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  • Writer's pictureMatt Crowe

Why You Need More Protein for Optimal Health & Longevity

Proteins are the main building blocks of your body. Proteins are made up of smaller molecules called amino acids. They are used to make muscles, tendons, organs, and skin, as well as enzymes, hormones, neurotransmitters, and various molecules that serve many important functions. Without proteins you wouldn’t exist!

I am moving optimal protein consumption to the top of my optimal health & longevity strategies. In recent years the research has been mounting exponentially. If you are over 30 years old (especially 60 & more especially female) and not eating good quality protein in 2-3 meals per day you will almost certainly not be maintaining adequate muscle mass & strength & bone density! And in case you missed it maintaining muscle is THE MOST IMPORTANT anti-aging tactic for everyone!

Some facts:

  • When we are young, before 20 or so, a lot of protein synthesis is controlled by hormones so protein intake is not as essential.

  • As people age we become less efficient at protein synthesis so must rely on extra protein from our diet.

  • Statistics show over 40% of women over 60yrs old don’t meet the RDA for protein. Note: The RDA is a farcical outdated equation that was originally developed using 20 yr old male college students!

  • The RDA is 0.8 grams protein. The research for optimal health is closer to 1.6-2.4 grams. Size, sex, energy expenditure will vary this.

Some of the main reasons to consume optimal protein levels include:

1. Weight Management - protein is more filling, reduces hunger, boosts metabolism and is essential if you want to maintain lean muscle mass whilst restricting calories.

  • Fat Loss - losing weight without doing strength training and increasing protein has a big difference in the type of weight you lose! Dieting alone will result in up to a 45% loss of lean muscle mass along with fat. Strength train and eat protein and you can lose the same amount of weight but preserve over 90% of lean muscle mass. Bottom line - when you restrict calories for weight loss it is critical you keep high levels of protein (make your calorie loss come from carbs and fat) and even more critical you do strength training.

2. Increased Muscle Mass and Strength - Muscles are built from protein, most notably the key a amino acid Leucine. Protein consumption is particularly effective after strength training to stimulate muscle protein synthesis.

3. Essential for Healthy Aging - Increased protein intake combined with strength training and physical activity is essential to reduce age-related muscle deterioration and prevent sarcopenia. We synthesise protein poorly after 65 so must get high quality protein from our diet.

4. Good for Your Bones - People who eat more protein tend to maintain bone mass better as they age and have a much lower risk of osteoporosis and fractures. This is especially important for women, who are at high risk of osteoporosis after menopause.

5. Stabilising Blood Sugar and Metabolic Health - insulin resistance is one of the true epidemics in health today. Carbs are the cuplrit! Protein builds muscle mass and muscles are our best ‘sink’ for storing glucose! Ie. muscles give glucose somewhere to be stored instead of being sent to liver and organs to be stored as fat!

6. Promote Emotional Stability & Brain Health - certain amino acids are turned into neurotransmitters such as dopamine and GABA for the brain.

What you should do:

  • Aim for 1.6 grams per kg of body weight of quality protein per day. For a 60kg female that is 96 grams of protein.

  • General rule - Most women should aim for 80-120 grams of protein. Men it is more like 120-150 grams.

  • The MOST important factor by far is to consume 30-45 grams of protein for your first meal of the day. In reality that means either eggs and meat/salmon source or a whey protein shake.

  • The body can only synthesise 30-40 grams of protein at one time. It is essential to spread protein consumption over 3-4 meals.

  • Ideal plan is 40-50 grams protein for breakfast and 30-40 grams each for lunch & dinner.

  • Meat vs plant debate - you can get enough protein from a plant based diet but you REALLY have to know your nutrition and eat a huge amount of plant based calories.

  • Meat is a superior source of protein - it has a far higher concentration and a better ratio of the essential amino acids.

  • Meat protein makes it much easier to meet your protein requirements e.g a 100 grams of chicken breast has 30 grams of protein. To get the same amount of protein out of beans (the highest plant based protein source) you will need 2 cups of a beans or chick peas!

  • Plants have a poor concentration and amount of key amino acid for muscle building - leucine!

Best sources of protein

  1. Organic grass fed & finished red meat

  2. Organic chicken

  3. Wild caught fish - salmon, tuna, sardines

  4. Eggs

  5. Organic Pasteur raised dairy - real cheese & yoghurt

  6. Legumes, beans, peas, tofu

  7. Nuts & seeds

Important Fact

  • As important as protein is it still only accounts for about 25% of muscle & bone strength and growth. The OTHER 75% IS RESISTANCE TRAINING! … so keep lifting heavy stuff!

When Protein Powder Makes Sense

Real food is always best BUT shakes and smoothies are an excellent way to get protein into your diet if you are struggling AND they are an exceptional method to add many vital and helpful vitamins, ,minerals, phytonutrients and ‘superfoods’ that are very difficult to include in your diet other wise!

The type of protein powder really needs to be suited to the individual but pure whey protein is generally far superior. It is important to note that plant proteins like pea and rice are much less bioavailable than animal proteins like whey, egg and beef.

My 3 favourite Super Food Smoothies are below:

Fatloss Super Nutrient Smoothie

1 scoop Nuzest Good Green Juice or other Green Powder

1 scoop Whey or pea protein

Sprinkle Ceylon cinnamon

1-2 tablespoon MCT oil

1/2 Avocado (large)

2 tablespoon Chia or flax seeds

1 scoop Matcha Green Tea powder

Coconut water or water to suit (200-300ml)

Breakfast Choc Berry Nut Smoothie

1/2 cup frozen organic Blueberry

1 scoop Whey or pea protein

1 tablespoon Cacao powder

2 tablespoon Almond or macadamia butter

Good sprinkle Ceylon cinnamon

4 Brazil nuts or 6-8 almond & walnuts

1 tablespoon Flaxseed or chia seeds

1 tablespoon Collagen or colostrum

Unsweetened macadamia or almond milk to suit (200-300ml)

Detox Cleanse Smoothie

1 lemon or 1/2 grapefruit

2 celery stalks

2 cups spinach

1/4 bunch parsley

1/4 bunch cilantro

1 small cucumber or aloe Vera

1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Ginger slices

Mint leaves

Filtered Water to suit

Option - 1/2 avocado

Possible - add Stevia or Monk Fruit to sweeten

Cheers Coach

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