The Importance of Protein and Muscles

Oops, you all caught me. I wasn’t able to get through my week of food logging due to having guests in town and  being overly busy. I love the holiday season and having visitors in town so I was busy enjoying their company and catching up. I will attempt to finish a week of food logging as soon as the craziness dies down. But until then I have some super interesting education on protein and aging to share with you guys. I am presenting on this topic for the women and men who live in the retirement community I work at so I thought I would share for you to enjoy as well!


Why is Protein Important? 

Protein is essential for maintaining skeletal muscle mass, optimal physical function, and overall health

  • Protein plays a major role in Muscle Preservation
  • Protein is a macro nutrient that is essential for muscle function
  • If protein intake is sub optimal, muscle mass can decrease and physical and function/health can decline

How Much Protein Do You Need? 

The Recommended Dietary Allowance for protein intake is currently .8 g/kg/day.

  • Individual protein needs are highly variable.
  • Depends on body size, health status, and activity.
  • Balance in the diet is also very important! – Although protein is very important, the other food groups are essential to help promote muscle health.Other macro nutrients, like carbohydrates and fat, help allow protein to do its job.

What About Protein Supplements?

  • These are not necessary. It is always best to get protein from food sources first. 
  • These are a good option if your appetite is poor or if you are having a hard time reaching your estimated protein needs daily with your current diet
  • They should not replace food or whole meals.

Registered Dietitian Recommendation: If I am having a busy day at work and I do not have time for a meal I sometimes consume Orgain Nutrition Shake

What Foods Contain Protein?

  • Lean animal proteins 
  • Eggs
  • Dairy – milk, yogurt, cottage cheese
  • Plant-based alternatives
  • Lentils
  • Nuts
  • Beans
  • Seeds

Examples of Amounts of Protein:

  • 3 ounce chicken breast = 28 grams protein
  • 1 egg = 6 grams protein
  • 3 ounce steak = 26 grams protein
  • 3 ounce tuna = 22 grams protein
  • 3 ounce salmon = 22 grams protein
  • 1/2 cup pinto beans = 11 grams protein
  • 1/2 cups lentils = 9 grams protein
  • 1/2 cup chickpeas = 7 grams protein
  • 1/2 cup quinoa = 4 grams protein

Easy Ways to Incorporate Protein: 

  1. Put nuts on top of your oatmeal or cereal. You can even stir in peanut butter into your oatmeal.
  2. Have cottage cheese with fruit for a snack
  3. Greek yogurt in smoothies or with fruit and nuts
  4. Drink skim milk with meals
  5. Hummus with veggies

  6. Try whole grain salads, such as Quinoa or Barley

  7. Put beans, nuts, tuna, and/or hard boiled egg on salads

  8. Choose lean proteins to accompany your meals

  9. Peanut butter or cheese with crackers

  10. Try apple slices with PB

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