Your athletic body has special needs after your half century. Here’s how to feed it right to keep riding strong, no matter your age.
Just as your nutritional needs change as you grow from kid to adult, they continue to evolve as you mature and grow older. This is especially noticeable after age 50, when you may need higher levels of certain essential nutrients to maintain good health and optimal muscle function, at the same time that your gut may not be absorbing all those nutrients as efficiently as it used to.
Getting all the nutrition you need is even more important when you’re an active cyclist who has no interest in hanging up their wheels anytime soon. To that end, the Institute of Food Technologists last year published a paper summarising key essential nutritional ingredients that active adults need after 50.
“Riding places a lot of demands on your body, and as you get older and your body starts breaking down here and there, it’s especially important to stay on top of the nutrition you need to support it and keep it strong and healthy,” says past IFT president, Mary Ellen Camire, now a professor of food science and human nutrition at the University of Maine. “These foods and nutrients, as part of a balanced healthy diet, can help.”
A healthy gut is the gateway to improved overall well being and good performance. It not only absorbs the nutrients you need, but also support and boost immunity. The gatekeepers are an army of trillions of bacteria called probiotics that live in your gut. There are many different kinds of probiotics that play many different roles. The key is keeping them balanced, because when their equilibrium is thrown off, your digestion doesn’t work as well and you’re more prone to weight gain and illness. Stress, age, and hard exercise (or a perfect storm of all three) can knock them out of whack.
Get what you need: Fermented foods are an excellent source of healthy active probiotics. Eat yogurts that bear a Live & Active Culture (LAC) seal contain at least 100 million bacterial cultures per gram at the time of manufacture. Other good sources include kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, and aged cheese like cheddar.
“When I’m travelling, I’ll take a probiotic supplement,” says Camire, “because you don’t always know what kind of food variety you’re going to find.” We like Sound Probiotics, a sponsor of a number of pro cyclists, including Team Novo Nordisk and other endurance athletes.