Health & Diet

To Stay Strong, Get Your Protein

By Lola Augustine Brown

We all lose muscle protein every day and older people lose it more quickly. Less muscle means less strength and eventually less mobility, which means a greater risk for falls and loss of independence. The solution? Make sure that you get enough protein at each meal three times a day. That’s according to study results from McGill University in Montreal recently published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Over the course of three years, researchers tracked the health and diets of more than 1,700 healthy adults aged between 67 and 84, testing their muscle strength and mobility. The participants who lost the least muscle mass were those who spread their protein intake through the day rather than trying to make one main meal do the job.

When you consider how athletes and body builders eat lots of protein to increase their muscle mass, the study results make perfect sense. How much should you be getting? The recommended amount for an adult, based on earlier research, is 1.2 grams of protein for every kilogram (2.2 pounds) of body weight, and given that older people lose muscle mass more quickly, that should be a minimum for them. For a man weighing 165, that would be 90 grams a day, or 30 grams—about an ounce—of protein at each of three meals.

Don’t worry—that doesn’t mean steak for breakfast or anything. A serving of protein could take the form of one egg, a tablespoon of peanut butter, a quarter-cup of cooked beans, or a half ounce of nuts or seeds.

Photo : iStock/a_namenko.