As we age, there are some nutrients that we need more of. Protein is one of them. During the ageing process we lose both muscle mass and muscle strength- but by combining resistance exercise with adequate protein intake, we increase muscle and reduce body fat. We are also more likely to get sick as we age, which can slow down the muscle building process. When you are unwell or recovering from illness, make sure to get plenty of protein, it’s essential for a quicker recovery.
The many functions that protein performs in our body include:
· Helping us feel fuller for longer so we end up eating less in between meals
· Boosting our immune system
Building of tissues and other life essential molecules
· Coordination of bodily functions
· Restoring levels of natural testosterone in both men and women, which decline as we age, contributing to weight gain and loss of muscle mass
If you don’t get enough protein, the body takes it from your lean muscle and bone, which makes you weak and frail and can result in growth failure, loss of muscle mass, a suppressed immune system, hormone depletion and weakness of the heart and respiratory systems.
How much do you need?
It’s never too late- or too early- to bump up your protein intake. For most of us, the recommended daily intake of 0.8g protein per kilogram of body weight is fine. For those that exercise regularly between 1.2-2g per kilogram of body weight is recommended, depending on the intensity of the exercise. As for the elderly- specifically those aged 70 years and older, you need about 25% more protein.
For the over 70’s the recommendation is to eat 1g of protein for every kilogram of body weight each day. This means that a woman over 70 who weighs 65kg would require at least 65g of protein every day.
Spreading protein across meals during the day has also been associated with greater muscle strength, so include protein at every meal and in snacks.
Sources of Protein