Protein is a macronutrient your body needs to grow and repair cells, and to function properly. Protein is found throughout the body—in muscle, bone, skin, hair, and virtually every other body part or tissue. The building blocks of protein are amino acids. Protein is found in a wide range of food and it's important that you get enough protein in your diet every day.
Benefits of Protein:
Build Muscle: We need protein to build muscle. Our muscle mass declines as we age. Starting as early as your 30s (though it’s more common closer to your 50s or 60s), a gradual deterioration of muscle mass can begin. The average person can lose 3-8% of their muscle mass per decade after 30. That loss of strength is what can eventually weaken you, potentially impacting your mobility and your ability to do the things you love.
Weight Loss: Protein fills you up, if you find yourself with cravings after eating it's a sign you didn’t take in enough protein. Protein reduces levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin, resulting in fewer calories. A higher protein intake also boosts metabolism due to higher metabolic rate at which the body burns calories from protein. (20-30% more vs 5-10% for carbs)
Protein can help combat chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation can lead to or worsen serious conditions including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and asthma. But researchers found that increasing protein intake as you age can help combat chronic inflammation.
Improves functionality: Age-related mobility issues aren’t only about pure strength. Your functionality—like your grip strength or the pace of your gait, for instance—can protect you from falls, and allow you to keep doing the activity and exercises that maintain your strength. That frailty is more common in women, and unfortunately, it’s also a strong predictor of mortality—in a study among patients receiving acute care, the more frail were at a higher risk for readmission and mortality.
Improves bone strength: Bone strength is another factor in functionality. Like muscle mass, it can decrease with age. Luckily, researchers found that protein can help boost functional integrity along with strength, allowing you to stay healthy and active for longer.
Boost mood: Those amino acids building blocks of protein, are also building blocks for our neurotransmitters. Without enough protein to make sufficient neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, you may start to feel anxious or depressed or even be prone to cravings.
Protein is easy to add to your plate with every meal. Incorporate more whole proteins from meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and even legumes. Supplementing with protein powder is another easy way if you can’t get sufficient intake from food. Look to get anywhere from 0.7-1 gram of protein per pound of ideal body weight.