You probably already know that as we age, our calorie needs decline and our need for protein increases. Yet many older adults who don’t have general knowledge about the body’s need for protein will opt for a salad at lunch instead of lean proteins like fish or chicken.

Can Someone Eat Too Much Protein?

The short answer to this question is no, but it goes a little deeper than that.

The International Society of Sports Nutrition reported that people who exercise, no matter how old, need approximately 1.4 to 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. This means that an active 180-pound individual should be consuming anywhere from 115 to 165 grams of protein a day.

A diet high in protein is beneficial when working toward weight loss or athletic goals. Furthermore, research suggests that those trying to lose weight should consider a calorie-restricted regimen where the macronutrient distribution is higher in protein.

Evenly distributed protein in a diet “provides a framework that allows older adults to benefit from the synergistic effect of protein and physical activity,” according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

In addition, a 2015 study published in the American Journal of Physiology – Endocrinology and Metabolism reported that after four days, researchers found that the more protein participants in the study ate, no matter when they ate it, the better their bodies were at building muscle.

Increased Protein and Better Health

We all know that increasing protein can make you stronger, and possibly improve your athletic performance. But did you also know that no matter your age, consistent protein intake can also be beneficial for overall health? It’s true! A recent study from Pennington Biomedical Research Center (reported in a US News article) stated “when people ate high-calorie diets, those who got 15 to 25 percent of their calories from protein stored 45 percent of the excess calories as health-building, metabolism-revving muscle.” On the other hand, people who only consumed five percent of their calories from protein stored 95 percent of the excess calories as fat.

What to Eat

If you are considering increasing your protein as you age, some good foods to consume come from animal sources, such as chicken, fish, milk, and cheese. However, if you have dietary restrictions, dairy-free and meat-free protein options could include quinoa, chia, and pea, since they contain amino acids just like animal-based protein sources. And of course, a protein shake, whether it’s made with whey protein or plant-based protein, could be a nutritious alternative for increasing your daily intake of protein.