We hate to break it to you, but as you age, so does your body. Like it or not, when you reach middle age, your muscle mass may begin to decline, and your performance at the gym may not be what it once was. But don’t despair (or stop working out!), because that doesn’t mean you should give up, it just means you may need to work a little harder and incorporate a little more protein into your diet.
The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein (or the basic amount needed) is only about 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. However, it has been shown that older adults require more protein per kilogram of body weight than younger adults. That’s where high-protein snacks come in. Snacking between meals is an important way to ensure you’re feeling satisfied and getting the essential nutrients your body needs. We spoke with Julie Upton, M.S., R.D., and member of our Medical Expert Board, who shared some great high-protein snack ideas that are perfect for people over 50 who are looking to build muscle.
It turns out an egg is all it’s cracked up to be, as it provides a lot of benefits.
“If you’re looking for a nutritional powerhouse, crack open an egg,” says Upton.
According to Upton, one large egg has 70 calories and provides more than 13 essential nutrients, including iron, vitamin D, zinc, lutein, zeaxanthin, and choline.
Eggs also pack in six grams of high-quality protein and antioxidants. “Eggs are great for adults because the protein provides all essential amino acids so that the body can utilize them more readily than other sources of protein,” says Upton.
These fresh, young soybeans are so delicious that you might find yourself eating an entire bowl in one sitting—and it’s OK if you do!
According to Upton, one cup of edamame contains about 190 calories and 18 grams of protein.
“It boasts a one-two punch of filling protein and fiber—not to mention a host of beneficial anti-cancer and cardiovascular benefits,” says Upton. “Look for edamame in the fresh produce or freezer section of your local supermarket. They are a great plant-based source of protein and nutrients for adults.”
“Plain, nonfat Greek yogurt is a healthy, must-have in your diet,” says Upton.
She also says that a cup of nonfat Greek yogurt packs in about 24 grams of protein. That’s the equivalent of four eggs!
“Milk is another nutrient-rich option for adults that provides 8 grams of high-quality protein per cup,” explains Upton. “What’s more, milk provides an ideal ratio of quick-release whey and slower-release casein protein.”
According to the Mayo Clinic, whey protein provides ample amounts of the essential amino acids that are needed to carry out the functions that proteins perform in the body. Casein protein, on the other hand, is very similar in providing the body with the necessary amino acids to help build muscle. However, casein protein digests slower than other proteins. Therefore, it may help reduce appetite and increase satiety.
“Numerous studies confirm that whey and casein can help adults build and retain muscle mass,” says Upton.