There’s something to be said about men and women over 50 who can still bring the gun show to the party. Muscular older bodies are going mainstream these days, as more people tune into the health benefits of resistance training and upping their daily protein needs.
Science on Aging is Clear
Science is clear that we not only progressively lose muscle as we age, but our physiology actually resists building new muscle. While that clearly sucks, we can’t change the human body’s natural, physiological progression of aging.
All is not lost, however. With the right physical activity and upping the amount of high-quality protein we consume, it is possible to push back the onset of sarcopenia, or the loss of muscle tissue as part of the aging process, and osteoporosis.
Daily Protein Needs
How much protein to active adults over 50 need? The U.S. Recommended Dietary Allowance says 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day is sufficient for all adults.
Not so much for those over 50. Research from the PROT-AGE Study Group recommends physically active adults get 1.0 to 1.2 grams/kg of body weight per day. That number goes up to 1.5 grams/kg of body weight for bodybuilders over 65.
Those of us in the 50-65 age group can safely assume 1.0 to 1.5 grams/kg of body weight of high quality protein per day.
For the record, 1 kilogram = about 0.45 pounds. So a 150-pound person weights about 67.5 kilograms and would aim for 101 grams of protein per day, assuming the high end of the range.
Recommended Daily Protein Needs
The study recommends exercise and protein intake as follows:
- Endurance exercise of 30 minutes per day or at individual levels that are safe and tolerable.
- Include resistance training – start with 10-15 minutes two to three times a week.
- Increase dietary protein to achieve daily intake of at least 1.2 grams protein/kg of body weight.
- After exercise, consume a post-recovery protein shake or supplement of at least 20 grams of protein for optimal protein utilization.
- Net protein synthesis is higher when consuming animal-based protein (whey) vs. plant-based.
It’s no mystery that we need to keep our bodies moving to support our muscles as as age. And what we feed those muscles is just as important. Research is clear. Increasing the intake of protein or amino acids in combination with exercise can counteract age-related muscle loss.