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Protein: The Building Block of Youth

Updated: Feb 29

This month I celebrated my birthday, and as the candles on the cake add up, so may the challenges our bodies face. One of the biggest concerns our bodies face as we age is muscle loss. This concerns people because it could lead to weakness, falls, and eventually a decline in independence. But fear not! Here is one secret weapon in this fight - Protein! We all know protein is important for our health. It can help us maintain strength, stay active, and age with confidence. Let's visit protein's benefits and how much you need!

Importance of protein:

  1. Muscles: Protein repairs and rebuilds muscle tissue, crucial for maintaining strength, independence, and mobility as we age. Adequate protein intake helps prevent muscle loss, keeping us active and reducing the risk of falls and injuries.

  2. Metabolism: Protein has a high thermic effect, meaning your body burns more calories digesting and using it compared to other macronutrients. This can boost your metabolism and aid in weight management, both important for longevity.

  3. Satiety: Protein is incredibly filling, keeping you feeling fuller for longer and potentially reducing cravings and unhealthy snacking. This can help with maintaining a healthy weight and overall nutritional balance.

  4. Bones: Protein plays a vital role in maintaining bone density and preventing osteoporosis. Strong bones mean a reduced risk of fractures and improved balance, allowing you to stay active and independent for longer.

But how much protein do we actually need?

The answer isn't as simple as a one-size-fits-all magic number. Forget those generic "1 gram per pound" formulas – your protein needs are as unique. Factors like your age, activity level, body composition, and even your health goals all play a role in determining your ideal protein intake.

Think of it like building a house:

  • Foundation: Your baseline protein needs depend on your weight and body composition. For most people with healthy kidneys, aim for 0.8 grams per kilogram of ideal or adjusted body weight (or 0.36 grams per pound) as a minimum.

  • Bricks: Your activity level is a major factor. Athletes and those with physically demanding jobs will naturally need more protein to repair and rebuild muscle tissue that they use daily.

  • Walls: Age plays a role too! As we age, our muscle mass naturally declines, so increasing protein intake can help counteract this.

  • Roof: Individual health goals like weight loss, muscle gain, or managing specific conditions can also influence your protein needs.

Feeling lost in the construction zone? That's where a personalized nutritionist comes in! Just like an architect designs a house tailored to your needs, a nutritionist can craft a protein plan that fits your unique blueprint.

Here's what a personalized approach can do for you:

  • Unlock your energy potential: Get the right amount of protein (and other macronutrients) to fuel your activities without feeling sluggish or overindulging.

  • Build and maintain muscle: Optimize your protein intake to support muscle growth and repair, whether you're an athlete or simply want to stay active.

  • Manage weight effectively: Protein can help you feel fuller for longer, potentially aiding weight loss or management.

  • Support specific health needs: Whether you're managing diabetes, gut issues, or other conditions, a personalized approach ensures your protein intake aligns with your health goals so you're not getting too much or too little.

There's a lot of health information out there and it's important that you feel confident and empowered about making healthy choices that work for you. I recommend incorporating a variety of protein from plant and animal sources focusing on real, whole foods at each meal or snack (if you snack). This ensures you're getting the complete spectrum of essential amino acids for optimal health. It's also important to learn how to combine protein with other nutrients for balanced meals.

Start your day with protein!

No matter what time you eat breakfast, it's important to start your day ("break the fast") with a protein-rich meal. Here are some of the breakfasts I personally eat and love!

  • Two eggs, 1 avocado, and 1 piece of toast with grass-fed butter

  • Smoothie with frozen veggies (riced cauliflower and spinach), 4-5 Brazil nuts, 1/2 banana, blueberries, unsweetened almond milk, and protein powder

  • Coffee with collagen powder and MCT oil

  • Greek yogurt (whole-fat, plain) with hemp seeds, flaxseed meal, and 88 Acres seednola

  • Leftover dinner meat (salmon, chicken, or steak) with roasted veggies drizzled with olive oil

Protein isn't just a fad, it's a crucial part of your aging-well toolkit. Remember, consistency is key. By incorporating protein-rich foods throughout your day and tailoring your intake to your individual needs, you're investing in a stronger, healthier you! Start today – your future self will thank you!

This blog post was written in collaboration with Gemini AI.



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