Protein plays a huge role in how our body functions. It does a lot of work at a cellular level and is required for the proper functioning of our tissues, oils, and glands. But the big questions people ask frequently are: “Am I getting enough? And what is enough?” Well, registered dietitians have learned that not only is protein important but our protein needs change as we age as well. So whether you are just trying to be healthy or consuming protein to get those gains at the gym, you will want to listen up.
So how much protein do you actually need, and does it change over time as you age?
The FDA’s recommended daily amount of protein is 0.8g/kg of body weight for those over the age of 18. It is just a standard measurement for anyone over the age of 18 and doesn’t break down age any further.
Your 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s:
The consensus is that not much needs to change with your protein intake until you are over 65 years of age unless you have a few different goals or life changes. For example, if you are trying to gain muscle mass you should up your daily protein intake from 0.8kg/g to somewhere between 1.4 and 2.0g/kg. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, then you should also increase your protein intake to about 1.0g/kg.
Your 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s+:
Once you hit 65 (and you can do this even sooner), the daily recommendation shifts to about 1.1g/kg and is due to older people typically not consuming as much protein. Tie this with the fact that as we age we also increase our chances of losing muscle, so we are kind of S.O.L. if we don’t do something about it. As we get older, we tend to move less but that is for another conversation. The important thing here is to keep up with our protein intake as we age and even increase it if we can.
So again, how much protein should I be consuming?
We get it, you weigh yourself in pounds and we have been using g/kg this whole time. Think about it this way, 0.8kg is about 0.36 pounds, so just multiply your body weight in pounds by 0.35 and there you have it! The number you get is how much protein you should be consuming if you are under the age of 65.
How to meet my daily intake of protein?
You might be surprised as to how easy it can be to get in enough protein, as a lot of foods have more protein in them than you might think. Plus, a lot of proteins come with extra benefits with nutrients too so it is a win-win.
- 1 large egg has approximately 6g
- 5oz of salmon has approximately 30g
- 1 serving of greek yogurt has around 17g
- 4oz of chicken has approximately 31g
- 1 protein smoothie can have 20g+
- 1 cup of lentils is approximately 18g
- 1/2 cup of cottage cheese is approximately 14g
Are you up for the challenge?