Proteins and Strength Training in old age?

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After 30, we start losing muscle mass. This loss is at the rate of 3 to 8% per decade. After 60, the rate of reduction in muscle mass increases further.

It results in loss of strength and various body functions, leading to disabilities in elders. Another reason for Sarcopenia is inactivity and a sedentary lifestyle increasing the risks of falls and injury and consequently dependence on others.

This regular decrease in muscle mass also gives way to a simultaneous increase in fat mass and weight gain. Body composition starts changing, giving way to various chronic diseases. This leads to decrease in activity level, bone density, and increased joint stiffness and conditions like Type 2 Diabetes, Obesity, Heart Disease, and Osteoporosis. 

As we grow older, our metabolism slows down for various reasons like less calorie intake and proteins, sedentary lifestyle and less quality sleep. Increased sugar intake and no exercise also causes the same. Slower metabolism again leads to accumulation of fat and increased weight, aggravating old age problems.

Along with old age and a sedentary lifestyle, the third most important reason of slow metabolism is our nutrition. Our overall diet and the amounts of protein that we consume keep decreasing as we grow in age. With decreased food intake, protein consumption also decreases. All these factors combined have a significant effect on our muscle mass. 

Elderly Mother Refuses to Eat

In such cases, you just cannot force-feed them. It will lead to further complications like diarrhoea or constipation, or various such issues. It can even result in vomiting and nausea or weaken the immune system or bacterial infections.

If with an increase in age, the elders have decreased their calorie intake, it results in loss of body fat, weight loss and loss of muscle. If they have decreased their food intake, it just cannot increase forcefully like we do when young. There are various reasons for elders to reduce food intake.

This can be due to changes to the digestive system, hormonal changes, disease, pain, changes to the sense of smell, taste and vision and a decreased need for energy. It could also be due to emotional changes, like depression or a loss of a close relative. Changes in the digestive system can contribute to declining appetite. 

But fortunately, Resistance exercise and Endurance training are very effective in reversing the effects of Sarcopenia in adults and improving their health. Regular resistance & endurance training is a must to prevent loss of muscle. The health benefits of both cannot be undermined. These result in increased energy levels, and there are various other health & wellness benefits as well.

To correct the whole nutritional status, we have to shift to a high-protein diet. A healthy diet is a must for various sources of protein. In fact, recent studies suggest that older individuals' protein requirement is more than youngesters. 

Proteins and Strength Training

We contacted several seniors to understand their viewpoints on their health & fitness and they raised many questions on this topic. We answer here some of the common queries

Best diet for men over 50

High protein foods for the elderly are a must. The daily protein requirement for adults should include 1 to 1.3 gm protein per kilogram of body weight against youngsters' requirement of 0.8 gm. Similarly, the best diet for over 50 females should also be balanced with high-quality protein intake. 

What is the best diet for seniors to lose weight

A high protein, low-calorie diet is best for seniors to lose weight. They should have a calorie deficit but with an increase in protein consumption. The best nutritional supplements for the elderly will be those with low calories and high proteins. It will obviously mean a diet with less fat and lesser carbs. So reducing mainly processed carbohydrates and substituting them for lean meat like fish, chicken, egg, and yoghurt will be beneficial in the long run. 

During old age, craving for sugary products also increases. Due to its satiating properties consuming extra protein is more beneficial in curbs on hunger and cravings for sugary foods. 

What is the healthiest diet for seniors?

The healthiest diet is the Mediterranean diet, which consists more of fruits & vegetables with moderate proteins and more fish but less red meat. They have various such unique combinations in their diet. Their diet generally has fewer proteins, so elders will need to increase proteins in it. So the best diet for men over 50 is the one with an optimum level of Macro & micronutrients, keeping the calories in check.

What foods should you avoid after 50

By this age, our metabolism starts decreasing. So processed food and drinks must be decreased. Foods like cookies, chips, candies, etc., should be minimized. It will be even better to absolutely stop consuming these foods. These foods directly affect our heart and blood pressure, and eliminating them is a step in the right direction. 

What is the best protein drink for the elderly

A high protein food is essential for them to at least maintain muscle mass if not grow it. A smoothie made with whey protein or casein is a perfect example of Nutritional drinks for seniors. Other drinks like Ensure or Boost have various other nutrients, but their protein content is only 8 to 12 per cent. You can add various fruits like berries to have some variety. These also provide natural sugar.

What is a good breakfast for seniors

Keeping the protein needs of seniors in mind, they should have healthy tailor-made options for breakfast. Actually, a good breakfast with a heavy dose of proteins is vital, especially if they do their workout in the morning. It helps in repairing and rejuvenating the muscles and also keeps them satiated till lunchtime. So it can be eggs in any form, oatmeal with nuts, and multi-grain bread with peanut butter. You can have a fruit smoothie as well with a scoop of whey added to it. For a change, on some days you can have a banana or homemade potato wedges too.

What are good snacks for the elderly

Whichever snacks are low in sugar and saturated fats are good nutrition for the elderly. So having potato chips is out of the question. The best alternative is having fresh fruits, dry fruits, boiled vegetables, chicken or turkey slices, eggs, etc. 

Are bananas good for seniors

Bananas are generally good food for the elderly. For seniors, they can act as mood boosters besides giving energy. They relieve anxiety and depression, too, two of the main problems seniors face frequently.

What is the best diet for a 65-year-old woman

Eat a wide variety of foods from the five food groups:

  • Plenty of colourful vegetables, legumes,/beans. 
  • Fruits of all seasons and varieties
  • Grain (cereal) foods, mostly wholegrain and high fibre varieties
  • Lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts, and seeds
  • Milk, yoghurt, cheese or their alternatives, mainly reduced fat

These can all be very healthy snacks for the elderly as well

What are the 3 foods to never eat

Avoid sweetened beverages, added sugar, and saturated fat. 

How do Seniors maintain muscle Mass?

How much protein per day for seniors

The normal daily protein intake recommended for seniors is 1 gram per kg of body weight. So a elder whose weight is 65 kg should have 65 gm protein every day. This should also be spread over all the meals and snacks to avoid one heavy dose. The amount of protein consumption should also increase progressivly with age i.e. from 1 to 1.5. To maintain a healthy weight and bone health, it is essential to progressively increase protein intake as we grow old.

How can an older woman lose belly fat

Fighting belly fat is a lifelong battle for some. With problems like poor digestion, depression, low metabolism, less appetite, and decreased muscle strength, matters worsen. The biggest and the boldest arsenal you can have against it is only calorie deficit and regular exercise at whatever age. In old age, the battle becomes even fierce, or most just give up against it. You will have to increase your protein, decrease sugar and saturated fats. The food should have more fruits, vegetables and various grains.

How much protein does a 60-year-old woman need

A 60-year-old woman needs to have 1 to 1.3 gm protein for every kg body weight and do her strength training exercises regularly.

Along with diet, strength & endurance exercise are equally important. On the one hand, we have a fit 80-year-old woman weight lifter who is still breaking records; Ernestine Shepherd won her first weight lifting medal at the age of 71. She started weightlifting when she was 56. On the other, we have women much younger who just give up. Where is the need to give up and suffer old age?

How can I boost my metabolism after 50

Stop muscle loss through resistance training. Increasing muscle mass at any age can boost metabolism as more muscle mass burns more calories. So strength training to increase muscle mass is helpful. You can also increase metabolism by doing cardio regularly, like walking, running, cycling. Increasing water intake too, helps in boosting it. There are various poses of Yoga that help as well. These are Surya Namaskar, Locust Pose, Boat Pose, Bow Pose, Shoulder stand, Bridge Pose.