This Is How Much Protein You Should Be Getting Over 50

Getting enough protein is crucial for all of us, but even more so for people over 50.

"As you age, your protein needs increase as your body's muscle mass levels naturally decline," Lisa Moskovitz, RD and CEO at the NY Nutrition Group, tells Parade. But don't panic! "Muscle loss is a very natural and normal part of the aging process."

Find out how much protein people over 50 need daily, as well as how to get it in the most healthy ways possible.

Related: The Best High-Protein Foods

How Much Protein Do People Over 50 Need Daily?

Your protein intake may need to increase with your age.

"While the average healthy adult only requires a minimum of 0.8 grams (0.02 oz.) of protein per kg. (1.7 lbs.) of body weight, your needs may increase to 1 to 1.5 grams of protein (0.03 to 0.0.033 oz.) per kg. of body weight," Moskovitz says. "In fact, it is believed that averaging over 1 gram of protein per kg of body weight no matter where you are in the life cycle is ideal for proper tissue and muscle growth, repair and recovery."

So if you're over 50 years old and weigh 150 lbs. (68 kg.), for example, you may need 68 to 102 grams of protein a day, as opposed to the 55 grams you may have needed when you were younger.

What protein serving sizes can look like, according to Moskovitz:

  • A single-serving container of Greek yogurt has an average of 20 grams (0.7 oz.) of protein.

  • One egg provides 7 grams (about 0.25 oz.) of protein.

  • A 4-oz. serving of chicken breast (1/4 of a pound) has around 25 grams (0.88 oz.) of protein.

  • One cup of cooked black beans has 15 grams (0.53 oz.) of plant-based protein.

That said, every individual person's needs may be different.

Patricia Kolsea, MS, RDN, advises, "If you still have concerns about your protein intake, work with a doctor or registered dietitian to find out what amount of protein works best for you."

Related: Can You Eat Too Much Protein?

What Are the Healthiest Protein Sources for People Over 50?

Getting all that protein can seem like a tall order, but you have more choices than you realize, Kolsea notes.

Obviously, meat eaters will be happy here, but this isn't necessarily carte blanche to have a prime rib every night.

"Some great animal sources of protein include chicken, turkey, pork, lean ground meat and fatty fish (ie. salmon, tilapia, shrimp and tuna)," Kolsea says. "Aiming for lean proteins is key here!"

Related: 10 Foods With More Protein Than an Egg

What Are Meat-Free Protein Sources for People Over 50

Fret not, vegetarians and vegans! Kolsea has a robust list of protein sources for you. "Basically any kind of type of bean, soy product and nuts" are good, Kolsea says. If you're looking for specifics, try these options:

  • Black beans

  • Chickpeas

  • Kidney beans

  • Edamame

  • Tofu

  • Bean sprouts

  • Soy milk

  • Walnuts

  • Almonds and almond butter

  • Peanuts

  • Peanut butter

  • Chia seeds

  • Hemp seeds

Related: High-Protein Vegetables to Add to Your Diet

What Happens If People Over 50 Don't Get Enough Protein

Nothing good, that's for sure. "Placing an effort on ensuring adequate protein intake over 50 is one of the most foundational, yet overlooked areas of health, especially for women," Kylene Bogden, RDN, says. "Many do not realize it’s even more important than it was in your 20s and 30s. For my female clients who complain of chronic fatigue, non-stop sugar cravings and a 'slow metabolism,' adequate protein intake is often the answer to the problem."

Women who don't have enough protein may also experience:

  • Mood changes or trouble focusing (stemming from blood sugar fluctuations)

  • Swelling in the abdomen, legs, hands and feet

  • Brittle hair

  • Thinning hair

  • Fingernail ridges

  • Dry, flaky skin

  • Slow-healing injuries

  • Anemia

Obviously, some of these symptoms are quite serious, so if you're exhibiting any, be sure to check with your doctor to rule out other issues before changing your diet.

Next, find out if protein bars are actually good for you.