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Protein Intake and Ageing

I know we like to harp on about protein here at Winkfit.

Although for good reason, and often times more than one!

In this short read, our focus is going to be on the importance of protein as we age.

If you are creeping up on the half century or already batting on for the full, this applies more to you.

Though this should be a keystone feature in almost everybody’s diets.

So why then is protein so important as we age?

Protein as a macronutrient is the sole proprietor of ‘repairing’ tissue in the body, thus making it a very important one to keep plentiful in the diet. Following on will highlight the role in which protein plays in this repairing of tissue and anabolic processes within the body.

A few processes also begin to slow down and become less receptive in regard to protein and more broadly skeletal muscle mass.

When you train, specifically resistance training (lifting weights), your anabolic response to this is a spike in muscle protein synthesis (MPS).

This will occur whether or not you are young or old, and like anything some who are blessed with good genetics will just have a better anabolic response than others.

However this response is reduced to a degree as we progressively begin to get older, no matter how well you once responded.

Where protein comes into this equation is as a ‘maximiser’ for the anabolic response. The greater our intake of protein (to a degree) the greater or more optimal our MPS response will be.

In theory then allowing for a greater ability to increase and / or maintain muscle mass.

And thus the cycle continues, the more muscle mass and protein, the better the anabolic response.

So it makes sense that as aging occurs and muscle mass begins to decrease along with that our anabolic response is buffered, that maintaining a protein rich diet (around 1.6g -1.8g per kilogram of bodyweight is likely optimal) will be a good step in the process.

Here we should quickly note the difference between something being adequate and optimal. Adequate for protein intake might sit around that .8-1g/kg mark. Now adequate will see you through daily life just fine, what it probably will not do is allow much MPS and lean muscle growth, and we know why that is so important. 

To benefit that of course resistance training will be of huge benefit and should be used together to help stay fit, mobile and healthy… and put AVEO out of business.

What about requirements for the other end of the spectrum and the developmental stages of youth?

This area is going to come with a little less number targets but more so food targets for children. This comes straight from the Australian food guidelines and is as follows; (protein rich food groups highlighted red) 

  • 2 to 3 years: 1 serve of fruit; 2½ serves of vegetables; 4 serves of grains; 1 serve of meat/poultry; 1½ serves of dairy
  • 4 to 8 years: 1½ serves of fruit; 4½ serves of vegetables; 4 serves of grains; 1 ½ serves of meat/poultry; 1½ to 2 serves of dairy
  • 9 to 11 years: 2 serves of fruit; 5 serves of vegetables; 4 to 5 serves of grains; 2½ serves of meat/poultry; 2½ to 3 serves of dairy
  • 12 to 13 years: 2 serves of fruit; 5 to 5 ½ serves of vegetables; 5 to 6 serves of grains; 2 ½ serves meat/poultry; 3 ½ serves dairy

This is all well and good but what are some actionable helpful tips to actually consume a little more protein?

Well these are probably the two easiest steps you can action in your next meal or snack after reading this.

  1. Protein shakes or protein fortified drinks. They very easy to consume, and you general get great bang for your buck with most containing between 20-30g of protein for a serving.
  2. Second and this being probably the most important to implement is protein at every meal. I don’t mean a 500g T-Bone either, I mean having some portion of a lean meat, protein rich yoghurt, legumes the list goes on for potential protein rich additions to the meal. If you can do this 3-4 times a day and you will probably be well on track to hit your targets.

Eating plenty of protein but don’t have anywhere to train?

Why not come and try us at Winkfit!

Krause Neto, W., Maifrino, L. B. M., & Gama, E. F. (2011). Resistance training and androgenic anabolic steroids on aged skeletal muscles: a review about methodological approaches. Journal of Morphological Science28(3), 1-7.  

Louis, J., Vercruyssen, F., Dupuy, O., & Bernard, T. (2019). Nutrition for master athletes: is there a need for specific recommendations?. Journal of aging and physical activity28(3), 489-498.  

Mitchell, C. J., D’Souza, R. F., Fanning, A. C., Poppitt, S. D., & Cameron-Smith, D. (2017). Muscle protein synthetic response to microparticulated whey protein in middle-aged men. Journal of Dairy Science100(6), 4230-4234.  

Atherton, P. J., Kumar, V., Selby, A. L., Rankin, D., Hildebrandt, W., Phillips, B. E., … & Smith, K. (2017). Enriching a protein drink with leucine augments muscle protein synthesis after resistance exercise in young and older men. Clinical nutrition36(3), 888-895.   Australia, H. (2020). Healthy eating for children.