Protein Needs As We Grow Older

 In Health, pensioners

I have got used to my aching legs. I blame, variously, old age, too much running or even kneeling to do gardening. However, I am not averse to some googling and very quickly up popped various helpful supplements. These are a waste of money so I narrowed it down to possible shortfalls in my diet. Oddly enough, recent studies on protein needs as we grow older touches on this. While it appears that a daily 45g for a woman and 54g for a man was sufficient, that has now been reviewed. Older people don’t process protein too well so need more than this. In addition, because older people experience muscle wastage, called sarcopenia, they need more protein. Finally, if you exercise then you need even more.

You are what you eat

Consequently, I studied our diet to see how much protein we really consume on a daily basis. Breakfast proved to be about 26g, lunch about 23g and dinner about 17g. That total of 66g would appear sufficient. However, that is based on the old recommendations. The new suggestion is that we need 1.2 – 1.5 per kilo body weight. That is 79 – 99g for me and 72 – 90g for Ann. Finally, that this needs to be first class protein. I had forgotten this difference and realised that much of our protein is not first class. Close on 50% of our diet is wholemeal toast, porridge, potato and other vegetables. In fairness, some dieticians will accept that oats is very close to first class. Consequently, I realised that increasing our protein needs as we grow older is complex.

Finding first class protein

Firstly, it made sense to consider whey protein, a powder all the weightlifters us. That was soon discounted because so many of these expensive products contain unpleasant additives. Secondly, how about protein bars? That threw up a similar issue. Not wanting to eat more meat, I then identified the best foods for first class protein and that soon came down to yogurt and cottage cheese. Consequently, Aldi provided us with 500g of Greek yogurt and 2 x 300g of natural cottage cheese. They will give us 22g protein in yogurt and 72g in cottage cheese, over a full week. That puts me up to 82g and Ann to 69g each day. That is still on the low side but we will see how we manage this extra food in our diet.


Firstly, this cottage cheese and yogurt has a sting in the tail, an increase of 934 calories a week. Secondly, it highlights the problem of balancing the diet. It’s one thing to eat a variety of foods to obtain the nutrient but another to avoid putting on weight. Once, when younger, we could simply raise the exercise level. Now, much older and with aching legs, that is ever more difficult.

Protein needs as we grow older

You don’t need to be Einstein to see another issue here, that we are eating a very animal based diet. This includes meat, milk, butter, eggs and cheese and now all this yogurt and cottage cheese. It conflicts with advice to reduce these foods. However, how on earth do vegetarians and vegans get near these daily amounts of protein when they don’t eat animal products? I cannot answer that. However, I might follow this post up to record how we get on with this diet. Will it ease my aching legs? Will it build a little extra muscle? If so, will I suffer with all that gunge blocking my arteries? Perhaps I will thrash everybody in the parkrun.

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