No matter age lifestyle or activity, protein is critical to our health. I believe protein is the most important of the three macronutrients (fats, carbohydrates)that the body requires to function properly. We must have it in our diet as our bodies do not make all proteins required. Vitamins are nutrients also needed but not made in our bodies.
Proteins are large molecules made up of amino acids – 9 of which are body cannot manufacture. They are lysine, histidine, threonine, methionine, valine, isoleucine, leucine, phenylalanine, and tryptophan.When you hear high protein diet you think meat, eggs and diary, but plant based protein sources are superb and include beans, nuts, soy, peas lentils and more. Excellent studies have shown those using plant based protein do live longer! You can now find meatless meats, meatless fish etc are plant based and rather tasty, even national fast food chains offer ‘Impossible Burgers’ or “Beyond Meat’ options. A plant based chicken meal is being tasted national chains presently.
So how much do you need? Yes age dictates we need more since it is not all absorbed as our gut ages. The Institute of Medicine’s recommended daily allowance (RDA) of protein is 0.8 g for every kg of body weight, regardless of age.Please always regard the RDA as a minimum, not the ideal intake amount.
If you are a healthy 65 or older increase to 1.0-1.2 mg/kg. of protein daily.
Interesting to note that seniors on high protein diet lost more weight than those on any other diets.This study has not been disproved despite being 20 years old.
Athletic types to increase muscle mass should have minimum intake of 1.2-1.7mg/kg of protein daily. The suggestion by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) is that it be met by diet not supplements.
Remember whole foods are always better than supplements that are of isolated nutrients as it is the balance of the ingredient within a food that enriches the value of the nutrient you are attempting to increase in your diet.