Muscles are built with amino acids from protein, but as people age and consume less protein this metabolic mechanism can become less efficient. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for healthy adults is currently 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight a day, or around 62 grams for a 170 pound person. A study published in the American Journal of Physiology – Endocrinology and Metabolism suggests older adults might need more to support muscle mass.
Researchers assigned 20 healthy men and women between the ages of 52 and 75 to consume the current RDA spread evenly across breakfast lunch and dinner or with the protein distribution weighted towards dinner, which is a more typical eating pattern. These programs continued for 4 days.
During this same period, other subjects consumed 1.5 grams of protein per kg of body weight evenly portioned between meals or weighted toward the evening meal. That’s 115.5 grams for the same 170 pound person. Although protein distribution didn’t have a major impact, the total amount of protein consumed did with the larger portion increasing whole body net protein balance along with muscle protein synthesis.
True Strength Moment: Because increased muscle mass can play a role in maintaining a greater level of fitness and healthier body weight, these protein suggestions might be a good fit for older active adults. Experiment with different portion sizes and timing strategies to find the right fit for your needs.