Muscle Health, Aging, and Protein Supplements

Sedentary lifestyles are well-known to be a cause of the onset of loss of muscles due to aging. Although the condition most commonly occurs at an advanced age, sedentary lifestyle habits often begin when the body naturally begins to lose muscle mass, at around the age of thirty to forty years. 

While it is recommended that healthy adults consume at least about 1 gram per kilogram of body weight, that amounts to roughly 70 grams of protein per day, for an average 150 lb. adult. That’s roughly two ribeyes or two pork chops, a day! Although meat eaters may rejoice, trying to eat only meat to satisfy your protein needs may cause high cholesterol and blood pressure, leading to an increased risk for heart disease and other Metabolic Syndrome-related illnesses. 

At an advanced age, the body’s chemistry is more sensitive, especially for those with pre-existing conditions. Without enough physical activity, the body converts excess protein into fat, just like carbohydrates, which can lead to health complications.

If you’re concerned that you’re not taking enough protein into your diet, here’s some good news, doctors now recommend that protein supplements are safe for older people to consume, likely in smaller doses, especially when paired with light or moderate exercise. 

Although protein supplements can easily lead to complications like high blood glucose levels, taking small amounts, less than the recommended dose, can help boost muscular health, lower glucose levels, and increase physical activity. If you’re unsure if protein supplements are right for you, please consult your doctor or nutritionist for more information.

Here are some tips for minimizing muscle loss and safely increasing your protein intake:

  • Focus on eating whole foods, first.

  • Balanced diets do often cover your nutritional needs, but eating too many processed foods can mean that you’ll miss out on roughage, which is good cellulose. Good plant proteins and fibers, great for keeping your muscles and skin firm, include celery and broccoli, as well as kale or bean sprouts.

  • Make sure to exercise regularly.

  • Exercise at least three times per week. Increase your protein intake slightly after exercise, to boost muscle recovery and improve your metabolic rate. This will help the body naturally heal the wear and tear from exercise, as well as help lower your visceral fat levels.  

  • Spread your intake across the day.

  • After light to moderate exercise, try having a snack of nuts and dried fruits, to supplement your protein intake, in addition to your meals. If you’re a vegetarian, make sure to include a healthy selection of beans and sprouts, or legume-based products, such as tofu or peanut butter. 

  • Be patient with protein supplements.

  • If you are taking protein supplements, try half the recommended dose, especially if you’re using a whey-based performance enhancing product. Protein supplements are designed to be taken for exercise strain and recovery, so if you feel that half the dose is not enough, first try increasing your intake in small increments, and see how your body responds. If you feel as if your fat percentage increases without explanation, you’re probably taking too much.

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