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The Importance Of Protein For Women Over 50

Protein For Women Over 50

Permanent Weight Loss: Dr. Barbara L Katz

We all want to stay healthy and active as long as possible. However, as we head into midlife and beyond, many of us will become frail.

One way to delay frailty is by eating sufficient protein, which is necessary for maintaining muscle mass and strength. 

People over the age of 50 are prone to sarcopenia – the loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength. While the daily recommended protein intake for most people is 0.8 grams of protein for each kilogram of body weight (1 kilogram is equal to 2.2 pounds), recent research has shown that older people need 1-1.2 grams of protein for each kilogram of body weight daily to preserve muscle mass – because we metabolize protein less well than when younger.  

“Recent recommendations are that older adults consume about 30 grams of protein with each meal.”

Daily Protein Requirements For Women Over 50:

Our muscles contain almost half our body’s protein. While the optimal amount of daily protein is still evolving, consuming an adequate amount of high-quality protein at each meal may delay the onset and progression of muscle loss. Because our bodies can’t utilize more than 30 grams of protein at one time, it is recommended that our daily protein intake be evenly distributed throughout the day. Recent recommendations are that older adults consume about 30 grams of protein with each meal. Since almost half the older population does not ingest even 0.8 grams of protein for each kilogram of body weight daily – 90 grams of protein daily is a major increase in protein for many of us. I think we can see why protein for women over 50 is worth addressing.

Leucine is an essential amino acid needed for muscle production. Leucine is found in protein-containing foods. Whey proteins (those derived from milk) are especially rich in leucine (13 grams of leucine are in every 100 grams of whey protein). While most nutritional information does not specify how much leucine a food contains, recent recommendations suggest we need at least 3 grams of leucine three times daily to preserve our muscle mass. 

Animal proteins are more easily absorbed than plant proteins. They also contain more essential amino acids and are considered higher-quality proteins. Plant proteins are more difficult for our bodies to utilize. Therefore, if you avoid animal products, more plant protein is required to maintain optimal muscle mass. 

Protein Supplements:

If you are unable to eat the recommended amounts of protein, consider adding a protein supplement to your diet to help support and preserve your muscles. Protein supplements are not regulated – and may not contain as much protein as they say. Moreover, protein powders contain protein from either milk (casein or whey protein), eggs, or plants (from peas, soybeans, rice, or potatoes).

Protein supplements may also contain other substances such as sugar, artificial sweeteners, flavorings, thickeners, vitamins, and minerals, and they differ in calorie content.  Heavy metals have also been found in some protein powders.

“Scientists have found that muscle sensitivity to protein increases after exercise.”

I recommend using a protein powder that has a symbol from an independent verification laboratory – which indicates the powder has been examined and contains what the label indicates. Then, use a protein supplement you enjoy that contains ingredients with which you are comfortable.

Commonly Eaten Foods & Their Protein Content:

As an example, here are some commonly eaten foods and how they stack up on protein.

  • Beef – 3 oz – 24 grams 
  • Salmon – 3 oz – 22 grams
  • Chicken – 3 oz – 20 grams
  • Greek yogurt – 1 cup – 24 grams
  • Milk – 1 cup – 8 grams
  • Lentils – 1 cup – 17 grams
  • Almonds – ⅓ cup – 10 grams
  • Egg – 1 large – 6 grams

Protein Intake Key For Women Over 50:

Scientists have found that muscle sensitivity to protein increases after exercise. Therefore, consuming protein after activity may help preserve muscle. Exercise – especially resistance training – may also help us remain more functional as we age. 

Other benefits of increasing protein intake include decreased carbohydrate cravings – which may help with weight loss, and an improved gut microbiome – which increases immunity to disease.

Protein is an important component in maintaining muscle mass, remaining active, and preventing frailty as we age. Proteins are more available in animal products and can also be ingested as supplements.  Resistance training is also an important aspect of maintaining our muscle function as we age.  It’s never too early to start improving our diet and exercise habits to benefit our long-term health.

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Barbara Katz

About the Author:

Dr. Barbara L Katz is a physician, an Advanced Certified Weight Loss Coach and a Life Coach for women over 50. She is CEO of Dr Barbara L Katz, Coaching and specializes in helping women over 50 to lose their excess weight for the last time without dieting or excessive exercise. She, herself, lost over 40 pounds in her 60s with the help of coaching. In her free time, she participates in dog obedience, agility, and therapy dog visits to the local children’s hospital with her 2 pugs.

As a coach, she helps women visualize themselves as their future selves, comfortable and controlled around all foods. You can sign up for her weekly posts on her website, https://drbarbaralkatzcoaching.com. Every week in your inbox, you will receive information about how to lose weight successfully and permanently without dieting.