, and being inactive might not greatly hurt your health in your 20s and early 30s, but such habits will take their toll over time. "The 30s are the time when you can really get ahead of the game in terms of embracing good nutritional habits," Dr. Williams says, in a report on the Cleveland Clinic Website.
Whether you’re 30 or 50, Dr. Williams offered a couple of tips to get started:
Maintain a normal weight, because a rollercoaster of weight gain and loss can change your body composition and leave you with more fat mass and less lean muscle mass.
Eat three balanced meals a day, with limited snacks in between. The word “balanced” is especially important because eating a wide variety of foods will help you prevent nutritional deficiencies.
Eat lean proteins, such as chicken, white fish, oily fish like salmon, red meat (less frequently than other protein), eggs and tuna fish. And be sure to choose lots of whole grains, vegetables, fruit, and healthy dairy products.
"Muscles in your body are a use-or-lose proposition," Dr. Williams says. "You need to use them to keep them strong."