This Is the Ideal Protein Intake for Older Adults—Plus How to Achieve It

Medically Reviewed by Felicia Newell, M.S., RDN

September 6, 2023

As we get older, our bodies have different nutritional needs, and one nutrient that becomes especially important is protein. Protein is essential for maintaining muscle mass, supporting our immune system, and keeping our skin healthy (1).

So for seniors aged 60 and above, it's crucial to ensure you're getting enough protein in your diet. If you're curious about how much protein you should be consuming at this stage of life, then you're in the right place.

In this blog, we dive into the importance of protein, how it can positively impact your health as you age, and six easy tips to help you increase your protein intake.

Why Is Protein Important for Seniors?

Protein—an essential macronutrient for seniors—plays a crucial role in maintaining strength, repairing body tissue, and supporting immune function. As we age, protein becomes even more important because it helps prevent age-related muscle loss (known as sarcopenia) (2).

Sarcopenia is a condition characterized by the loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength, which increases with age. It’s a major cause of functional decline and loss of independence among older adults. Although sarcopenia is a natural part of the aging process, inadequate nutrition, lack of physical activity, and chronic illness can exacerbate its progression (2). 

So, what can happen if sarcopenia develops? One of the most immediate impacts is the decline in physical strength and performance, often resulting in difficulties with daily tasks such as walking or lifting objects. 

Over time, this loss of muscle function can lead to reduced mobility and increased dependence on others. Furthermore, sarcopenia can lead to a heightened risk of falls and fractures, as well as decreased ability to ward off and recover from infections and illnesses — both major health concerns for older adults (3). 

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How Can I Prevent Sarcopenia?

The development of sarcopenia can be mitigated with a little know-how and motivation. Here are some tips to help reduce your risk of developing this condition:

  • Participate in regular physical activity
  • Eat a balanced diet
  • Include protein in your diet

Want to know how much protein you should be eating? Keep reading to find out. 

How Much Protein Should Seniors Eat?

Data suggests that protein requirements tend to be higher among older adults. Generally, it’s recommended that older adults consume 1-1.2 grams of protein per kilogram (kg) body weight (4).

To determine what that means, you have to calculate how many kilograms you weigh by dividing your weight in pounds by 2.2.

Body weight in pounds/ 2.2 = Body weight in kilograms 

From there, multiply your weight in kilograms by 1 and again by 1.2. These results will tell you the range of protein you should consume every day if you are older. 

Body weight in kilograms x 1 = lower range of grams of protein per day

Body weight in kilograms x 1.2 = upper range of grams of protein per day

Here is what this means for various weights:

Body Weight in Pounds (lbs)
Daily Protein Goal
120 lbs
55-65 grams per day
140 lbs
64-76 grams per day
160 lbs
73-87 grams per day
180 lbs
82-98 grams per day
200 lbs
91-109 grams per day

To put that into perspective, a 3-ounce serving of skinless chicken has 28 grams of protein, a half-cup of lentils has 9 grams, and one large egg has 7 grams.

A hand pouring a scoop of NativePath Original collagen peptides from the 56 serving bag into a coffee mug with. french press in the background.

Give Your Morning a Boost of Protein

Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body and essential for the health of your bones, joints, skin, hair, nails, digestion, and more.

Add to Cart

5 Ways to Increase Protein In Your Diet

Here are five ways you can easily increase your protein intake:

1. Start Your Day With Protein

By including protein in your morning meal, you provide your body with the building blocks it needs for tissue repair, muscle growth, and overall maintenance throughout the day. This is especially important after an overnight fast when your body may be in a catabolic state, breaking down muscle tissue for energy. 

Examples of a high-protein breakfast include eggs, leftover protein from the night before, Greek yogurt, baked beans, or a protein shake.

2. Snack on Protein-Rich Foods

Incorporating high-protein snacks in between meals is a great way to boost your daily protein intake. Nuts and seeds like almonds, cashews, and pumpkin seeds are excellent choices as they provide a combination of protein, healthy fats, and essential nutrients. Other snack ideas include hard-boiled eggs, grass-fed jerky, Greek yogurt, cheese, roasted chickpeas, and chia seed pudding.

3. Add Protein Toppers to Meals

Add protein-rich toppings like chia seeds, flaxseeds, hemp seeds, avocado, pumpkin seeds, roasted chickpeas, or hard-boiled eggs to your meals or salads. This is an excellent way to add another 10+ grams of protein to your daily diet.

4. Double Up on Protein in Meals

By incorporating two or more protein sources in a meal, you create a balanced and nutrient-rich plate. For example, pairing lean meats like chicken or fish with legumes such as lentils or beans provides a complete amino acid profile and delivers a substantial amount of protein.

5. Include Protein Powder in Your Diet

Protein powder is perhaps the simplest way to get an extra 20+ grams of protein in your day. Simply add 1-2 scoops to a glass of water or a quality nut milk. Other ideas include adding it to smoothies, coffee, and baked goods. And if you have an unflavored protein powder, the options are limitless—add it to mashed potatoes, soups, sauces, and dressings.

NativeTip: It's not just about quantity but also the quality of protein you consume. If budget allows, opt for cage-free, pasture-raised, grass-fed, and wild-caught protein sources.

Lauren Manaker
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Lauren Manaker

Lauren Manaker is an award-winning registered dietitian (RDN), certified lactation educator (CLE), author, and speaker with over 20 years of experience. She earned her BS in Food Science and Human Nutrition from the University of Florida (go Gators!) and an MS in Clinical Nutrition from Rush University in Chicago.

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    Medical Disclaimer

    This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Dr. Chad Walding nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement, or lifestyle program.

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