Preserving Muscle Mass and Losing Weight – A New Study Shows Protein is Key for Senior Citizens
by Greg Bastin on Oct 01, 2019
By Wen Liu • October 1, 2019
Your exercise routine keeps you healthy. Yet, your diet may cause you to lose valuable muscle mass. Find out what a new study reveals about your diet.
Aging changes the way your body processes food.
You take special care to make sure you receive just the right amount of nutrients to keep you healthy. And one of those diet restrictions is limiting the amount of daily protein intake.
You’re used to it.
However, a new study shows that popular knowledge may be wrong. Everyone may be underestimating the real protein needs of senior citizens. As a result, they’re losing the important benefits of high-protein diets.
The New Study
Doctors struggle with safe recommendations for senior citizen weight loss. Obesity is unhealthy and can lead to many serious health problems.
But dropping pounds can also lead to muscle and bone loss.
A new study sheds light on the right diets for seniors, though. 1 It suggests that diets that are low in calories and high in protein can give seniors the weight loss benefits they need. And it’s all without the risk of bone and muscle loss. The study consisted of 96 seniors over 65 years old. The researchers divided them randomly into two groups. The first group received low-calorie meals with 1 gram of protein per kilo of body weight and the other had 0.8 grams.
The 0.8-gram portion is the current recommended daily allowance.
The study found that participants in the high protein group lost around 18 pounds over 6 months. And 87% of the weight loss was fat. Most of the fat reduction occurred in common problem areas. Those include the stomach, hips, thighs, and rear areas.
Those people in the control group only lost 0.5 lbs.
They also found that seniors on the low-cal high-protein diet (1 gram of protein per kilogram of bodyweight) preserved muscle and bone mass.
This study suggests that you don’t have to forego your favorite steak. The wrong type of fats still aren’t good for you, but you can eat more meat than you thought.
Keeping healthy is one of the challenges that seniors face every day. But you don’t have to cut out protein to do it anymore.
In addition, you don’t have to worry about having to choose between weight loss and longevity. Adding more protein into your diet helps you drop the weight and still remain active.
How to Get More Protein?
You want to add more protein to your diet. But you want to do it the right way.
The right amount of daily protein is still up for debate.
For instance, if you weigh 150 pounds, you need around 68 grams of protein daily according to 1 gram of protein per kilogram of bodyweight used in the study.
However, that recommendation is only enough to keep you from developing a deficiency. Young adults need more than the DRI amount. And some seniors need even more than that.
This doesn’t necessarily mean you should eat all your protein in one sitting. So, forget about eating your weight in chicken breasts.
It’s really important to spread your protein intake throughout the day. This allows your body to catch up with what you eat and process it better.
Here are 7 tips to help you add quality proteins to your diet throughout the day.
Tip #1 – Calculate Your Protein Needs
It’s true that the recommended daily intake for protein is a bit low for seniors. But there’s no reason why you can’t use it as a good starting point.
Keep in mind, though, that everyone’s dietary needs are slightly different.
If you measure your body weight by kilogram, the old recommendation is 0.8 grams of protein per kilo. But we are using the updated value from the study of 1 gram of protein per kilo of bodyweight.
On average, you’ll find that it’s approximately 90 grams per day for the average 200 lb sedentary man. But for sedentary women who are around 140 lbs it’s a bit less at 64 grams per day.
Tip #2 – Keep a Food Diary
Also, starting a food diary or using an app can help keep track of your protein intake. Some apps give you protein values for different foods. So you can keep track directly on the app or write it down.
This can help you keep control of your own diet. You can set your own calorie goals and find out how many nutrients you’re eating per meal.
Just remember to keep it low-cal.
Tip #3 – Mix Up Your Protein Types
What happens if you're a vegetarian and you need to eat more protein?
Mix it up!
There’s nothing saying that your protein source has to be animal-based.
In fact, it’s better for your body if you use a combination of protein types. But if you can’t eat meat, there are plant and legume options.
- ➡️ Black beans
- ➡️ Lentil
- ➡️ Almonds
- ➡️ Flaxseeds
- ➡️ Pumpkin seeds
- ➡️ Hemp seeds
- ➡️ Sunflower seeds
If you’re a carnivore at heart, eat these high-protein options:
- ➡️ Bison
- ➡️ Pork
- ➡️ Turkey
- ➡️ Chicken breast
- ➡️ Beef
Don’t forget to add some dairy if you tolerate it well. Try adding these dairy foods that are high in protein:
- ➡️ Whey protein
- ➡️ Cottage cheese
- ➡️ Greek yogurt
- ➡️ Whole milk
Don’t be afraid to mix up your diet a little and try something new.
Tip #4 – High Protein Breakfast Ideas
How do you start your day?
Maybe you have a cup of coffee or tea and a pastry? Or perhaps nothing at all.
Many people skip protein intake for breakfast. But this is prime time for getting your day started right.
You don’t have to change your eating habits completely. Some simple additions can do the trick.
Try adding some whey protein, nuts, or seeds to your morning cereal or smoothie.
If you’re more of a hearty breakfast person, eggs will do. Each one holds 6 grams of protein.
Also, you can mix up your breakfast routine with Greek yogurt breakfast bowls.
Tip #5 – Mid-Day Meals
Add an extra dose of protein for lunch. Try substituting bread with lettuce. Instead of eating a sandwich, skip the bread and make lettuce wraps.
For a plant-based quick meal, mix a can of rinsed chickpeas with tomato, quinoa, and fresh parsley. Give it a boost with feta cheese. It’s tasty and full of protein.
You can also give your regular meal plans a quick protein boost by adding high-protein toppings like collagen, eggs, nuts, and seeds.
Tip #6 – More Protein for Dinner
Americans like to consume most of their protein during the last meal of the day.
Does this sound like you?
It’s more optimal to spread your protein consumption throughout the day, but you don’t have to do it.
So, go ahead and grill up that steak, pork, or chicken breast. Both are high in protein.
Put a little variety into your dinner plans. There are plenty of fish types to choose from.
And the average serving of salmon or tuna gives you 25 grams of protein which makes it easy to hit your protein goals.
Vegetarians aren’t left out in the cold at dinnertime. Plant-based protein meals are filling and tasty. Try going meatless once a week with a tofu stir fry, meatless chili, or chickpea falafel.
Tip #7 – Snacks, Shakes, and Add-Ons
Snacks are a great way to keep hunger at bay in between meals. But only if you snack right.
Combine fresh veggies and fruits with the following options for an added protein punch:
- ➡️ Seeds
- ➡️ Nuts like hazelnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds
- ➡️ Cheese
- ➡️ Smoked salmon
- ➡️ Healthy beef jerky
Nut butter is another good option to have on hand. Pick up a jar or two of your favorite nut butter and spread it on whole-grain toast.
Make sure to choose nut butter that doesn’t contain added sugars, though. You don’t want to replace one problem with another.
Protein shakes are not just the stuff of bodybuilding gym rats. They make a great snack or breakfast on the go. And you can choose from animal or plant-based proteins if you have diet restrictions.
Also, make sure that your protein powder doesn’t include awful extras like sugar, salt, and additives.
If coffee’s your thing, you may want to check out our Iced Coffee Whey Protein Isolate. It’s an easy and quick way to give drinks a protein boost. And it’s non-GMO, gluten-free, and grass-fed.
Best of all? One serving of the powder gives you 26g of protein.
Maximize Your Diet to Preserve Muscle Mass
You may cut down on protein out of habit.
Maybe your doctor recommended it for weight loss. Or maybe you’re simply following the recommended guidelines.
But seniors are a special case. And you have special diet requirements.
As the study revealed, just eating the recommended amount of protein isn’t enough. You need to boost your intake a little more.
The participants ate 1g of protein and saw great results. Not only did they preserve their muscle mass. But they also lost fat, too.
And all it takes are some protein boosts to your existing meal plan.
Are you ready to give your diet a boost? We can help.
Schedule your free 15-minute consultation with a certified health coach. We’ll review your current lifestyle and help you set some goals.