Protein is quite controversial in the health world. Some people say the less of this you eat the better for health. But avoiding protein and meat is not the answer either, especially for older adults. A new study from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock proves that nutritional balance is key to good health and body mass.
Effect of Too Little Protein to Your Body
Limiting your protein intake and avoiding foods like red meat and eggs could accelerate a process of muscle wasting that’s commonly seen in older adults.
This condition is called sacropenia, defined as the loss of muscle tissue related to the natural aging process. Between the ages of 20 and 80, the average adult loses 20 to 30 percent of their total muscle mass.
Sacropenia is a concern because it can reduce the capacity to do the most basic tasks of daily life. In much older adults in can increase the susceptibility towards falling and risk of fractures.
Daily Intake Recommendation
The current dietary recommendation for protein is .8 grams of protein for every kilogram of weight. For American readers, 1 kilogram equals 2.2 pounds. That means if you weigh 77 kilograms or 169 pounds, you should be getting 62 grams per day. This requirement can be met by eating a breakfast of yogurt, a peanut butter or turkey sandwich for lunch, a handful of nuts as a snack and a piece of salmon for dinner.
However, if you’re an older adult, the recommendation rises to 1.2 grams/kg. That means a 77-kilogram adult actually needs about 92 grams. Aiming for 30 grams per meal would hit that target.
However, many older adults experience a loss of appetite and can’t eat that much in one sitting. In that case, spreading caloric intake over several smaller meals would also work. Snacking on high protein snacks such as nuts or nut butters can also increase intake.
The Arkansas study, which looked 20 healthy adults between the ages of 52 and 70, compared the recommended level of protein (.8 grams per kilogram) with double that serving and found the doubled intake group did better in building muscle mass (also called protein synthesis).
This study found that the timing of intake was not important, and what mattered most was total grams of intake per day. That means you can eat your daily protein all in one sitting, though it may be hard on digestion.
Where to Get Protein
Experts agree that getting protein from food is better than getting it from supplements like powders. But if you need to use powder as a boost, the best one is collagen, derived from grass-fed animals. Collagen dissolves easily in cold water and can be added to smoothies, teas, and soups for a protein boost. The problem with most conventional protein powders is that they are packed with processed and unhealthy ingredients.
One of the best and cleanest sources of this amino acid are eggs. Eggs contain all the essential amino acids needed to build muscle. One egg contains 6 grams of high-quality protein. It’s always best to choose eggs that are organic or better yet, pasture raised. Chicken, fish, red meat, beans and nuts also provide good sources.
Some people are concerned about raising their cholesterol from increased meat and protein consumption. There are many modern studies that have disproven the original 40-year old study about saturated fat and cholesterol in foods causing heart disease and raising cholesterol. There is, however, a danger of gaining excess weight from increased calorie consumption. But there’s a great remedy for that. Exercise.
Not only does exercise help maintain a healthy weight but it also guards against age-related muscle wasting. In fact, lack of exercise can actually exacerbate sacropenia. While all exercise is good, the best kind of exercise for gaining or maintaining muscle is weight or resistance training. And this type of exercise is effective for all ages.
The 21-Day Body Makeover emphasizes a diet that is rich in organic, free range and grass fed protein, as well as lots of fruits, veggies and nuts to satisfy nutrient requirements and keep your gut happy.
Related Topic: What is the best exercise for aging muscles?