Enjoy these helpful tips on making protein a priority in our diet .
As we get older, our bodies process protein less efficiently and need more of it to maintain muscle mass and strength, bone health, and other essential physiological functions. We need to eat more real protein-rich foods as a first line of defense. While eating an adequate amount of protein will not prevent age-associated loss of muscle altogether, not eating enough protein can be an exacerbating factor that causes older adults to lose muscle faster and feel fatigued.
In our article below, we provide helpful tips on making protein a priority in our diet to provide numerous benefits, including:
- Helping you feel fuller longer, curbing hunger and cravings
- Repairing, building, and maintaining muscle
- Keeping your bones strong and supple
- Boosting metabolism and increasing fat-burning
- Helping your body repair and recover
- Supporting immune function, helping to fight infection and inflammation
- Providing the building blocks for hormones and neurotransmitters
- Keeping you fit as you get older
AGING AND AMOUNT OF PROTEIN
So, how much protein should we eat? The recommended daily amount of protein varies, depending on your activity level and goals. If you want to add lean muscle mass, you’ll want to err on the high side. For a general rule of thumb, you need to consume 1 gram-1.2 grams of protein per pound of lean body mass. Make note: that’s not per pound of body weight. Let’s say you’re a female who carries a little extra weight and weighs 200 lbs. You don’t need to eat 200 grams of protein. Most likely, your lean body mass is somewhere between 125-150. If you are only consuming around 50 grams a day, make your first goal 100 grams. Keep in mind that your body may also need more fiber to help with the digestion of added protein. Once you consistently hit that first goal of 100 grams a day, increase that to your optimal protein intake for your body. Click HERE to see how to get 100 grams of protein with or without meat.
PROTEIN INTAKE AFTER 40
It is pretty astounding to us how little protein many of us eat daily. Most of our goals are the same: lose the extra weight that has crept up over the years, feel stronger, and look younger. And yet, when we look at our nutrition, one of our major downfalls is the lack of protein in our diets. Protein is often associated with bulking and bodybuilding. Still, it is essential for every person’s body as it plays a part in nearly every bodily process, from cellular repair to hormone production. Proteins are the building blocks of life, as every cell in your body contains protein, which is needed for our body to repair cells and make new ones. It’s some pretty important stuff, so why we leave it to the bodybuilders is baffling.
As we age, we require more protein to build muscle, but we still need carbs, veggies, and fats. Nutrition from food comes first, but creatine, protein, and collagen supplements can complement that, especially as a post-workout nourishing boost. The first line of defense should always be real food, but if you can’t consume a turkey sandwich and could instead sip a protein shake during the day, it’s better than skipping on your protein intake. A protein shake with high-quality protein (very important!) can be a good way to easily get 25 grams of protein. Our favorites include FlavCity, Be Well by Kelly, and Kachava!
Protein comes from the Greek word “protos,” which means “of first importance.” This is the approach we should take with food because, unlike carbohydrates or fat, your body can’t store protein. This makes it a high priority for your diet. Start your day by getting 30 grams of protein at your first meal. Your body craves protein, so giving it a healthy serving at the start of the day makes sense. Starting your day with optimal protein helps meet your body’s demands while reducing hunger and cravings, stabilizing your blood sugar, revving up your metabolism, and helping you stay energized and focused for hours.
GETTING ENOUGH PROTEIN
As we age, we start to lose muscle mass at a rate of 1%-2% a year. Muscles are made up of protein, and while that loss seems low, you may notice weakness, fatigue, and injury happening more frequently. Your muscles also are what protect your joints, bones, and even your organs, so keeping them healthy should be a priority. If you’re constantly on the prowl for food, it might be a sign that you’re not eating enough protein. Protein is incredibly satiating and will keep you fuller and satisfied longer. If you’ve been lifting weights consistently for several months but aren’t seeing any results in muscle growth, you need more protein. Your body can only build the muscle you want if you give it all the necessary tools to do the job. If your muscles are made of protein and all you feed it is carbs, how is it supposed to build? That’s like putting water in your gas tank and expecting your car to run.
Consuming an adequate amount of protein can help to slow or minimize muscle loss with age. While protein powders can help you meet your protein needs, experts say it’s unnecessary if you get enough protein from your daily meals. You should focus on getting your protein from whole foods like fish, dairy, meat, eggs, and poultry. You can also get it from plant foods like nuts, beans, and lentils. If you can’t get all the protein you need from whole foods, then it’s OK to boost your intake through protein supplements. We love this high-protein peanut butter cup of overnight oats with a delicious chocolate peanut butter shell, which is the ultimate breakfast treat! It packs a nutritional punch with over 20 grams of protein and almost 10g of fiber!