Diet can impact how much age-related muscle loss we will experience as we grow older. Poor choices can cause a host of problems, including a loss of strength that leads to balance problems and falls. But a healthy diet rich in fiber, fruits, vegetables, and protein can lessen or delay a decline in muscle strength. That can help older adults avoid a disabling fall.
Research shows some people begin losing muscle mass as young as age 30. Each decade, we lose an estimated 8% of our muscle mass. It’s a condition known as sarcopenia. Because muscle burns more calories than fat, many people also begin to see their weight creeping up in their thirties and forties.
But there are steps you can take to minimize sarcopenia. In addition to adopting an exercise routine that includes weight training, eating the right foods can help. While it’s important to plan healthy menus for every meal, breakfast is the one many people skip. That can leave you feeling tired and less motivated to exercise and eat well-balanced meals the remainder of the day.
Protein Intake and Older Adults
The experts from Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital Department of Nutrition suggest adults of any age should consume about 7 grams of protein for every 20 pounds of body weight. In addition, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) developed a Dietary Reference Intake calculator. You can use it to calculate how much protein you need in a day, as well as a variety of other vitamins and nutrients.
To help you determine the appropriate amount of each type of protein you should eat, here are a few general guidelines:
- 3 ounces of meat typically contain an average of 21 grams of protein
- 1 cup of milk will deliver 8 grams of protein
- 1 cup of dry beans equates to 16 grams of protein
Breakfast Foods with Protein
Some breakfast foods that can help seniors meet their recommended daily protein goals include:
- Low-fat yogurt
- Reduced-fat cheese
- Reduced-fat cottage cheese
- Nuts, such as almonds and walnuts
- Peanut butter
- Tofu and soy products
A great way to make the most of your breakfast is to combine several forms of protein with fruits, vegetables, fiber, and other essential elements. Here are a few options:
- Breakfast bowl: Create a breakfast bowl that contains Greek yogurt, fruit, and a fiber-rich cereal, like shredded wheat or raisin bran.
- Oatmeal: Top steel-cut oatmeal with an egg or nuts and yogurt.
- Protein smoothie: Whip up a quick smoothie with low-fat yogurt, peanut butter, fruit, and spinach.
- Avocado toast: Another suggestion is toasted sourdough or whole grain bread topped with smashed avocado and an egg or dollop of Greek yogurt.
Healthy Meals at Heritage Senior Communities
One reason many older adults choose to move to a senior living community is to have easy access to nutritious meals. At Heritage Senior Communities, residents have their choice of menu options at every meal. Each one is prepared on-site at our communities.
Learn more about our commitment to healthy meals by calling the Heritage community nearest you today. We’ll be happy to schedule a time for your personal visit and even invite you to join us for a meal!