Protein Power

Protein Power

Protein is part of every cell in your body and makes up about 15% of the average person's body weight1. The power of protein comes from the amount and type consumed in the diet. Not consuming enough protein has its consequences throughout the body1.

Protein and Aging

As your age goes up sometimes your appetite goes down, and as appetite decreases consumption of key nutrients, like protein, can decrease. Meeting basic protein needs is important throughout life. Higher protein intake has been associated with maintenance of lean muscle in older adults2. Losing muscles in legs and hips can lead to falls and injuries like broken hips. Those who do not maintain strong muscles as they age might also having trouble doing basic things like walking up stairs or taking walks in the park. Making sure meals and snacks contain a source of protein is especially important when you eat less.

Protein and Athletes

Some experts believe that protein intake recommendations increase with certain levels of physical activity. This is due to the body's increased demands for protein to maintain, repair and build muscles in response to training3, as well as the body using protein for an energy source when carbohydrates and fats supplies are limited. See below for some general recommendations based on type of physical activity4:

  Grams of protein per kilogram of body weight
Sedentary adult 0.8
Recreational exerciser 0.8 – 1.5
Competitive athlete 1.2 – 1.6
Adult building muscle mass 1.4 – 1.6

If You Are an Athlete, Boost Protein the Healthy Way

Here are some tips to help you increase your protein intake in a healthy way:

  • Replace refined carbohydrate snacks with a whole grain snack paired with another protein source like peanut butter, hummus or cheese.
  • Eat lean protein sources such as beans, nuts, seeds, low-fat and nonfat dairy products, fish, and lean poultry.
  • Replace fatty fried foods such as French fries with lean protein sources such as beans and rice.
  • Replace spreads such as mayonnaise and butter with protein-containing spreads like all-natural peanut and almond butters.
    • There are several ways to increase your soy protein intake:

      • Look for soy-containing snack foods and cereals.
      • Try soy milk with your morning whole grain cereal.
      • Make fruit smoothies with tofu and top with a soy-containing cereal.
      • Snack on soy nuts, which come in several varieties including honey roasted.
      1 http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/protein-full-story/index.html
      2 Paddon-Jones D, Rasmussen BB (2009) Dietary protein recommendations and the prevention of sarcopenia. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care 12:86-90.
      3 http://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/Fulltext/2009/03000/Nutrition_and_Athletic_Performance.27.aspx
      4 Clark, Nancy. Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook. 2nd Edition (1997). Human Kinetics, Champaign, IL. Phillips SM, Moore DR, Tang JE. A critical examination of dietary protein requirements, benefits, and excesses in athletes. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism 2007;17:S58-S76.

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