Protein is the building block of muscle. As you get older you will probably experience some loss of muscle mass and strength. This has been attributed to a reduced rate of protein synthesis that accompanies the normal aging process. But, it can be a big concern for many people. If you lose too much muscle then that could impair your ability to complete functional activities of work, sport, or play.
So should you eat more protein in order to combat the effects of aging?
This is a hotly debated topic with many different opinions because the research is not exactly clear. Population studies seem to indicate that an increase in dietary protein isn’t necessary if you already exercise. But a number of protein synthesis studies show otherwise.
A recent paper from Exercise and Sports Sciences Reviews (July 2013) made these conclusions:
- Increasing physical activity increases muscle protein synthesis rates.
- The amount, source, and time of day that dietary protein is consumed also effects muscle protein synthesis rates.
- Combining physical activity and exercise with adequate protein intake is the best strategy for combatting the negative effects of aging on muscle mass and strength.
Based on this information, other papers I’ve read and experts I’ve consulted here are some of my tips for dietary protein for those over the age of 50:
- Be physically active daily and exercise regularly (including weight lifting).
- Eat adequate amounts of protein (0.8g/kg body weight daily) from a variety of sources (lean meats, low-fat dairy, legumes, or nuts). Even vegetarians can get plenty of protein, but they have to be a little more diligent about it. One easy way to do this is to eat a palm size of protein at each major meal.
- Take a protein shake of 20-30 g whey protein (not soy protein) immediately before or after working out.
- Maintain a healthy gut so you can digest and absorb nutrients properly.
Although I don’t check my protein intake every single day (who wants to do that?), I do keep tabs on it to make sure I am meeting my goals. I shoot for over 1.0g/kg body weight just to make sure I am getting enough. I encourage you to do the same.
This doesn’t have to take up a lot of time and energy once you get into the routine of eating enough lean protein on a daily basis. Remember, as long as you’re getting about a palm per meal you should be fine.
And if you are over 50 and aren’t getting regular exercise…..especially functional strength training isn’t it time you come in and try out Your Personal Best Training Studio?