Getting Enough Protein in Your Diet is Crucial to Staying Strong as You Age

Recently I started working with a new client who is in his early 70s and complained of losing a lot of strength and energy over the past couple of years.  After talking with him about his diet and exercise habits I bought to his attention that he was not eating nearly enough protein to maintain his muscle mass and strength.  I explained to him that a loss in his muscle mass was directly related to a loss of his strength and the importance of getting enough protein in his diet to build and maintain his muscle was crucial to him keeping his strength as he aged.

The loss of muscle with age is a natural process called sarcopenia.  Sarcopenia leads to muscle weakness, fatigue, and frailty associated with old age.  This process can begin in your 30s and it accelerates with time if you don’t do anything about it.  Fortunately, you can slow down, and even reverse this process by strength training 2 to 3 times each week, and getting enough protein in your diet to support muscle growth and repair.

Research has now revealed that your muscle plays a central role in your whole-body protein metabolism by serving as the principle reservoir for amino acids to maintain protein synthesis (growth and regeneration) in vital tissues and organs in the absence of consuming enough protein in your diet. In other words, if you don’t get enough protein in your diet, your body breaks down your muscle mass in order to make the necessary amino acids you need for survival.

Protein is a necessary part of every living cell in your body, and next to water it comprises the greatest portion of your body weight. Protein substances make up your muscles, ligaments, tendons, organs, glands, nails, hair, and many vital body fluids. Your body uses the protein you eat for the vital functions of survival first before it devotes any for muscle building and repair. Thus, if you are not consuming enough protein in your diet optimal muscle building and repair is impossible.which leads to a state of weakness and fatigue.

While 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight has been the old the normal recommendation for daily protein intake, new studies show that 1 to 1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight may be more beneficial in building, maintaining, and reducing muscle loss especially as you age.. The goal of protein consumption should be to optimize muscle growth and repair and studies now reveal that consuming 25 to 30 grams of protein at each meal is necessary for this to take place.

Lean meat, poultry, fish, and dairy are the highest quality, and most bioavailable sources of protein.  It takes consuming 4 to 5 ounces of meat, poultry, or fish at each meal to get the 25 to 30 grams of protein necessary to stimulate maximal muscle growth and repair and thus, keep your strength as you age.