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What To Eat To Stay Fit After 50?

Turning 50 is a big deal. It is often a very exciting milestone for most people. This half-century mark comes after you have gone through a lot of hardships, trials and errors, and many lessons in your life. However, reaching 50 is also a time when you need to acknowledge some new rules for staying fit and healthy. Your 50s are a time when your bodies start to change, as do your nutritional requirements. When you maintain a healthy and well-balanced pattern of eating that focuses on getting all the necessary nutrients, it is possible to continue towards healthy aging so that you can keep on living an active lifestyle.

What To Eat To Stay Fit After 50?

What To Eat To Stay Fit After 50?

Here’s a complete guide on what to eat to stay fit after 50.

Nutrients To Focus On After 50

Once you cross 50 years of age, it is important to ensure that you get plenty of the key nutrients in your diet on a daily basis to stay fit and healthy. Here are the nutrients and foods you need to focus on to keep fit after 50.

  1. Protein

    The most important nutrient that you must get enough of, that too on a daily basis, is protein. You need to eat a sufficient amount of protein to build and preserve lean muscle mass, which is what is required for having an active lifestyle, proper immune health, as well as a strong metabolism. Protein is one nutrient you simply cannot ignore.(1, 2)

    Some foods that are rich in protein include:

    It should be that even though the current Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for protein is around 0.36 grams per pound of body weight (0.8 grams per kilogram), research actually suggests that anyone over the age of 50 should ideally be consuming more protein. Adults over the age of 50 may even need nearly 0.5 to 0.9 grams per pound (1.2-2.0 grams per kilogram) of protein to continue to preserve muscle mass and promote an active lifestyle.(3, 4, 5, 6)

    It is possible for most people to get an adequate amount of protein from food alone. However, if you find yourself struggling to meet this daily requirement, you can try using a protein powder or supplement.

    There is also a difference in the protein quality. Usually, animal protein provides all the essential amino acids that you need, and that too in the correct ratio. So if you are consuming animal products like fish, egg, meat, or dairy products every day, it is more than likely that you are getting a sufficient amount of protein.(7, 8)

    However, for those people who are over the age of 50 and do not eat animal foods, getting all the essential amino acids and protein, the body needs at that age can be challenging. You can consider speaking to a dietitian to find out how you can increase your protein intake through plant-based foods.

  2. Calcium

    Calcium is one of the most important minerals required for bone health, muscle and heart contraction, as well as nerve function. Having proper calcium intake is necessary to prevent bone-related disorders such as osteoporosis and osteopenia.(9, 10)

    Foods that are rich in calcium include:

    It is important to note that post-menopausal people are at a greater risk of developing osteoporosis since their bodies are able to absorb calcium as efficiently as they can before the age of 50. This is why they need to consume an average of 1200 milligrams of calcium per day, while others need to have about 1000 mg per day.(11)

    While you can find calcium in many multivitamins, but it is still best to get it through food. If your doctor recommends you to take a calcium supplement, you should split the dosage to increase absorption of the nutrient. For example, you can take two 500 mg calcium supplements twice a day instead of taking just 1000 mg supplements to increase absorption.

  3. Fiber

    Fiber is necessary for having healthy bowel movements and digestion. Fiber also supports good heart health, slows down sugar absorption to regulate blood sugar levels, and helps maintain a healthy weight.(12, 13) Some foods that contain high levels of fiber include:

    • Fruit
    • Vegetables
    • Beans and lentils
    • Nuts and seeds
    • Whole grains like brown rice, barley, popcorn, and oats

    The RDA for fiber for women is 25 grams per day, and for men, it is 38 grams per day. It is possible for most people to consume enough fiber from food alone. However, if needed, your doctor may recommend a fiber supplement for you. Metamucil is one of the most popular fiber supplements.(14)

  4. Vitamin D

    In people over 50, vitamin D is an essential nutrient to ensure good bone and immune health. Being deficient in vitamin D is known to increase the risk of poor heart health, mental decline, frailty, osteoporosis, type 2 diabetes, depression, certain types of cancer, and many other health conditions.(15, 16)

    Vitamin D is often called the sunshine vitamin because our bodies are capable of producing this vitamin from sun exposure. However, too much exposure to the sun can also be dangerous, so it is perhaps better to get the RDA of vitamin D from supplements or foods like mushrooms, egg yolks, fatty fish, and dairy products.

    However, since there are very few food sources of vitamin D, doctors usually recommend that you take a vitamin D supplement of at least 600 IU or higher after crossing the age of 50. Based on your individual needs or geographical location, your doctor may recommend that you take higher doses of vitamin D.(17)

  5. Antioxidants

    Antioxidants are important to help neutralize free radical compounds in the body that cause oxidative stress, which is one of the main reasons behind chronic disease and aging. Antioxidants include vitamins such as A, E, and C, along with minerals like copper, selenium, and zinc.(18, 19, 20)

    Some of the best food sources for getting your fill of antioxidants include:(21, 22)

    • Nuts and seeds
    • Whole grains
    • Dark chocolate
    • Colorful fruits and vegetables
    • Coffee and tea

    While there is not really a general recommended intake for antioxidants, and there is not much evidence to support that it will help if you take an antioxidant supplement, it is still good to try to have some antioxidant-rich foods with each meal.

Dietary Changes to Make After 50 

Once you cross the age of 50, to help your body remain healthy and age well, apart from getting the required nutrients, you should also make certain small changes to your diet and eating pattern. These include:

  • Consume Lots Of Whole Foods: You should ideally consume a diet that is made up mostly of whole foods and minimally processed foods. Increase your intake of whole grains like brown rice, whole wheat bread, and oats, proteins like lean meats and poultry and tofu, healthy fats like nuts, seeds, avocados, and lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. At the same time, you should restrict your intake of ultra-processed foods that are high in salt, saturated fats, and calories and low in fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
  • Include Some Vegetables With Each Meal: Ideally, half of your plate should be filled with vegetables. This is the best way of adding healthy and critical nutrients to each meal. Vegetables are rich in many essential nutrients like potassium, fiber, vitamins and minerals, and even antioxidants. They are also very filling and low in calories, making you feel full for a longer time and helping in weight management.
  • Drink Lots And Lots Of Water: We are a society that is habituated to drinking sugary beverages. Sugary beverages are linked with an increased risk of obesity, weight gain, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.(23, 24, 25) Choosing water as your main beverage will help you reduce the consumption of simple sugars and empty calories. Water also keeps you hydrated, and it is necessary for the well-being of your body. Some other beverages you can include are coffee, tea, plant-based milk, flavored water, and dairy milk.
  • Consume Good Amounts Of Micronutrients: Micronutrients are the really tiny nutrients that your body needs. These are the nutrients we need in small quantities, such as vitamin D, magnesium, zinc, potassium, etc. These are very important for the different processes of our body. Zinc is needed for the immune system and testosterone production. Magnesium is needed for carrying out 300 to 400 enzymatic reactions in the body. Vitamin D is also required for a wide variety of functions in the body. This is why you should try to include them in your food as well.
  • Cut Out Table Salt For A Healthy Heart: Many people suffer from high blood pressure by the time they reach 50 years of age. Cutting out table salt is one step towards a heart-healthy diet. Instead of table salt, you can try out seasonings like onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, pepper, fresh herbs, etc. Low-sodium and sodium-free alternatives to salt are also available that can help you.


As you cross 50, you need to start paying close attention to your diet and nutrition. You need to pick foods that help promote good health and also slow down the various age-related changes that affect your body after reaching half a century, such as bone and muscle loss and sluggish metabolism. Eating a diet rich in protein, fiber, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals, and antioxidants can help while limiting the intake of processed foods. Taking a multivitamin or other supplements can also help, but only take them on the advice of your doctor. Making certain small and healthy changes to your diet can help you have many more thriving and healthy years.


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Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Sheetal DeCaria, M.D. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:September 23, 2022

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