In the gym, you are likely to hear a lot of discussion about protein consumption. Protein plays an important role in the muscle building process. However, adequate protein consumption isn’t just for bodybuilders or athletes.
As the body ages, it begins to lose muscle mass, which can increase the risk of injury and disability. Nonetheless, the older muscle is still able to respond to amino acids, mainly the essential and BCAAs, which have been shown to acutely stimulate muscle protein synthesis.
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and there are about 20, divided between essential amino acids and non-essential ones. Essential means the body cannot make them and must obtain them from a food source. Your body can break down essential amino acids into non-essential ones.
There are two types of protein: animal and plant. Animal proteins are considered to be complete proteins; they contain all of the essential amino acids our bodies need. Apart from some exceptions such as quinoa or soybeans, vegetable sources of protein are more often lower in one or more essential amino acids than animal sources. Vegetarians must use “complementary” vegetable proteins together to make a single complete protein source. For example, they need to eat beans with rice, a rice cake with peanut butter, or hummus, which is made with chick peas and sesame paste.
Now, what does all that mean to you? You need to get an adequate amount of protein not only to build new muscle during you exercise program, but to preserve muscle mass as you get older.
Here are 10 terrific sources of lean protein:
· Whey Concentrate
· Lean beef (including tenderloin, sirloin, eye of round)
· Greek Yogurt
· Soy, Quinoa
· Legumes, chickpeas
· Nuts, Pumpkin seeds
How much protein do I need?
Maybe you’ve wondered how much protein you need each day. In general, it’s recommended that 10–35% of your daily calories come from protein. Below is the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) for different age groups.
Grams of protein needed each day
Children ages 1 – 3 13gm
Children ages 4 – 8 19gm
Children ages 9 – 13 34gm
Girls ages 14 – 18 46gm
Boys ages 14 – 18 52gm
Women ages 19 – 70+ 46gm
Men ages 19 – 70+ 56gm
Here are examples of amounts of protein in food:
•1 cup of milk has 8 grams of protein
•A 3-ounce piece of meat has about 21 grams of protein
•1 cup of dry beans has about 16 grams of protein
•An 8-ounce container of yogurt has about 11 grams of protein
Added together, just these four sources would meet the protein needs of an adult male (56 grams). This doesn’t count all the other foods that add smaller amounts of protein to his diet.
Rather than just focusing on your protein needs, choose an overall healthy eating plan that provides the protein you need as well as other nutrients.