Using a protein calculator for older adults is an easy way to figure out how much protein is enough on a daily basis. Eating enough grams of protein daily for good nutrition is important throughout our lifespan, but even more so for older adults at greater risk for chronic disease and reduced muscle mass and strength. Protein provides the building blocks that our bodies need to build new cells and repair damaged ones. Figuring out how much protein is enough is tricky, that’s why a protein calculator for older adults may be helpful.
Older adults may need fewer calories overall, due to reduced physical exertion or daily activity. However, the calories they consume need to be more nutrient rich to sustain health or reduce the loss of lean muscle mass or bone density. That means getting enough protein through the food we eat is vital, both for feeling good and also for maintaining strength, healing ability and a good body fat percentage compared to lean muscle.
Protein is a key ingredient to reducing the risk of osteoporosis by helping to maintain bone density and muscle strength, along with fueling mental clarity. Older adults often eat too little protein, especially adults 71 years or older according to the U.S. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.
But how much protein is enough? A simple protein calculator for older adults and younger people takes into account several factors to find the right number for each individual.
The answer about how much protein is adequate to support healthy aging for older adults depends on many factors including age, weight, height, activity level and whether someone has a chronic condition such as diabetes. One simple way to measure how much protein should be consumed daily is to use a protein calculator, like the one featured here.
Meat, poultry, and eggs are great sources of protein, and older adults tend to eat plenty of those. But there are alternatives such as seafood, dairy, fortified soy alternatives, beans peas and lentils that provide protein and additional nutrients, such as calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B12, and fiber. Mixing up protein sources in a varied diet helps the body get the right amount of vitamins and minerals along with the protein needed to support our bodies.
Some of the most common foods for good protein, meaning protein that contains the 9 amino acids that can be absorbed through food, include: eggs, chicken breast, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, milk, Lean beef, tuna, turkey breast, fish and shrimp. One egg amounts to about six grams of protein, one cup of milk is about 8 grams of protein. A slice of pizza is 12 grams of protein.
Plant based options that also have a good amount of complete proteins include Buckwheat, hummus and pita, soy products like tofu or edamame, peanut butter on toast and beans and rice.
Daily activity and exercise are also important in maintaining muscle mass, bone strength and maintaining a healthy weight. Older adults should try to keep an exercise schedule including walking, stretching and strength training to maintain mobility, balance and overall well-being.
Some of the barriers to good nutrition often include a reduced ability to grocery shop due to a loss of independence, or difficulty preparing healthy meals. An in-home caregiver is an option to handle grocery shopping for older adults to support good nutrition. The caregiver can work with the older adult to create a menu, shopping list and then prepare the healthy meals for the senior.
There are also many studies that show how healthy nutrition reduces the risk of pressure ulcers and reduces hospitalizations.
There are also several options for seniors or their families to order prepared meals in single servings. For more information about those nutrition options for older adults, read our blog about meal options for homebound seniors here.