We’ve been telling you for years about the importance of a high-protein diet. It’s a great way to maintain your strength as you age and avoid the muscle loss that leads to frailty, falls, and impaired mobility.1
Now a new study reveals the best way to maximize the benefits. It turns out it’s not only the amount of protein you eat that matters. It’s when you eat it.
Researchers found that in older adults, consuming small amounts of protein throughout the day works better than eating all your daily protein in one or two sittings.
The study was conducted at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre. Researchers analyzed data on nearly 1,800 healthy seniors.
For three years, the scientists studied the subjects’ eating habits to establish links with variables such as strength, muscle mass, and mobility.
Dr. Stéphanie Chevalier is the lead author of the study.
“Many seniors, especially in North America, consume the majority of their daily protein intake at lunch and dinner,” she said. “We wanted to see if people who added protein sources to breakfast, and therefore had balanced protein intake through the three meals, had greater muscle strength.”
The answer is a resounding yes.
Dr. Samaneh Farsijani is another researcher on the project. “We observed that participants of both sexes who consumed protein in a balanced way during the day had more muscle strength,” she said.
Dr. Chevalier added: “Older people need to consume more protein per meal because they need a greater boost of amino acids for protein synthesis.”
The study was published recently in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Adults should get about a third of their calories from protein. If you typically eat 2,000 calories a day, for example, you should get about 150 grams of protein.
In addition to making sure each meal has a substantial dose of protein, make sure your snacks are protein-heavy.
10 Best Sources of Protein
Excellent sources of protein include:
- Organic turkey and chicken
- Grass-fed beef and pork
- Wild-caught fish and shellfish
- Raw nuts and seeds, including almonds, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and walnuts
- Pastured eggs
- Full-fat organic dairy
Surprising Heart Benefits of Protein Drinks
Whey protein drinks have long been used by bodybuilders to add muscle. More recently, they’ve become popular among seniors seeking a way to stay strong.
A surprising UK study found they bring other health benefits…they lower blood pressure and cut the risk of heart attack and stroke.2
Researchers at the University of Reading had 38 people with borderline high blood pressure drink two commercial powdered whey protein shakes per day for eight weeks. Each drink contained 56 grams of protein.3
The drinks contributed about 10% of the subjects’ recommended daily calorie intake. They removed an equal number of calories from their diets to prevent weight gain.
The protein drinks caused improvement in a wide range of heart health markers. Subjects’ blood pressure dropped by about 8%. Triglycerides were cut by 12%. LDL or “bad” cholesterol fell 5%. The flexibility of blood vessels improved.
There are many whey protein drinks on the market. But you should look for grass-fed varieties that are soy-free. One brand we recommend is ProMix.4
And instead of downing one big protein drink, make three smaller drinks and spread them throughout the day to get a bigger muscle boost.
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