Why you need protein in old age? You need enough protein to maintain your body’s immune system and muscles. Deficiency in protein increases your risk of infections and pressure sores, falls and broken bones, and can make movement challenging in the old age.
Protein deficiency in older adults is a growing concern and can lead to problems with wound healing, dental issues, easy bruising, fatigue and decreased appetite.
In this article, you will find: Do the elderly need more protein? How much protein an older adult should eat & how the seniors can meet their recommended daily requirement of protein.
Why You Need More Protein As An Older Adult?
When you eat protein, the amino acids that are indigested and absorbed into the bloodstream set off a response in muscle to transform amino acids into protein. However, many studies have found that as we age we tend to become unyielding to this positive response of protein ingestion. This anabolic effect to the ingestion of protein is one of the main reasons why whey and other protein supplements are in vogue as post-exercise supplements. Moreover, various studies show that this ‘anabolic resistance’ in old age can be conquered by ingesting larger amounts of protein, particularly leucine.
How Much Protein An Older Adult Should Eat In Day?
Basic Protein Recommendation For Seniors
The Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine recommends that men over age 50 should aim for at least 56 grams of protein each day. For women in this age bracket, the recommended minimum amount is 46 grams daily. However, depending on your weight and health condition, this may be too much or too little for you.
Your Actual Daily Protein Requirement
The recommended dietary allowance, or RDA, is 0.8 grams of protein for each kilogram of body weight, irrespective of your age. But researchers from the University of Arkansas Department of Geriatrics observed that going above the RDA is especially beneficial for seniors. As per a study published in the 2008 “Clinical Nutrition” journal, researchers recorded that ingesting 1.5 grams of protein for each kilogram of body weight can improve health. This higher recommendation may boost immune health, aid in wound healing, help control blood pressure and even keep your bones as strong as possible.
The Finer Calculation
Divide your weight in pounds by 2.2 to convert to kilograms. For instance, at a weight of 150 pounds (68 kilograms), following the RDA guidelines for protein means you should eat 54.5 grams of protein every day. However considering the higher 1.5-gram-per-kilogram recommendation from the University of Arkansas researchers your protein intake amounts to 102 grams.
Caution: For optimum level protein intake, we recommend that you should speak to your doctor or registered dietitian.
How Do You Physically Plan To Reach This Goal?
Lean meats, seafood, lentils, beans and low-fat dairy products are some of the healthiest protein-rich foods. However whey protein, a dairy byproduct, may be especially beneficial for older adults. Researchers at the University of California Davis compared soy to whey protein. So if you have a hard time chewing high-protein foods or find it difficult to meet your daily-recommended needs, you could benefit by adding whey protein to smoothies, oatmeal or juice.
(i) Make sure you get sufficient protein by eating a good protein source at each meal and at snacks.
(ii) One egg white has 7 grams of protein, 1 string cheese has 8 grams, and a can of tuna or chicken has close to 40 grams
(iii) If you have difficulty chewing or swallowing your protein then there are many ways to drink your protein as well.
(iv) Milk, yogurt, soymilk, protein smoothies and some nutrition supplements can be great sources of protein too.
Note: Loss of appetite and changes in appetite are a natural part of aging. So, majority of the seniors don’t get enough protein from their daily meals. To make sure that you get enough protein, you can eat protein supplements as snacks in between your normal meals. These supplements are nutrients dense, so even a small amount is sufficient to provide you good amount of protein.
Breakfast tip: Cook your hot breakfast cereal with low fat milk or soymilk instead of water (+8 grams). Read here for Best Protein Rich Breakfast.
Lunch tip: Add ½ cup boiled beans to your salad or soup (+6 grams)
Dinner tip: Finish the protein on your plate before starting on the fruits, vegetables, starches and dessert.
Snack: Add a couple of tablespoons of nonfat dry milk powder to your pudding or smoothie (+6 grams)
Caution: Remember that too much of anything is not always a good thing – this holds true in case of protein too! Speak to your doctor about your protein requirements if you have kidney or other medical issues.
Useful Related Post: Fat Facts For Seniors