Why women over 40 need MORE protein and how much.
Healthy skin, healthy hair, strong bones, kick butt immune system, beautiful lean muscle…
Be strong and not frail when you’re older…
What helps us do all of this?
It’s estimated that over 40% of women are not getting even the minimal recommended amount of protein to prevent health problems.
But now we’re learning that we need even more as we get older if we want to thrive instead of just survive.
We can’t stop time but we can stop muscle loss.
Weakness is a predictor for falls when we’re older.
If you are weak, there’s going to be a loss of independence because you have to be careful about how you move around.
And improved muscular strength has been shown to increase bone density.
A deficiency in dietary protein can impair immune function and that makes it harder for the body to fight off infectious disease.
The building blocks of protein are called amino acids and amino acids have a role in regulating components of our innate immune system.
Dietary protein is said to be muscle sparing when you’re dieting.
What that means is that when you are in a calorie deficit, if you aren’t taking in enough protein, your body will use the protein that you have stored on your body, which is your muscle.
Protein is also needed to recover from your workouts.
And since protein is used to repair tissue, it’s also going to help your skin adapt as you lose weight.
It’s important to understand why you need protein because sometimes it’s tough to get it in.
And there are people who question whether or not they need it.
But then they have other issues (not recovering, always hungry, workout injuries) that keep popping up and they don’t understand the connection between what they are eating and those issues.
Increased protein combined with lifting is an excellent way to maintain a strong body at any age.
But it appears that older muscle is not as sensitive to protein.
So you need to take in more to get the same effect as you did when you were 20.
The parts of our body that use protein are the lean body parts.
Make this calculation a little more precise – start by finding your body fat percentage and then use the weight of your lean body mass.
Here’s an example, let’s look at a woman who is 60 years old and lifts.
Because she’s 60, she is going to be in danger of losing a little bit of muscle mass if she doesn’t do something about it.
Scale weight is 170 pounds and she had her body fat calculated to be 30%.
If you have 30% body fat, that means 70% of your scale weight is lean body mass.
To calculate the weight of her lean body mass, multiply her scale weight times her lean mass percentage…
170 x 0.7 = 119 pounds.
So the lower end of a protein recommendation would be 1 gram of protein per pound of lean mass.
That would be 119 grams of protein for this person.
The upper end would be 1.3 grams for each pound, so
119 x 1.3 = 155
So she should try to get 119 to 155 grams of protein each day.
So after you do these calculations for yourself and you get your target protein range, it may seem like a lot if you haven’t been taking in that much protein already.
The general practice is that people will divide this up over the course of all the meals for that given day.
Timing isn’t too critical, but studies have shown that there’s a couple times during the day when taking in protein is a really good idea.
One of those is the first meal of the day because that seems to help control appetite throughout the day.
The second time during your day when you want to make sure you get some protein is after your workout. Doesn’t need to be immediate, but it needs to be within two or three hours. After you lift, your body is looking for that protein. It is primed to do protein synthesis and it is ready to start recovering from that workout.
Speaking of lifting, if you’re a new lifter, check out this playlist I made for you…
Know you need to change, but aren't sure where to start? I created this free training to answer the most common questions women have asked me over the years.
- What to eat?
- Why lift?
- How to stick with it?
- How to get started?
Hi! I'm Tammy! I was a busy, stressed, and unhealthy teacher until I decided to take control of my health. I did not become an athlete until I was in my 50's!
I earned personal training and fitness nutrition certifications, then retired from teaching to dedicate my work life to fitness education for other busy women over 40.
My results are obviously not typical because most people don't train to compete as a bodybuilder.
But I believe everyone can make positive changes with healthy habits! Each of us has a unique combination of strengths and challenges that need to be considered to customize a program that will work for us. Science-based principles, flexibility, and consistency make all the difference.