Are you getting enough protein?

One of the most frustrating things about getting older is how much harder it is to lose weight.

One of the main reasons for this? The loss of muscle mass.

Beginning at age 30 (yes, 30!), most of us lose about 1% of muscle each year, as the body starts tearing down old muscle at a faster rate than it builds new. This is due to a host of reasons: a dampened ability to utilize protein to support and synthesize muscle, changing hormones and, for many, reduced physical activity.

And since muscle keeps your metabolism humming, the less of it you have, the tougher it is to lose weight and the easier it is to pack ON pounds. Even when you’re eating the same way you always have.

Frustrating!

And it’s not just weight that gets the shaft. When you lose muscle, you lose strength. That means that lifting groceries out of the car, opening a jar of peanut butter or reaching for a pair of pants on a high shelf will be tougher and tougher as the days progress.

If left unchecked, this loss of muscle mass can lead to a whole host of issues later in life, including loss of bone density, increased risk of fractures, insulin resistance, disability and even an early death.

The magic formula

There is something amazing in your diet that may help you build muscle as you age. And according to a study published in the American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism, the current U.S. guidelines may not be high enough, particularly if you’re over 50.1

Researchers studied the effect on muscular health for 4 different eating plans with this hidden gem of a nutrient.

Group #1 ate according to the current guidelines, dividing the nutrient up equally among breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Group #2 ate according to current guidelines, eating the majority of the nutrient at dinner.

Group #3 ate double the current guidelines, dividing the nutrient up equally among breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Group #4 ate double the current guidelines, eating the majority of the nutrient at dinner.

Who had the most success at building muscle?

Groups #3 and #4.

So, what is this miracle nutrient that helped them build muscle?

Protein.

Yes, no matter what the timing of consumption, the more protein participants ate, the better their bodies were at building muscle.

Why is protein so paramount?

The amino acids in protein are the building blocks of muscle and work by stimulating muscle protein synthesis. And it didn’t take long to see the muscle-boosting effect. In the study, participants had higher rates of protein synthesis within just 4 days!

Real muscle building for grown ups

You might be wondering what the current RDA recommendation for protein is. You know, the guidelines you may want to double — especially if you are over 50.

The current recommendation is to consume about 10 grams of protein for every 25 pounds of body weight. That means if you weigh 150 pounds, you need at least 60 grams of protein.

This is what we currently recommend in our Fat Loss Fast Start program. We also recommend including at least 20 grams of protein at every meal. This will help you control your appetite until your next meal and ensure that you get enough total protein to protect your lean muscle mass while dieting.

However, this new study shows us that, if you’re over 50, your body is less efficient at synthesizing muscle protein. It also indicates that increasing your protein intake to double the RDA (about 19 to 20 grams of protein for every 25 pounds of body weight) helps counteract this age-related decline and triggers more protein synthesis in your muscles.

Yes, we may modify our recommendations based on this new research … stay tuned.

When choosing your protein, pick healthy sources. Low-fat dairy, fish, lean meats and vegetables — yes, vegetables — are all good sources of protein.

And when snacking, make it a point to reach for foods with protein — hard-boiled egg, low-fat cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, or hummus and vegetables — to boost your protein intake.

And, if I might add, a protein-rich shake made with our product, RealMeal GF, with 17 grams of protein per serving, is an ideal way to boost your daily protein intake. You can enjoy a shake with a meal or as a snack or even make a smoothie (you’ll find plenty of recipes in our RealSmoothies recipe book). It delivers 120 nutrient-dense, protein-packed calories to not only help boost muscle, but to control hunger and eliminate cravings.

Its key ingredient is one of the most bioavailable forms of whey protein you can find. An added bonus: RealMeal GF tastes delicious and takes less than a minute to prepare.

If you want to find out more about RealMeal GF, or try its muscle-boosting power, go here.

And here’s another important component: weight training. Try it 2 to 3 times a week and you’ll likely notice yourself craving protein naturally, as your body works to convert food into muscle.

Steve Sisskind, M.D.

Hi, I'm Dr. Steve Sisskind, Chief Medical Officer & Founder at RealDose Nutrition.

As a young physician, I struggled because my patients came to me with serious health issues, but I didn't have the right tools to help them. Medical school taught me how to put "band aids" on their symptoms with drugs and surgery, but not how to address the root causes of their problems.

Years later I discovered a better approach... based on the fundamental idea that the power of nutrition can transform your health and vitality. But there's a lot of confusion... What foods should I eat? Which supplements should I take? What does the science say?

I have dedicated my life to answering these questions... And I share this knowledge with you every day here at RealDose Nutrition.

I invite you to connect with me by joining my free private community. I've helped thousands of people and I know I can help you too!

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Reference

1. Kim IY, Schutzler S, Schrader A, et al. Quantity of dietary protein intake, but not pattern of intake, affects net protein balance primarily through differences in protein synthesis in older adults. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2015 Jan 1;308(1):E21-E28. PMID: 25352437.

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6 comments

  1. Can you get too much protein? I’m trying to eat about 100 grams a day and I weigh 136 lbs at 5 ft height.

    • Dr. Steve Sisskind

      Hi Donna,

      Thank you for writing in and for sharing your concerns with us! Yes, there is a possibility of getting too much protein in one’s diet. The Institute of Medicine recommends that healthy adults consume a daily protein intake of at least 0.36 grams per pound(0.8 grams per kilogram). For example, a 150-pound woman needs at least 54 grams of protein each day. Protein intake should be in the range of 10 to 35 percent of total calories. In your case, a 50 gram piece of meat should be enough to meet your daily requirements. However, if you have an active lifestyle or trying to lose weight, a consumption of up to 80 grams will help your body with repair and healing as well as support your weight loss efforts. Hope this helps! Make it a healthy day!

  2. Hi, I was wondering if you can suggest anything to improve my very slow lymphatic system. I have a problem in my legs with fluid, they are sore if knocked and swelling at knees and above ankles. Thanks, love to know if you could help

    • Dr. Steve Sisskind

      Hi Jude,

      Thank you for writing in and for sharing your concerns with us! If you have a problem with swelling in your lower limbs, I do suggest that you try and cut back on your salt or sodium intake. It would also be best if you steer clear of heavily processed foods and only have those which have undergone minimal change or are fresh. However and more importantly, I do strongly recommend that you speak with your personal doctor at the soonest time possible to get a full evaluation of your condition. By doing so, you will not only get a comprehensive treatment plan but also avoid the same from happening in the future. Hope this helps! Have a healthy day!

  3. I was recently in a discussion about protein and I was told by a nutritionist that too much protein can cause inflammation because of putting your body into a high acidic state. So what is too much protein and have you heard that argument as well?

    • Dr. Steve Sisskind

      Hi Nancy,

      Thank you for writing in and for sharing your thoughts with us! I agree, protein should be taken in moderation and according to what your body needs. A good rule of thumb would be an intake of at least 0.36 grams per pound(0.8 grams per kilogram). For example, a 150-pound woman needs at least 54 grams of protein each day. Protein intake should be in the range of 10 to 35 percent of total calories. Hope this helps! Have a healthy day!

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