Dietary protein often associates to fibrous mass, not only in older adults but to the people of all ages. It is a known fact that proteins are the building blocks of muscle. Though, protein’s significance spreads well beyond that. Protein is necessary for the majority of our body’s physiological processes.
Chernoff, R. said:
The importance of dietary protein cannot be underestimated in the diets of older adults; inadequate protein intake contributes to a decrease in the reserve capacity, increased skin fragility, decreased immune function, poorer healing, and longer recuperation from illness.
Hence, protein is a critical macronutrient, and its adequate intake is a must for everyone! However, for the older adults, the demand may even be a bit higher.
Protein Requirements for Lean Body Mass and Bone Density
As said above, proteins are the building blocks of muscle. Hence, they’re also necessary to maintain existing muscle over building new ones. If weight training forms part of your routine, you must increase your protein intake. You have to match the existing demands of your body (maintaining muscle) along with the increased demand you are generating by undergoing resistance training for building new muscle.
However, further research is needed to ascertain for sure that dietary protein can prevent sarcopenia (degenerative loss of muscle tissue as a result of ageing) in older adults. Older adults who also implement resistance exercises into their routines might need even more amount of protein. There is enough evidence that an increased protein intake helps in improving bone density and prevents fractures, especially when the same is combined with resistance training exercises.
Importance of Protein Quality
Unlike fats and carbs, there are few ‘bad’ proteins. Hence, protein quality is paramount. It’s critical that you consume protein from a Complete Protein source. A complete protein source is a product containing all eight essential amino acids or the EAAs. These EAAs should come from food and are necessary for all protein related things. They are non-negotiable.
Quality sources of protein come from grass-fed beef and livestock, naturally fed and free-range chickens, whole eggs, and wild-caught fish. It is commonly said, “You are what you eat!” Well, actually it is not entirely true. The true quote should be: “You are what you eat eats.”
The nutritional value derived from eating animals’ meat quality is directly related to their diet. The tissues store the nutrients an animal consumes while eating. If the animals are pumped with excessive hormones and antibiotics, the quality of meat will greatly suffer.
At the local supermarkets, we can look at the difference between a wild-caught salmon and farm-raised salmon. Often, they won’t put them side-by-side in the case. This illustration can evidently change the way you think about food forever.
Supplementing your diet with a superior quality protein powder is a considerable factor. Various supplement companies are taking advantage of the demand for quality protein powders, which is a good news. There are numerous quality protein powders and brands to choose from.
Consider the following when choosing a protein powder:
- Length of Ingredient List
- A good thumb rule is the fewer ingredients, the better
- Protein Type
- Whey protein isolate/hydrolysate are great sources
- Avoid soy protein, especially if you are a male. For females, soy protein does not offer a much better service, so it’s best to avoid it altogether
Protein Intake and Kidney Function
Many people fear facing kidney issues when recommended to increase their protein intake. This fear is self-imposed and isn’t based on any factual evidence. If you already have a kidney problem, you should keep a closer eye on it. There are still many conflicting data directly correlating kidney problems to a higher intake of dietary protein. If you have any scepticism on the same, it is best to consult your doctor.
Determining Protein Intake Amount
Recommended Daily Amount (RDA)
The Recommended Daily amount or RDA is 0.8 grams of protein per kg of body weight, i.e. 0.36 grams per pound of the weight of your body. For a man weighing 200 lb, the RDA of protein will be equal to 72 grams of protein. Even for a sedentary individual, that’s an incredibly low recommendation. By providing such a conservative amount, the RDA sides on the side of caution. Let’s study it a bit further.
72g of protein equals 288 calories
For an average 200 lb Male, the resting metabolic rate is somewhere between 2,400-2,600 calories. Hence, the recommended 72g of protein comprises about 8% of overall intake, leaving 92% of the calories which will come from fat and carbohydrates.
That allows 46% (92%/2) of your diet to comprise of carbohydrates, which are not even 100% necessary for your survival. The 200 lb Male can intake 276-299g of carbs per day. For a sedentary individual, that is considered a bit too high.
If 46% of our example’s diet comes from fats, the diet constitutes of 123-133g of fats per day. Now, a diet high in fat and carbs is a sure way to gain weight. One thing that makes it very easy to consume high-carb, high-fat diet is over-eating.
Protein Consumption For Athletes
The recommended protein intake for athletes is higher, ranging from 1.2-1.6g per kg weight, each day. This amount is not even realistic for the sedentary individual. The 200 lb Male in our example would now be consuming protein between 109-145.5g per day.
Protein Consumption For Older Adults
For the older adults who are still very much into fitness and train similar to an athlete, the protein demand for them would be even higher. Measuring macronutrients by percentages is a sound option. Protein should constitute no less than 30% of your overall diet. In some cases, the protein demand can get close to even a 50% mark.
Protein is a critical diet constituent for many different physiological processes; however, it doesn’t receive adequate consideration from the RDA. Remember, that the function of the protein is far-reaching than merely building muscles. Innumerable physiological processes require sufficient protein intake. You will be doing your health and physique a disservice if you are not fueling your body with an adequate amount of protein.