Maintaining and building muscle is always important, but it becomes especially essential as we age. That’s because over time, our bodies naturally begin to lose muscle mass in a process known as sarcopenia. This muscle loss can lead to a decrease in strength and mobility and increase the risk of falls and other injuries. Luckily, there are ways to reduce the sarcopenia and build stronger muscles over 50 (including exercises like these). In fact, there’s one crucial food rule that doctors say you should always follow if you want to stay strong as ever: eat protein with every meal.
To learn more about the importance of ample protein intake for muscle-building, we checked in with Kellie Middleton, MD, MPH. She told us all about how the macronutrient is essential for a number of functions. Find all of her insight and advice below!
Eat protein with every meal
Protein is important for so many reasons; it should always be a priority in all of your meals and snacks. This is particularly true when it comes to maintaining and building strong muscles. “Protein helps build, rebuild, and maintain muscle tissue; research has also indicated that consuming enough protein can help reduce the risk of sarcopenia,” MIddleton tells us. “Additionally, adequate protein intake helps to repair minor everyday muscular damage and promote muscle recovery following exercise.”
Protein is an essential nutrient that plays a number of important roles in the body. It is a key component of muscle tissue, and is necessary for muscle growth and repair. When we lift weights or engage in other forms of resistance training, we create tiny tears in our muscle fibers. These tears are then repaired by the body, which uses protein to build new muscle tissue. This is why it is so important to consume enough protein when trying to build muscle; without it, the body won't have the necessary building blocks to repair and grow muscle tissue.
Protein is also important for maintaining muscle mass as we age. As we get older, our bodies become less efficient at using protein to repair and grow muscle tissue. This means that we may need to consume more protein in order to maintain muscle mass and function. Consuming enough protein in every meal can help to ensure that the body has a constant supply of this essential nutrient, which can help to prevent muscle loss–not to mention keep you feeling satiated and energized!
How much protein to eat and how to get it
Middleton says that research shows “those aged 51–69 should consume 1.0 to 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram (2.2lbs) body weight per day; and those over 70 should consume 1.2 to 1.5 grams of protein per kilogram (2.2lbs) body weight per day.” Luckily, there’s no shortage of delicious proteins out there, from lean meats like chicken and turkey to plant-based options like beans, nuts and tofu. However, if you’re worried about meeting your daily protein intake, protein powders and bars are another great, convenient option. Keep in mind that it’s important to choose a high-quality protein supplement that contains a complete amino acid profile, as the body needs all of the essential amino acids in order to build and repair muscle tissue.
No matter how you get your protein, though, what matters is that you make including it in every meal a priority. If you follow this rule as you age, maintaining and building your muscle mass will be much easier–plus, you’ll be energized enough to take on all those muscle-building exercises!