Your diet tends to evolve along with the number of candles on your birthday cake. For example, in your hard-training teens and early 20s, you could probably eat at Taco Bell several times a week and still remain fairly lean. That changes during your 30s and 40s. After turning 50, many people start dropping their calories in response to an ever-slower metabolism.
While reducing calories may help you maintain your body weight, is lowering your energy intake the best option for overall health?
Not necessarily, especially if your calorie cutting involves consuming less protein. Protein supports muscle health and growth, which helps your body stay functional at all ages. It’s also what helps support proper tissue health, including hair, teeth, and fingernails. Protein subunits called amino acids are integral components of signaling molecules and represent half of all hormones.
Research suggests that increasing protein intake as you age can support weight management and body-fat reduction. This is due to the enhanced metabolic rate and better satiety that occurs with consuming enough protein.
Father Time Does Not Like Muscle, Unfortunately
In your 30s, your muscle mass begins to naturally decline; after 50, this decline only accelerates. However, adequate consumption of protein, paired with resistance training, dramatically decelerates age-related loss in muscle mass and increases strength in individuals of all ages.
How do you know if you’re getting enough protein?
At DBM Strength Training, we recommend .8 grams per lb of body weight. (a 130lb female would consume 104 grams of protein daily, a 180 lb male would aim for 144 grams daily).
What Are The Recommendations For Older Active Adults?
Keep in mind, these recommendations do not reflect changing macronutrient needs associated with age, nor do they consider the additional protein needs for those individuals who exercise regularly. General sports nutrition recommendations for athletes are approximately 1-2 grams per kilogram of body weight per day or 82-164 grams of protein per day for a 180-pound adult. Knowing all this, it seems safe to say that older adults could benefit from higher protein intake, especially if they are physically active, including regular exercise.
Do Aging Women Have Different Protein Needs From Aging Men?
The overall need for more protein in later years is even more pronounced in women. Research including more than 300 elderly participants (average age of 72) indicates that women who consume between 0.8-1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day tend to have fewer health problems than those consuming less than 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight per day.
Protein intake is a modifiable risk factor for sarcopenia—loss of muscle mass—in aging individuals. Protein also contributes to enhanced bone density, greater strength, and improved overall health. Since osteoporosis a bigger concern for aging women versus men, enhanced bone density and strength would be additionally beneficial on top of maintaining muscle mass and overall health.
Are There Risks Associated With A High-Protein Diet, Particularly For Older Adults?
The primary objection to increased protein in the diet is the concern that the elevated amino acid intake will stress or damage the kidneys. It’s true that individuals with impaired kidney health should avoid excess protein consumption. However, research conducted on healthy individuals with normal kidney function of varying age, sex, and training status does not seem to support the fear that high protein intake will lead to kidney damage. In addition, investigations aimed at evaluating fitness, performance, and muscle function in over-50 populations consistently supports an increased intake of protein.
What Exactly Does This Mean For You?
It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly how much protein any specific individual needs in a day based solely on ranges, which is why aiming for a precise goal (number of grams) of protein each day can be a more productive way to support your body composition goals, especially after age 50.
Are Protein Shakes Safe For Older Adults?
Yes. In fact, protein supplementation can provide tremendous benefit to aging individuals who struggle to meet target protein intake levels with whole foods alone. As we age, reduced appetites can also make it difficult to meet protein goals through diet alone—another reason why it may be necessary to supplement using protein powders and protein shakes.
Which Protein Powder Is Best For Older Adults?
A range of protein supplements can help individuals meet their specific protein needs. Finding a protein supplement that fits your lifestyle and diet can take some effort. But if the alternative to protein supplementation is consistently failing to meet daily protein targets, adding a supplement is highly advised.
When searching for supplements, seek reputable brands with ingredient lists that are short and understandable. You should be able to recognize and understand what a protein powder is made of. We are happy to make suggestions and assist you with planning a daily diet through the gym.
Read the complete article at Bodybuilding.com