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Reviving Muscle Strength with Protein

While aging brings about muscle loss, preventing it from happening early is determined by the effort you put in keeping fit and healthy. Doing the right amount of physical activity and observing a diet that has a high amount of good quality protein is the best way to combat aging-related muscle loss.

Protein is the building block of muscle health, so it is best to get to know how it can help revive muscle strength.1

Where does protein come from?

Protein exists in your body and found in the food you eat. It is needed by the body to be broken down into amino acids that maintain skeletal muscle strength, bone health, and repair tissue. Protein does not just come from meat and eggs and in fact protein comes from 3 categories:2, 3

 Essential: These are proteins that the body cannot produce and must come from food. The most important protein for muscle building is leucine which comes from chicken, lean beef, pork chops, tuna, tofu, eggs, milk, and catfish. A metabolite of leucine is HMB (Beta-Hydroxy Beta-Methyl Butyrate), which increases the rate of protein usage. Since seniors need more protein than young adults, this helps maintain its usage.

 Nonessential: These are the ones seniors do not have to worry about getting. If you have a proper level of glucose, they will be produced in essential quantity. Nonetheless, they are also responsible for muscle growth and repair. Drink plenty of water and eat foods with Vitamin B6 such as fish, beef liver, choice of organ meats, potatoes, or fortified foods to aid in their production in time of need.

Conditional: These almost fall into the same category as the nonessentials, but only become essential when your body is in overdrive fighting an illness.  

The time you get your protein matters

As much as the quality and quantity of protein matters, when you get them in your daily diet is also essential. Daily protein quantity requirements for 50 and older is about 1.2 grams for each kilogram of weight. It is recommended to spread out that daily requirement across all meals in a day.

Seniors who even out their intake are more likely to preserve muscle strength as it stimulates muscle building  more. Also, if part of your protein intake will be in an after workout session, make sure it is a carbohydrates to protein ratio of three to one.4

What other nutrients are needed

It may seem contradictory that seniors have to consume more protein as they age, but reduce the amount of total calories per day due to slowed metabolism. The key phrase here is “nutrient dense”.

Eating food that contains Vitamin D, usually found in beef liver, egg yolk, mushrooms, and sardines, will help a senior maintain a calcium balance to help with their bone health. To inhibit muscle breakdown, make sure that an elderly person’s diet contains foods that have omega 3 fatty acids.1, 2