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Protein for Older Adults

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Older adults who drink protein shakes may retain more muscle and lose more fat. It’s true that high-protein shakes can help develop lean muscle mass, which is a benefit for all men and women, but it’s also true that shakes can encourage fat loss, increase satiety, deliver essential nutrients and even improve metabolic activity.

Body composition changes as people get older. One of the noteworthy alterations is the reduction in total body protein. A decrease in skeletal muscle is the most noticeable manifestation of this change but there is also a reduction in other physiologic proteins such as organ tissue, blood components, and immune bodies as well as declines in total body potassium and water. This contributes to impaired wound healing, loss of skin elasticity, and an inability to fight infection. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for adults for protein is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. Protein tissue accounts for 30% of whole-body protein turnover but that rate declines to 20% or less by age 70. The result of this phenomenon is that older adults require more protein/kilogram body weight than do younger adults. Recently, it has become clear that the requirement for exogenous protein is at least 1.0 gram/kilogram body weight. Adequate dietary intake of protein may be more difficult for older adults to obtain. (Journal of the American College of Nutrition)

The loss of muscle mass and function associated with sarcopenia (loss of muscle tissue as a natural part of the aging process) has debilitating effects on older men and women. Skeletal muscle mass, function, and quality of life are influenced by a variety of modifiable behaviors. For all adults, optimizing the potential for muscle protein anabolism (the synthesis of complex molecules in living organisms from simpler ones together with the storage of energy; constructive metabolism) by consuming an adequate amount of high-quality protein, in combination with physical activity, represents a promising strategy to prevent or delay the onset of sarcopenia. (The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition)

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Protein and Muscle Mass Loss

Protein is used for the production of muscles. When you do not have enough protein, your body will break down your muscles to produce protein. Because solid food takes more time to digest and to break down the protein and send it to the muscles, it can be best to take a protein shake immediately following a workout, since protein shakes only take about 30 minutes to reach the muscle after ingestion. If you are undergoing physio-therapy treatment “The Pettibon Spine Research Institute” recommends to take protein shake one hour prior to session for better results. Retaining muscle mass and getting an adequate amount of protein is particularly important for men and women as they age and their risks of osteoporosis and joint problems increase.  In addition beside building muscles proteins also function as building blocks for bones, cartilage, skin, and blood.

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Why Do We Need Protein?

Our body absolutely requires protein to make enzymes, hormones, DNA replication and other essential for body chemicals. Protein is an important building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood. Proteins are like little engines that build essential for life parts of our body. Along with fat and carbohydrates, protein is a “macronutrient,” meaning that the body needs relatively large amounts of protein to live.

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Fat Loss

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Using a protein shake as an occasional meal replacement may help you lose more weight and fat than you would by following a reduced-calorie diet. According to the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,” high-quality proteins are more satiating than either carbohydrates or fats, and they may have the ability to improve the body’s metabolism. Additionally, a study that appeared in the journal “Nutrition & Metabolism” in 2008 stated that obese women and men lost more fat when they drank two protein shake meal replacements per day and followed a low-calorie diet. Subjects who adhered to the diet without the shakes lost less total body fat and more lean muscle mass. The study did not take nutrient deficiencies or diet balance into account, however. Unless you have approval from your doctor, do not replace more than one meal daily with a protein shake.