Protein intake is important for all active people and even more so for older adults. Anabolic resistance of aging muscle means a higher intake of dietary protein is needed to build, maintain, and repair muscle.
There is much interest in protein intake in older adults, and when layered with exercise, protein needs seem to be higher because of the anabolic resistance of older muscle. Older adults need a higher protein-per-meal dose to achieve maximal muscle protein synthesis and, currently, the best advice is to aim for about 30 g/protein spread throughout the day in 3 meals
There is no one best health and fitness plan for older adults. When thinking about nutrition advice for older, active adults, four guiding principles are suggested:
- Include all energy-containing nutrients (carbohydrate, protein, and fat)
- Focus on nutrient-rich foods
- Consider disease risk
- Enjoy eating and mealtime
Although highly variable, both muscle mass and strength decline with age. Small declines are seen between 30 and 50 years, with more steep declines occurring after 50 years. it seems there is a slower muscle recovery rate from hard exercise compared with younger athletes who are similarly trained. This phenomenon has been called “age-related anabolic resistance,” thought to be caused by less sensitive signaling pathways leading to slower rates of muscle protein synthesis. Nutrition strategies may be the answer to offset these changes.