Protein Power: A nutrient with a starring role
Protein is one powerful nutrient. It’s part of every living cell, and it plays a major role in your body, especially with your muscles and strength. Getting enough protein is important anytime but most especially as we age.
The proteins in our bodies are constantly being broken down and replaced. The body does not store amino acids—the building blocks that make up protein—as it does carbohydrates and fats, so the body needs a daily supply of protein-rich foods to make new proteins.
Without enough protein, you may experience loss of muscle mass that can cause physical weakness, fatigue and tiredness, and a weakened immune system.
How much protein do you need?
The current recommended daily allowance for adult women is 46 grams of protein each day and 56 grams for adult men (0.8 grams per kilogram that you weigh per day). However, these recommendations were made based on research in young adults. Those protein amounts may not promote optimal health or protect you from the loss of muscle mass and strength that comes with aging. Experts now feel that 25 to 30 grams of high-quality protein per meal (based on three meals a day) is particularly beneficial for older adults.
Who needs even more?
Athletes and fitness buffs understand their bodies’ need for protein as fuel for building and repair. The same applies to anyone recovering from a recent hospitalization, illness, or injury. Make sure to add extra protein, above the minimum recommendation, to serve as fuel in your recovery.
If you’re in treatment for cancer, your body needs even more fuel to stay strong. In fact, treatment may be better tolerated when you improve your nutritional intake. Nutrient-rich drinks with protein and calories can help your strength during treatment. Plus, they may even be easier to tolerate if you’re experiencing any side effects of your treatment.
Good sources of protein include meats, poultry, and fish, milk and dairy products, eggs, tofu, nuts, legumes (dry beans and peas), and nutritional supplements.
||1 cup (8 fluid ounces)
|Ensure Nutrition Shake
||Two 8-ounce bottles
||Two 8-ounce bottles
Source: United States Department of Agriculture website usda.gov