There’s no denying that we get wiser with age. However, our bodies also go through less endearing changes including the loss of muscle mass which speeds up in our 60s and 70s. Reduced lean body mass during aging leads to decreases in total body protein and can contribute to increased frailty, impaired wound healing, and decreased immune function. A combination of good nutrition and exercise intervention is the best way to prevent this age-associated decline in lean body mass. Data shows that most adults 65 years and older do not meet recommendations for protein intake. Current protein guidelines are not specific for adults in this age range, but do offer a category for all adults over 50. The Recommended Dietary Allowance suggests consuming 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight per day. This would be roughly 51 grams of protein for a 140 pound female and 65 grams for a 180 pound male.
However, current research has found evidence that older adults require more protein to reduce muscle wasting and maintain physical function capacity. These studies recommend a daily protein intake of 1.0-1.2 g/kg for adults aged 65+. By this standard, a 140 pound woman would need 64–76 grams/day and a 180 pound man would need 82–98 grams/day. That breaks down to an average between 20–30 grams of protein for each meal—or about 4 ounces of meat, poultry or seafood or 4 eggs.
What if you’re between the ages of 50 and 65? There’s no specific standard for this age range beyond the adult recommendation, but beginning to increase your protein intake during this time is a good idea as a preventive measure to ensure that you’ll be active and energized well into your 60s and 70s. Try incorporating some of the protein-rich foods below into your day, and of course, visit one of the nutritionists at Starkel Nutrition if you have questions about your individual protein needs.
|1 cup plain Greek yogurt||
|3 ounces chicken breast||
|3 ounces salmon||17 g|
|1 cup cooked black beans||15 g|
|1 cup plain yogurt||10 g|
|2 tbsp nut butter||8 g|
|1 egg||7 g|
|1 cup oatmeal (cooked in water)||6 g|
|1 slice whole wheat toast||4 g|
Written by Emily and edited by Flannery, both student interns
Today’s Dietitian, 2013 and Paddon-Jones & Leidy. Dietary protein and muscle in older persons. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2014; 17(1):5-11.
“Protein for Fitness: Age Demands Greater Protein Needs.” Protein for Fitness: Age Demands Greater Protein Needs. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Jan. 2017.