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Nutrition - Healthy Aging and Protein

Updated: Aug 26, 2020

Age related muscle loss is normal but combined with a poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle, acceleration of muscle deterioration increases and risk for compromised strength, mobility, falls, slower recovery from illness and even loss of independence.

Muscle loss can also cause weight gain. When your body loses muscle your metabolism is affected (the rate at which you burn calories, slows) requiring less calories to maintain a healthy body weight. The issue, not reducing caloric intake causes unintended weight gain but as you age, you still need the same, if not more nutrients to stay healthy. Therefore, making good nutritional decisions are important.

Many seniors struggle to get adequate protein: reduced appetite, meal skipping, decreased ability or motivation to prepare balanced meals (tea and toast), dental issues, impaired taste, swallowing problems, reduced financial resources or not paying too much attention to protein, are all factors. The amount and timing of protein is important. Not eating all your protein at one meal (example dinner) but spreading throughout the day. Research shows that seniors are less efficient at processing protein, getting enough at a meal helps to stimulate the uptake of amino acids into muscle. Experts recommend for older adults a general range of 20 - 30 grams of protein per meal (except with kidney failure).

Getting protein from real food is easy to do (no protein supplements required).

To give you an idea:

  • ¾ cup of Greek yogurt = 18 g (grams)

  • 1 cup milk = 8 g

  • 1 cup (So Good) soy milk = 8 g

  • 1 cup of almond milk = 1 g

  • 3 oz skinless chicken = 28 g

  • 3 oz salmon = 17 g

  • 1 large egg = 6 g

  • 1 cup lentils (cooked) = 18 g

  • 1 cup kidney beans (cooked) = 17 g

  • ¼ cup nuts = 6 g

  • 1 cup green peas = 9 g

  • 1 cup quinoa (cooked) = 9 g of protein.

Protein is also abundant in other grain products

  • 1 cup of cooked spelt (ancient grain) = 11 g

  • 1 cup of cooked teff (ancient grain) = 10 g

  • 3/4 cup cooked large flaked oats = 4 g

  • 1 slice sprouted bread = 4 to 5 g

And other foods as well

To check the protein content of other common foods click here or read the nutrition labels.

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