Now that you’re older, you may think your muscles are not that important any longer, but maintaining muscle mass is essential for healthy aging. You see, our muscles keep us strong and help reduce the risk of falls and injury – particularly dangerous in old age.
With age-related muscle loss, skin can appear loose and soft, signifying the depleted energy and vitality. Which means, putting extra effort in keeping your muscles toned and strong should be part of your healthy aging plan.
Eating protein is the key to building and maintaining muscle, and the best way to do that is through a balanced diet. But before you stock up your diet with protein-rich foods, you should know that it’s not just about quantity, but timing, too.
The average 50-year-old male takes in 90 grams of protein, which is a sufficient amount for promoting muscle synthesis. The problem is, the bulk of this protein is being consumed at dinner time – in fact, the average American has 42 percent of his daily protein at dinner and only 16 percent at breakfast. Unfortunately, this is not beneficial for muscle synthesis.
For younger males, protein synthesis peaks at 20 grams of protein. As we age, we need more protein to hit that peak – about 30 grams, the average amount of protein found in a piece of chicken or six ounces of tofu.
By holding off until dinnertime to eat our protein, we are wasting a whole day for muscle synthesis to occur. It follows then that the main trick in building and maintaining muscle is not necessarily about amping up your protein intake, but rather spacing it out throughout the day.
An easy way to increase your protein intake at breakfast is by incorporating a protein powder shake, which won’t add too many unwanted calories to your diet. Whey protein can easily be added to a morning smoothie to kick-start your day and promote muscle synthesis. It can also be added to peanut butter or almond butter, even yogurt for easy consumption.
You will want to add more protein into your lunch meal as well. Examples of protein-rich foods are meat, Greek yogurt, nuts, chia seeds, tofu, cottage cheese, and eggs.
By spreading your protein intake throughout the day, you can achieve strong muscles and optimize protein synthesis in order to better protect yourself against age-related muscle loss.