Your protein requirements change as you age, not only in regards to the amount of protein you need, but many experts believe the type of protein you need changes too.
So knowing all about protein and your requirements by age is important to not only your fit goals but your overall health.
We’ve done some digging and we’re out to set the gold-standard for protein requirements by age.
Muscles + Protein
You know that if you want to tone or bulk up, you’re going to need to ensure you get enough protein. The amino acids found in protein are what help give your muscles the strength to lift hard and heavy. They also help you repair the broken-down or torn muscles while you work towards increasing your muscle mass; a process is called protein synthesis.
Protein gives your muscles the energy necessary to achieve your fitness goals. However, protein is not all created equally, so you want to be mindful about choosing only high-quality complete protein sources. And no, fast food burgers are not what we’d call a smart choice. If you want to learn more about eating a balanced, healthy, realistic diet, grab a copy of our BodyRock Meal Plan and Nutrition Guide Bundle.As you know, the first thing you should do after a workout is eat a protein-rich recovery meal; this can be as simple as consuming a protein shake. Ideally, this means around 20-30g of protein to help your muscles recover from weight training or a HIIT. If you fail to eat enough of the right kinds of protein (although we caution you not to over-indulge, there’s no need to pack away six chicken breasts when one is likely sufficient) you’re doing your body a disservice and increasing the chances of injury.
There is no universal diet suitable for everybody that’s why we see such dietary diversity, from keto to plant-based athletes. With no right or wrong choice, we wanted to briefly touch on what constitutes a high-quality complete protein source.
Animal proteins like chicken, are naturally complete protein sources.However, you need to be mindful of the cut and quality of the meat you’re buying. Lean ground meats and skinless chicken breasts are good examples of the kinds of ‘cuts’ or healthier animal protein options. Any additional grease (sorry that means bacon fat), processed meats (sausage), skin or fat on your pork chops are what you want to limit.
In terms of quality, if you can afford the extra expense of buying grass-fed beef, wild-caught fish or free-range poultry (including eggs) you’re choosing a higher-quality protein source that contains less in the way of hormones and antibiotics (as compared to factory-farmed animals).
Complete animal proteins to consider:
- Dairy: Milk, Cheese or Greek Yogurt
Plant-Based Protein Sources
Going vegan once held a certain hippie stigma now it’s been re-packaged like acid-wash jeans, and given new life. Vegan diets, also called plant-based diets, is an increasingly popular emerging choice for athletes. It may seem impossible to thrive on plants, but with a little research, it’s a great way to increase your athletic performance.
However, getting adequate protein from a plant-based diet isn’t as simple as eating some turkey breast, you’re going to need to do some protein pairing to ensure you get all the amino acids your body needs. Fortunately, not every meal needs to contain all the amino acids. If you’ve considered jumping on the plant-based bandwagon, read up on how to power your body with plants by getting a copy of our BodyRock Plant-Based Vegan Guide.
Complete plant-based proteins and pairings:
- Tempeh or soy (tofu or soybeans)
- Pumpkin seeds
- Rice and beans
- Lentils and legumes
- Chia seeds
- Ezekial bread (combo of wheat, spelt, barley, beans, lentils and millet)
- Seitan (for those not sensitive to wheat)
- Hummus and whole-wheat toast, pita or quality bread
Learn more: Plant-Based vs. Animal Protein.
Protein Requirements By Age
Protein requirements change as you age, going from supporting your growth to preservation. Additionally, it isn’t just how much protein you should eat; it’s also about the kinds of protein you should be consuming—as we said before, protein sources aren’t created equally.
So how much protein do you need by age? Let's find out.
You’ve got youth on your side, so you can eat a diverse range of protein sources, both animal and plant-based, as your body needs it to support proper overall growth and reproduction. This is the time in your life when you can chow down on animal protein, but try your best to eat quality meats, limit processed or fast foods and don’t overdo it. You can hit your daily protein allotment without polishing off a box of chicken fingers (not great calories). Too much protein is still too many calories and will convert to body fat.
Generally speaking, this is how much protein you need a day:
- Sedentary: 1.2g of protein/kg of bodyweight
- Active: 1.8g of protein/kg of bodyweight.
- Weight-loss or for Gains: 3.3g of protein/kg of bodyweight.
As far as your body is concerned, once you reach the age of 45, it’s time to start storing or preserving protein—especially, animal—which could mean it stores as fat if you’re not active enough.
Why this should concern you is that animal proteins trigger a gene called mTor, and this gene is what determines how well you age. Too much animal protein directly affects longevity. So switching to more plant-based proteins is a wise, healthy choice that’s also better for your heart. You can still have it all, meat included, just keep it to a couple of meals per week instead of daily.
Your daily protein intake over 40 should be:
- Average: 1.0-1.2g of protein/kg of bodyweight
You’ve already cut back on your intake of animal protein, which is awesome, but now it’s time to switch your focus to preserving your muscle mass, which of course means exercise and protein.
You don’t want to lose muscle so your plant protein intake needs to increase. Studies also show that seniors who don’t eat enough protein are more susceptible to mobility loss. Importantly, in this age bracket, increasing your daily amount of protein further may actually help you recover better after a hip or knee replacement.
The amount of protein for seniors is:
- Average: 1.2g of protein/kg of bodyweight
- Chronic or Acute Conditions: 1.2-1.5g of protein/kg of bodyweight
Protein Requirements By Age
No matter your age or activity level, getting enough protein throughout the day is critical to your overall health. So when you’re meal prepping for the day, make sure your choices are rich in complete, high-quality proteins.
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