The importance of protein for older men.

The importance of protein for older men.

Research suggests that as we age protein intake becomes even more important and especially so for men, for many interesting reasons.

Plant-based proteins are inferior to animals based ones

Many studies have proven the superiority of animal proteins over plant based and for building and maintaining muscle mass in older men...beef is king! 

Lean beef is particularly interesting for older adults.

Some (deep) detail...

A lean 3 ounce serving of beef, 6 cups of cooked brown rice, and 1 scoop of whey-protein all contribute about 2.15 g of leucine, whereas a 1/2 cup of almonds or soybeans has about 0.4 g of leucine. A 3-ounce portion of lean meat also provides about 10% of recommended daily calories, 37% of vitamin B12, 33% of zinc, 25% of niacin, plus over 10% of recommended iron, riboflavin, and other nutrients. Beef is, therefore, an example of a nutrient-rich food, important for those limiting or limited in their daily consumption of total calories. Iron, although not a nutrient of value for older adults, is instead very important as a nutrient of interest (shortfall nutrient) for premenopausal females, children, and during pregnancy. Meat foods provide heme iron, which is more bioavailable than non heme plant-based iron. There is a high prevalence of vitamin B12 deficiency among older adults. A deficiency may be associated with confusion and other conditions that hurt quality of life (Stover, 2010).

How much protein is enough?

We're told that we should eat 0.6g of protein for each kg of lean body mass but these studies suggest this is way too low to maintain muscle mass in later life and that we should be aiming for 1.6g of protein per Kg meaning a 100kg man should be aiming to consume up to 200g of protein per day. That's not protein containing foods but actual protein. This means that active people looking to maintain their health and muscle mass in later life would probably have to rethink their diet considerably.

An interesting study...

Japan Study - led by Megumi Tsubota-Utsugi, from the National Institute of Health and Nutrition in Tokyo

More than 1000 older male adults suggested that those who ate the most meat and fish reduced their odds of mental and physical decline by 39 percent, compared with men who ate the least animal protein.

But a caveat...

The study doesn't actually prove that eating meat and fish caused the men's health improvements, or that low animal protein intake contributes to early decline, however.

"It is an observational study that simply shows a relationship between protein and functional decline. It does not prove cause and effect," said Lona Sandon, an assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.

"Also, the study was conducted in Japanese men and women, not people living in the U.S.," she added. Because it is such a specific study population, the results may not apply to people elsewhere, Sandon pointed out.

Still, research indicates adequate protein intake is important as people age, Sandon noted. The ability to process protein may decline in old age. As a result, protein requirements may increase, the study suggested.

"High-quality protein can help preserve lean muscle that is lost with ageing and can affect daily functioning," Sandon said. And higher-quality proteins found in animal sources are more easily used by the body than plant sources.

The report was published in the March 13 issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

For the study, a research team led by Megumi Tsubota-Utsugi, from the National Institute of Health and Nutrition in Tokyo, evaluated questionnaires from 1,007 men and women whose average age was 67.

Participants were asked about their diet, including animal protein intake, at the start of the study and seven years later.

Depending how much meat and fish they ate, participants were divided into four groups - they were also tested on the social and intellectual aspects of their lives.

At the end of the study, about one-quarter of participants reported declines in thinking and other skills. But men who ate the most meat and fish decreased their risk of mental and physical decline by 39 percent, compared with men who ate the least animal protein.

So, it seams beef really is king!

Link the Ethical Butcher beef collection HERE