Protein: How Much Do You Need?

January 23, 2019

Time to try this delicious meal

What better time than the start of a new year than to think about health and well- being – and some new tips to help us get to our best! This month, we are inspired by a recent article published by NPR on protein and its impact on us.

When it comes to protein, you might think it’s a nutritional source gained only from eating meat or dairy products. However, it comes in many other forms, including vegan friendly options such as fruit, beans, vegetables, and grains. In addition to these whole foods, protein comes in the form of powders, pills, and bars. But how much do we really need each day—and are these extra forms a necessary investment for our health? The answer depends on different factors.

Protein keeps us healthy by building our nails, hair, bones, and muscles. It can also help us feel fuller compared to eating other foods that are not high in protein value.

The average adult needs between 50-60 grams of protein each day. If you are recovering from an injury or over 60, more than this recommended value can be beneficial. It is important to note that dehydration is a risk when consuming or adding more protein to your diet, so make sure to drink about 60 to 70 ounces of fluids a day.

It’s easier to eat protein than you might think. Angela Pipitone, a dietitian with Johns Hopkins McKusick- Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine, uses everyday meals as an example. She says there are 22 grams of protein for breakfast in two eggs topped with a little bit of cheese plus an orange. A balanced lunch of chicken, rice, and broccoli will meet the recommended 50 grams, proving that the daily protein value can be achieved even before dinnertime.

Around age 60, “muscles really start to break down, and because of that, in addition to the fact that as we get older our body’s ability to break down protein is reduced, the protein needs of an older adult actually increases,” says Kathryn Starr, an aging researcher at Duke University School of Medicine. In a recent study conducted by Starr, adding extra protein to the diet of obese older individuals

who were trying to lose weight strengthened their muscles. One group consumed 90 grams of protein a day, while the control group ate a low-calorie diet with about 50 to 60 grams of protein a day. She concluded that participants

in the higher protein group were able to walk faster, had improved balance, and were also able to get up out of a chair faster than the control group.

70-year-old Corliss Keith, who was in the high protein group in Starr’s study, says she feels a big difference. “I feel excellent,” she says. “I feel like I have a different body, I have more energy, I’m stronger.” She adds that she can take Zumba exercise classes three times a week, work out on the treadmill, and take long, brisk walks.

With this health information in mind, now is the perfect time to set some goals to start your new year off right!

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