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Fuel Your Day with Protein
Evidence shows getting enough protein and spreading it throughout the day promotes healthy aging. Protein is the building block for muscle and is vital to reducing muscle loss which occurs with aging. Loss of muscle leads to weakness, increased risk of falls and a decline in mobility.
How Much Protein Daily?
Protein needs are dependent on body weight, age and certain medical conditions. Although current guidelines for healthy adults is .8 grams of protein for 2.2 lbs. of weight, experts indicate that a more optimal intake for adults age 65+ is at least 1-1.2 grams of protein for every 2.2 lbs you weigh. This translates into 68-82 grams of protein each day.
Protein Rich Foods Focus on fish, poultry, lean meat, eggs, legumes and reduced fat dairy products. Use the “Nutrition Facts” panel on packaged foods for protein content– be sure to check the portion size.
- Have protein throughout the day.
- Vary protein: include fish, poultry, lean meat, eggs and low-fat dairy products. This is to optimize leucine, an amino acid critical to building muscle. Plant based proteins can give you enough protein; however, you will usually need to eat more of them. Soy protein is considered to contain the most leucine.
- Breakfast and snacks usually tend to be lower in protein. To boost protein, include protein-rich foods.
Getting Enough Protein?
See how much protein you are eating? Aim for at least 20 grams of protein per meal and 8 grams of protein for snacks.
Grams of Protein at Meals:
Breakfast: ____ Lunch: _____ Dinner: _____
Grams of Protein at Snacks: __________
Total Protein for the Day: __________
The Bottom Line
If you want to stay strong and active as you age, good nutrition with adequate protein throughout the day is key. Along with protein, physical activity plays a role in maintaining muscle. Keep as active as you can. Try to engage in daily physical activity including resistance training and aerobic exercise. Check with your doctor or health care professional to see what the best exercise for you is!
NOTE: Your protein needs may differ if you have certain medical conditions such as kidney disease. Check with your physician before making dietary changes.
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