Getting older? Eat more meat, especially beef.
Research suggests that as we age protein intake becomes even more important and especially so for men, for interesting reasons.
Plant-based proteins are inferior to animals based ones
One other take away from these studies is the superiority of animal proteins of plant based ones and that for building and maintaining muscle mass in older men, beef is king!
Lean beef is particularly interesting for older adults.
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
For a deeper dive, see the articles below.
Protein and muscle health during aging: benefits and concerns related to animal-based protein
Animal Frontiers, Volume 9, Issue 4, October 2019, Pages 12–17, https://doi.org/10.1093/af/vfz030
Published: 28 September 2019
Skeletal muscle mass is governed by the daily balance between the rates of muscle protein synthesis and muscle protein degradation. Shifting the balance toward protein synthesis results in the addition of muscle protein, whereas shifting the balance toward protein degradation results in the loss of muscle protein (Phillips et al., 2009). Vigorous physical activity and exercise act as stimuli for muscle protein synthesis, which can last for several days following each bout (MacDougall et al., 1995), especially if the intensity is high enough to trigger anabolic hormone production (e.g., growth hormone, insulin-like growth factor 1) and cell-signaling cascades within muscle tissue. Food intake, in particular, dietary protein, is also a potent stimulator for muscle protein synthesis; however, it is more short-lived lasting only 4 to 5 h following ingestion (Fujita et al., 2007). The essential amino acids, especially leucine, appear to be the primary triggers for the initiation of muscle protein synthesis by way of mammalian target of rapamycin complex (mTORC1) phosphorylation and downstream markers that increase translation efficiency (Drummond et al., 2009).
Given this mechanistic evidence, elevated protein intake has been extensively studied to help preserve age-related muscle mass loss. For example, the recommended daily allowance for protein, or the daily amount sufficient to meet nutrition requirements for 97% to 98% of the population is 0.8 g per kg body mass (Institute of Medicine, 2005). To increase muscle health during the aging process, others have recommended 1.0 to 1.6 g per kg body mass, which is nearly a doubling for the current recommended daily allowance (Deutz et al., 2014). Older adults, especially women, often do not meet the recommended daily allowance for total protein. There are many reasons why protein intake could go down during aging. These include but are not limited to low appetite, dentition and other medical conditions, functional limitations that limit shopping, lack of knowledge on food preparation, and food insecurity (Deutz et al., 2014). Data from our Muscle, Metabolism, and Ergogenic workgroup suggest a significant and positive association with total protein intake from the diet and muscle cross-sectional area of the quadriceps muscles in younger and middle-aged adults (Figure 2). Therefore, providing specific recommendations that highlight protein type and quality is an important first step for providing aging adults with a protein intake level that emphasizes optimal consumption, instead of minimal intake, for muscle health.
Total protein intake from the diet or supplementation is categorized into two basic types: 1) plant-based protein sources (e.g., soy, rice, pea, oat, wheat, rice, legumes, beans, nuts) and 2) animal-based protein sources (e.g., meat, whey, poultry, fish, eggs, and milk). Adults aged 51 to 70 yr in the United States consume about 65% of protein from animal sources and approximately 35% from plant-based sources (Berner et al., 2013). Most (20%) of this animal-based protein was from red meat (14% beef and remainder pork, lamb, game, or beef/pork combined with other meats), 18% from dairy (including milk and cheese with less than 2% yogurt), 14% from poultry (95% chicken), and the remainder distributed among seafood, fish, and eggs. Accordingly, beef, pork, and chicken represent the majority of animal-based protein consumed in the United States. The more recent NHANES data (2015 to 2016) reveal increased consumption of poultry (47 g/wk), decreased consumption of unprocessed red meat (from 340 g/wk 1999 to 2000 to 284 g/wk 2015 to 2016), and no change in consumption patterns for processed red meats (182 g/wk; Zeng et al., 2019). van Vliet et al. (2015) recently provided an excellent critical review in relation to animal- and plant-based protein in relation to anabolic potential in skeletal muscle. In brief, Protein Digestibility Amino Acid Scores for milk, whey, egg, soy protein isolate, and casein are 1.000; soy and beef ranged from 0.91 to 0.92; and whole wheat, oat, and pea ranged from 0.45 to 0.67 (van Vliet et al., 2015). Thus, some animal and plant proteins were reported to have similar anabolic potential. However, there are limitations with the Protein Digestibility Amino Acid Scores (index may be replaced by Digestible Indispensable Amino Acid Score; Wolfe et al., 2016) given anabolic potential in skeletal muscle may vary based on essential amino acid content, digestibility, and absorption (Phillips, 2012). For instance, when stimulation of post-prandial muscle protein synthesis has been evaluated by stable isotope tracers methodology in combination with resistance exercise, whey (Yang et al., 2012), milk (Wilkinson et al., 2007), and beef (Phillips, 2012) appear to be superior to soy proteins, which suggests beneficial prediction of muscle mass with animal-based protein sources. Thus, animal-based proteins appear more anabolic than a similar dose of plant proteins.
There is additional cross-sectional evidence that indicates protein intake from animal sources are associated with increased muscle mass with aging. Lord et al. (2007) found animal-based protein intake was an independent predictor of an index of muscle mass (fat-free mass/height squared) in women >60 yr of age (Lord et al., 2007). Higher beef intake was also significantly associated with greater appendicular muscle mass index in nonobese males ≥50 yr of age (Morris and Jacques, 2013). Furthermore, leg lean mass was higher for participants in the highest quartiles of total protein and animal-based protein compared with those in the lowest quartiles (Sahni et al., 2015). Animal-based proteins generally are greater sources of lysine, leucine, and methionine relative to plant-based sources; thus, even larger amounts of plant-based protein are needed to have a similar influence on muscle size compared with animal-based proteins (Figure 3).
Key Nutrients Associated with Animal-Based Protein
Lean beef is particularly interesting for older adults. There are 29 cuts of beef that meet the labeling requirements for “lean” or “extra lean” (5 g or less fat and 2 g or less of saturated fat). 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 nonheme 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).
This study below looks at why meat eating might historically be related to masculinity however this link might be more biological than it is cultural conditioning.
Of Meat and Men: Sex Differences in Implicit and Explicit Attitudes Toward Meat
In addition to its role in brain development and function, meat consumption may have specific nutritional benefits for adult men.
Meat contains creatine, (naturally occurring only in animal-sourced foods), which improves muscular strength, size, and physical and neural performance (Kreider, 2003; Rae et al., 2003; Roitman et al., 2007). Meat has a more complete profile of amino acids than do plant-based proteins (Hoffman and Falvo, 2004). This affords comparatively greater muscle growth and bone density, and thus protection against fractures and other injuries (Bonjour, 2005), to which men are especially prone, due to their greater propensity for risk-taking (Byrnes et al., 1999) and physical violence (Wrangham and Glowacki, 2012; Georgiev et al., 2013).
It is also possible that the most nutritionally valuable portions of the kill, such as fat, organ meat and bone marrow, primarily consumed by the hunting males (Berbesque et al., 2011) offset the increased costs and risks of hunting large game (Hawkes et al., 2010).
Japan Study - led by Megumi Tsubota-Utsugi, from the National Institute of Health and Nutrition in Tokyo
Another study from Japan of more than 1,000 older adults suggested that men 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 the same association was not seen in women. Nor were the same benefits linked to proteins from plants, the researchers found.
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 aging 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 on 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, the researchers found.
This Father's day treat your dad a nutrient dense anti ageing food that has been produced in harmony with nature and farmed in a regenerative system.