Protein is an essential to have throughout the day, but are there different daily protein requirements by age? Ironically, most American adults and teens eat too much protein, and the elderly do not eat enough. It's important to balance your intake and understand how much protein you really need depending on your age.
Why Is Protein Important?
Protein is a powerful tool that manages your hunger and weight. Of all the macronutrients, protein is the most filling, so it will help you feel full. It also boosts your metabolism and ensures you keep healthy muscle while losing fat. This is one of the primary reasons why high-protein diets have become so popular, and why protein is especially important for the elderly. Protein requirements for older adults are higher than others because they need the extra support to maintain muscle mass as their body starts giving out.
Protein Requirements By Age
The total amount of protein you need ranges depending on your age, and how active you are. Typically it's between 0.8 to 1.6 grams per kilogram body weight, or 0.4 to 0.7 grams per pound. If you’re trying to lose weight, you want to aim for slightly higher amounts of protein to help you reach your goal. In addition, there's an array of benefits of spreading your protein throughout the day. In order to really feel the fullness, it’s smart to take in about 25 to 30 grams of protein per meal. This means you should be eating more protein at breakfast and lunch and easing up at dinner. Then of course include 10 to 20 grams of protein with your snacks to remain satisfied.
Healthy Protein Picks
Now that you have an idea of your daily protein requirements, let's go through the best protein foods to have at each of these meals.
Breakfast: Overnight oats, low-fat or nonfat milk, eggs, low-fat Greek yogurt, apple, mango
Lunch: Whole-wheat toast, low-fat cheese, avocado, turkey burger, chickpeas, tempeh, quinoa
Dinner: Beans, chicken, steak, salmon, whole-wheat pasta, potatoes, asparagus, mushrooms, peppers
Snacks: Low-fat cottage cheese, mixed nuts, carrots, whole-wheat crackers, raspberries, low-fat mozzarella cheese stick, sesame seeds