Protein and Muscle Mass as You Age – Zenwise Protein and Muscle Mass as You Age – Zenwise
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Protein and Muscle Mass as You Age

Not to bum you out, but did you know your muscle mass peaks in your 30s? Muscle loss, also called sarcopenia, affects more than 45% of older Americans, especially women.

"As a country, we are under-muscled, and it’s a key culprit of physical decline," explains Richard Joseph, a wellness-focused physician, in an NPR interview.

But don’t reach for that walker just yet. Experts say you can take steps to maximize your strength no matter your age.

Many of us have already gotten the strength-training-is-important memo and are getting after it at the gym. That’s great, but we might be missing half of the equation if we don’t consume enough protein.


Why is protein essential?

Protein is in all our cells -- including muscle cells -- and our bodies constantly recycle it. That means there’s a nonstop demand for new supplies. Protein-rich foods provide the amino acids that form the building blocks of the new proteins our bodies require.

Rachele Pojednic, a researcher at Stanford Lifestyle Medicine, breaks down this process.

“As we age, the goal is to consume protein from food at a faster rate than our body is breaking it down,” Pojednic says. “When you add in resistance training, this will help maintain muscle mass.”

But here’s the rub: age and exercise can both impact how much protein you need.


So … how much is enough protein?

The recommended amount of protein is a minimum of 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight, which is about 0.36 grams multiplied by your weight in pounds. That means a person who weighs 150 pounds should consume at least 54 grams of protein a day.

However, many experts say that’s not enough. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, super-active people should aim for 1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. That’s about 115 grams of daily protein for a 150-pound person.

A study found that 30% of men in their 50s and 60s fall short on the protein scale, and a whopping 50% of women aged 50 and older don’t meet their protein needs. For more info about protein, head to Protein Talk: Are You Getting Enough? Here’s What You Need to Know.


Powering up with protein

Maybe you’re like us, and you’d like to eat less meat and opt for a more plant-based diet for health and environmental reasons.

There are many ways to amp up your protein intake without eating meat at every meal. Our favorites include Greek yogurt, whey protein powder, fish, eggs, legumes, and high-protein grains like quinoa.

Sometimes, protein can be tough for your body to break down. Fortunately, there are ways to enhance protein absorption. Digestive enzymes and probiotics both have potential benefits in this regard. According to a study featured in NutraIngredients-USA, combining probiotics and enzymes may aid in the absorption of plant-based proteins, offering a solution for vegetarians and vegans who struggle to meet their protein needs.


Are you looking for the right digestive product for your lifestyle? Read How to Choose the Right Gut Health Supplements for all the details. Or contact our customer service team for personalized recommendations. We’re available to answer your questions seven days a week at or M-F from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at (800) 940-1972.

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