We are community supported and may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site. Learn more

Use These 4 Protein Tips for Healthy Muscle Mass

By Thea Banjac November 29, 2022 Health and Fitness

You have probably heard that gaining and maintaining muscle mass is important as you age. In case that hasn’t sunk in yet, I am here to remind you once again… maintaining your muscle mass is absolutely crucial if you want to age gracefully, remain independent, and maintain your quality of life!

According to a systematic review, muscle mass decreases 3–8% each decade after the age of 30, and continues to decline even faster after the age of 60.

There are many factors that contribute to the amount of muscle mass you have, but one secret to maintaining your muscle mass is to optimize your body’s utilization of protein! Luckily, this is all under your control, and with the following lifestyle practices that focus on optimizing your protein intake, you will be well on your way to more muscle mass, greater strength, and improved functionality.

Follow these 4 rules consistently to maximize your protein utilization:

Eat AT LEAST 0.5 Grams of Protein Per Pound of Bodyweight Every Day

Studies show that muscle protein synthesis decreases with age, meaning that a higher protein intake is necessary to stimulate muscle growth as you get older. According to the PROT-AGE study, people over age 65 should consume at least 1.0-1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight daily to maintain and regain lean body mass and function.

To keep it simple for us folks who use the Imperial system, take your body weight in pounds and divide it by 2, and that is how many grams of protein you should aim for per day. For example, if you weight 150 pounds, aim for at least 75 grams of protein every day!

The same study also recommends that, “Most older adults who have acute or chronic diseases need even more dietary protein (i.e., 1.2-1.5 g/kg body weight/d).”

Note: Individuals with kidney dysfunction should talk to their doctor about a protein intake that is healthy and safe for them.

Aim for 25-30 Grams of Protein Per Meal

According to the PROT-AGE Study, older adults also need a larger amount of protein at each meal in order to maximally stimulate muscle growth. While younger individuals may only need 20 grams of protein per meal, older adults require at least 25-30 grams of protein per meal in order to stimulate muscle growth.

To consume enough protein to meet the amount described in tip #1, you should aim for 2-3 meals per day, with 25-30 grams of protein at each meal. If this does not fulfill your protein requirements based on your weight, or if you are frail, losing muscle, or having trouble gaining muscle, it may be helpful to add in 1 or 2 high protein snacks as well.

Bonus tip: Be particularly sure to get adequate protein at breakfast, as this is when your body needs it the most!

Choose Sources of Highly “Useable” Protein

While many plant-based foods do contain a moderate amount of protein, meat will almost always provide a higher concentration of protein with fewer accompanying calories from carbohydrates and fats.

Eggs, chicken, fish, turkey, and lean cuts of beef are great sources of protein. If you experience digestion or absorption issues, consider taking a digestive enzyme supplement with meals that contain any animal protein.

Protein powder is also a convenient source of protein if a whole food meal is not available. Whey protein has been shown to stimulate muscle synthesis more effectively than casein, so opt for a whey protein concentrate if you are sure that you can tolerate dairy (consider a goat whey supplement like Naked Goat which may be even easier to digest). Otherwise, choose an organic plant-based protein made from rice, pea, or hemp.

Increase Protein Consumption Around Exercise

When it comes to your muscles, the old adage holds very true – “If you don’t use it, you lose it!” Study results showed that resistance exercise was as effective in older adults as it was in young adults for reversing muscle loss and low muscle protein synthesis.

To maximize the results of your workout, aim to consume at least 20 grams of protein along with at least 15 grams of carbohydrates within an hour after completion. If you can’t fit in a full meal at this time, opt for a protein shake and a piece of fruit.

It may not have taken much work to maintain a strong and fit physique when you were in your 20s, 30s, or even 40s. Muscle mass is much easier to build and maintain at that age! However, if you are a woman over the age of 60, maintaining adequate muscle mass is now something that you must actively work on.

It’s never too late to start, but if you still feel strong and healthy, then NOW is the best time to begin implementing these practices on a daily basis!

Do you make sure to consume enough protein in your daily meals? What do you include on most days? Every day? Which is your most protein-rich meal?

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

7 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
JOHANATHAN

Rolled Oates, milk, low-fat yogurt, fruits, hard-boiled eggs, avo and peanut butter on toast, leafy greens, broccoli, chickpeas, kidney beans, sweet potatoes, nuts, salmon fish, Chicken breasts, steak, sardines fish,

IMG-20220827-WA0071.jpg
Sara

Oatmeal, broccoli, beans. I haven’t eaten meat for years and have a diet high in protein. And yes- eggs! Yum.

Thea Banjac

If you haven’t tried hemp hearts, those are also a great source of vegan protein too, Sara! Just 3 tbsp. provides 10g of protein and it’s easy to add them to just about anything!

Violet

I am having such trouble with weight gained since RA diagnosis 20 years ago. It just keeps gathering around my middle even though I’m at a steady weight, though overweight. I will evaluate the protein amount I’m eating, I’m sure I need to about double what I’m used to. At 62 I’m also being told my A1C is prediabtetic range. It’s a challenge when I want to be healthier, not declining every year.

Thea Banjac

Hi Violet! Having a condition like RA can certainly make it difficult to lose weight. If you are gaining weight in your midsection, but maintaining a steady overall weight, that may mean your muscle mass is decreasing – if so, that would mean protein is extra important for you! I work with women with auto-immune conditions such as RA to help them lose weight. If you would like more info about that, feel free to send me an email at thea@vezawellness.com .

Linda

It is really hard to get the amount of protein that the new guidelines recommend. I have started having a half cup of cottage cheese as an evening snack. The brand I eat has 14 grams of protein per half cup.

Thea Banjac

Hi Linda! You’re right, it can be challenging to get enough protein! I am so glad you are prioritizing it and that you’ve found a way to add more into your diet. Cottage cheese does have a surprising amount of protein per serving.

The Author

Thea Banjac helps women with auto-immune conditions lose weight, rebalance their bodies, and regain control of their health so they can live without debilitating symptoms. She combines functional medicine lab testing with personalized wellness protocols to target root cause contributors of each client’s unique auto-immune condition. Sign up for a free consultation at www.vezawellness.com.

You Might Also Like