Protein – How much do you REALLY need?

I was in the market the other day and happened to walk down the “nutrition” aisle.  I was amazed by the sheer number of choices for Protein Powder.  Then, there were those fabulous candy-bar like protein bars….some have more than 12 grams of sugar!!!  Since when did that get healthy??!  Nonetheless, we are being bombarded by Protein and how important it is to get enough into our daily diets.

I think we have all heard the mantra about eating enough protein.  As we age we all lose muscle mass and we need to replenish our bodies.  The Feds, of course, have some recommendations for those of us that are over 50.  The minimum RDA for the 50 – 75 age group is 0.8mg per kilogram of body weight – for those who, like me, are metric system challenged it is 2.2 pounds per kilogram or you can simply pull out your trusty calculator and multiply your weight by .36.

     With these calculations, we can surmise that the 130-pound woman will need about 47g of protein and the 170 pounder will need about 62g.  The important thing to remember is that this is the minimum daily requirement.  This amount of protein is what you need just to get through your day.  Working out on a regular basis?  You are going to need to up the amount of protein that you consume.

     A recent study in the American Journal of Physiology recommends that the active older person needs almost twice as much protein each day – 1.5g / kg!  That amounts to 70 grams for the 130 pound lady and 81 grams if you weigh 150 pounds.

     So, where do we get all of this protein.  It still comes from the usual suspects – lean red meat, fish, lean poultry, eggs and legumes.  Protein Shakes are a great pick me up source but be careful of the high sugar content found in many drinks.  I am a great fan of Premier Protein – 30g of protein with only 1g of sugar and 160 calories.  It comes in 3 flavors and – drumroll – it is available at Costco!

     A combination of a healthy balanced diet that includes the right amount of protein and an active lifestyle that includes regular cardio and strength training will help counter that inevitable loss of muscle mass.  Remember to check with your physician before starting any weight control and fitness programs.

     What are your favorite protein sources?  How do you decide how much protein you need?  What does your doctor say about protein consumption?

xoxo, Rosanna
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