The foods that keep you slim as you age
- Study: Nuts, chicken, seafood and yogurt help people lose weight with age
- Red meat, processed meats and carbohydrates are linked with weight gain
- Cheese, whole milk and low fat milk had no effect on weight gain
- The combination of foods eaten together also has an effect on the body
We all know that with age comes not only grey hair, but the curse of middle-aged spread.
Now, however, a study has revealed the best foods to eat to avoid a bulging waistline.
Men and women who ate lots of yogurt, seafood, skinless chicken and nuts were more likely to lose weight over the years, US researchers discovered.
But those who ate red meat, processed meats and carbohydrates such as white breads, potatoes, and sweets were more likely to pile on the pounds.
Eating chicken, seafood, nuts and yogurt can halt the middle aged spread, while red meat, carbohydrates and sugar will cause people to pile on the pounds as they age, a study found
Interestingly, eating more dairy products, including full-fat cheese, whole milk and low fat milk did not seem to make a difference in terms of weight gain, the study found.
And the combination of foods eaten in a meal also mattered a great deal.
Eating red meat with carbohydrates increased the likelihood the person would gain weight, while eating the meat with vegetables could mitigate some of the weight gain, researchers said.
People gain weight as they age because their metabolism slows down, as changes in their body means muscle is naturally turned to fat.
As many middle-aged people are less active than when they are younger, but eat the same food, nutritionists advise people aged 45 and above to eat around 200 fewer calories a day to prevent the number on the weighing scales going up as the years pass.
Dr Dariush Mozaffarian, dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, at Tufts University in at Boston, was senior author of the study.
He said: said: ‘Our study adds to growing new research that counting calories is not the most effective strategy for long-term weight management and prevention.’
‘Some foods help prevent weight gain, others make it worse.
‘Most interestingly, the combination of foods seems to make a big difference.
‘Our findings suggest we should emphasise specific protein-rich foods like fish, nuts, and yogurt to prevent weight gain.
‘But we should also focus on avoiding refined grains, starches, and sugars in order to maximize the benefits of these healthful protein-rich foods, create new benefits for other foods like eggs and cheese, and reduce the weight gain associated with meats.’
As part of the study, researchers analysed data from three long-term papers in which 120,000 US health professionals were followed for more than 16 years.
They filled out validated self-reported questionnaires on their food.
The researchers found that diets with a high glycemic load, meaning they cause a big rise in blood sugar, were associated with gaining weight.
These foods included refined grains, starches and sugars.
Red meat and processed meat was linked to weight gain, researchers discovered. The effects could be mitigated if they were eaten with vegetables
They also found increasing the intake of red meat and processed meat were most strongly associated with weight gain.
Yogurt, seafood, skinless chicken and nuts were most strongly associated with weight loss – and the more people ate, the less weight they gained.
Eating more dairy products, such as full-fat cheese, whole milk or low fat milk, was not related to weight gain or loss.
“The fat content of dairy products did not seem to be important for weight gain”-Researcher Dr Jessica Smith
Dr Jessica Smith, of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, who was involved in the research, said: ‘There is mounting scientific evidence that diets – including less low-quality carbohydrates, such as white breads, potatoes, and sweets, and higher in protein-rich foods may be more efficient for weight loss.
‘We wanted to know how that might apply to preventing weight gain in the first place.’
She added: ‘The fat content of dairy products did not seem to be important for weight gain.
‘In fact, when people consumed more low-fat dairy products, they actually increased their consumption of carbs, which may promote weight gain.
‘This suggests that people compensate, over years, for the lower calories in low-fat dairy by increasing their carb intake.’
The study found the combination of foods eaten together also mattered a great deal when it came to fighting the middle-aged spread.