Protein builds muscle, but it also helps regulate appetite and, according to research, plays a part in managing weight.
Around middle age, muscle mass begins to decline, and frailty (known as sarcopenia) may result. To combat it, consume sufficient protein for the growth, maintenance, and repair of cells. One-third of adults over 60 don’t get enough protein, according to some estimates. And those who exercise regularly need protein to maintain muscle mass and for post-workout repair and recovery.
If daily intake is too low, the body acquires amino acids (the building blocks of protein) from your muscles. Multiply your weight by 0.4 for an estimate of your daily protein requirement in grams. For athletes, a rule of thumb is about one gram of protein for every pound of body weight per day.
While getting protein via a balanced diet is recommended, some people don’t eat animal proteins; others want to avoid the saturated fat and cholesterol found in some protein sources; and still others like the convenience and concentration of protein powders, which are often fortified with additional nutrients.
Protein powders made from peas, hemp, and rice are available. Hemp protein powder, for example, is a plant source of complete protein, meaning it contains the right number and balance of essential amino acids. It also offers a healthy balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Or consider blends that combine ingredients such as brown rice protein, cranberry protein, and hemp protein.
Vegan protein bars are another great convenient way to get more protein into your life. For additional help finding protein, consider getting dishes delivered to your door with programs such as 22 Days Nutrition.
After you’ve selected the nutritional profile and ingredients you prefer, look for other signs of quality and purity. Then taste-test products to find your favorite. Some people mix their powder with water and drink as is; others add it to smoothies with yogurt or juice. Toss in bananas, berries, cinnamon, or other healthy treats.
“Dietary Protein Impact on Glycemic Control During Weight Loss” by D.K. Laymand and J.I. Baum, 4/04;
“Whey Protein but Not Soy Protein Supplementation Alters Body Weight and Composition in Free-Living Overweight and Obese Adults” by David J. Bauer et al., J Nutr, 6/11
“The Influence of 8 Weeks of Whey Protein and Leucine Supplementation on Physical and Cognitive Performance” by T.B. Walker et al., Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab, 10/10
“Pump Up Your Workouts with Vegan Protein Powder” by Keegan Baur, www.peta.org