Protein is something we need as a vital macronutrient throughout life. Proteins are the building blocks of life and every cell in the human body contains protein. The basic structure of protein is a chain of amino acids.
As we age, in particular from 40 onwards, muscle mass is on the decline at 1% to 3% per year and 1% to 3% strength loss per year. This also comes down to the quality of muscle we have to begin with, so getting your health and fitness sorted with strength and adequate protein is the key to aiding this process.
WHY PROTEIN FOR LIFE
Here are a few important notes to do with ageing before we get to the recommended amount of protein.
It is imperative you know this no matter what age you are at, so you can get into a healthy routine of protein consumption and strength work for life helping with your gait, walking, fall prevention, muscle mass, strength and so forth :
- As you age, sarcopenia increases. This means you are not able to easily grow lean muscle, it slows down, you lose muscle mass
- Therefore, you need to consume more protein at this time even though it is generally found that protein consumption as you age actually declines
- When you are YOUNGER + EXERCISING : Your exercise itself will do all the work in terms of muscle mass – you can get away with eating whatever. When you are getting OLDER – you cannot rely on only the exercise anymore, and so the protein intake itself becomes super important.
- People who do lift weights in their 80s or 90s still have adaptability, but the protein synthesis rate slows. One study showed a rate of 15% less for older adults
- Why is this important with ageing?
- If you have a fall, need to go to hospital and have bed rest, your recovery and building back is already lowered with age against you, whereas when you are younger and have bed rest for whatever reason, you can bounce back better.
UPDATED RESEARCH OF HOW MUCH PROTEIN YOU NEED
If you look at most resources and apps on the internet, you will find that the current recommended rate of protein intake is 0.8 grams per kilo of bodyweight, possibly more for ‘active’ people.
Dr Stuart Phillips of MacMaster University, Canada, has done a tonne of research on protein and how the body uses it and needs it.
He says that we are not up to date with looking closely at the recommended doses and that we need significantly more.
As a comparison for how health recommendations have changed, consider Vitamin C. Years back the recommended daily amount of vitamin C was much lower than what it is now due to updated research and developments with its health benefits.
Same goes for protein.
Protein is not a fuel source, but rather, the building blocks for your metabolism and muscle. Muscle plays an integral role in helping us move, and is a storage site for glucose and blood sugar.
The process of muscle protein synthesis and breakdown work in opposites. For example, we wake and eat protein for breakfast, an increase in muscle protein synthesis occurs and a small decrease in muscle protein breakdown. For a moment, we are getting a small protein gain.
All meals therefore need to contain an adequate amount of protein.
Then you add exercise to the mix – every time after we eat plus exercising, we get a greater rise of the amount of muscle we are making.
If you have done exercise, the protein you consume is active for about 24 hours post exercise.
However, we lose so much protein (and quickly) from urine, faeces and sweat, that the consumption of it needs to be frequent and adequate as it is not stored per say (like glycogen in our muscles are stored, or like how fat is stored.)
Therefore the recommended minimum amount is now 1.2 grams per kilo of bodyweight, as opposed to 0.8 grams per kilo of bodyweight. That’s for a non-active person.
Active people need 1.6 grams per kilo of bodyweight or more, depending on your level, duration and intensity of activity.
This is significant enough to re-evaluate (in my opinion) the macros you consume (proteins, carbohydrates and fats) per day, your total calories per day and importantly, your health and fitness goals for the short term and long term.
Why? So you can ensure you reach the right balance of not merely increasing protein and overeating for what you are burning, and re-adjusting your other macros for a more suitable overall intake specific to your goals.
(And this is quite specific to each person, your health history, your hormonal balance, your age, your level of burnout if any, and the type of exercise you do, alot to consider here! Book a call here with me if you would like 1:1 personal fitness & nutrition guidance to fast-track your results.)
CALCULATIONS OF BODYWEIGHT – QUICK REFERENCE
Here are examples of protein amount you need based on weight and the 1.2 – 1.6 grams per kilo of bodyweight
50 KG /110 POUND PERSON = 60-80 grams per day
60 KG /132 POUND PERSON = 72-96 grams per day
65 KG / 143 POUND PERSON = 78-104 grams per day
70 KG / 154 POUND PERSON = 84-112 grams per day
75 KG / 165 POUND PERSON = 90-120 grams per day
80 KG / 176 POUND PERSON = 96-128 grams per day
90 KG / 198 POUND PERSON = 108-144 grams per day
*TIMING OF PROTEIN – It does not really matter as to the timing of eating protein to be generally healthy – this only matters when you are an elite athlete performing at a very high level, so do not get caught up on that. Rather, focus on the frequency and adequate daily amounts. Side note – do not skip meals even if on a weight loss goal!
*TIMING after exercise is also not that relevant- which may be different to what you have heard over the years. It’s about HOW MUCH PROTEIN you get over the course of the day that’s important.
*PROTEIN IS BAD FOR YOUR LIVER – This is untrue and has no evidence. The basis of this myth perhaps is the overuse of protein shakes where they may cause bloating or the under-consumption of fibre in general which causes stomach issues.
COMMON FOODS & THEIR PROTEIN AMOUNT
2 x boiled eggs = 12 grams
A skinless, cooked chicken breast = 172 grams has 54 grams
200 grams greek yoghurt = 20 grams
1 cup cooked spinach (boiled / drained ) = 5.35 grams
1 large baked sweet potato = 3.6 grams
(black walnuts and almonds are best for lowest saturated fat and high protein)
Walnuts ¼ cup = 4.5 grams
Almonds ¼ cup = 6 grams
1x apple = 0.3 grams
HOW TO EASILY BOOST YOUR PROTEIN INTAKE THROUGH BALANCED MEALS
Based on the above calculations of what a person needs to consume to hit their daily target, this is in most cases easy to do through food.
It comes down to the right balance of your three main macros as highlighted above. And choosing good quality foods within each meal to boost it up without overloading on calories.
I have a 14 Day Healthy Protein Kick Recipe & Meal Plan which contains 40+ yummy, nutritious and filling recipes that help you boost your protein while balancing out the rest of your macros easily. Nutrition information is also included.
This is a great way to work on boosting your protein intake naturally. Learn how to eat without feeling like you are missing out!
You can purchase my guide right here for only $27 AUD ($19 USD!)
Here are some of the recipes…
Chicken Orange Stir Fry
Zesty Turkey Rissoles
Miso Salmon With Zoodles
Summer Berry Protein Bowl
Hope this article has helped shed some light on the protein discussion. Please share this with a friend and reach out if you need any help.
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