Everyone knows protein is a key nutrient to a healthy, active lifestyle. Walk into any grocery store and you’ll see shelves upon shelves of high-protein products. But despite its popularity, older Americans aren’t getting enough of it, reports a new study by The Ohio State University and Abbott Nutrition.
And it’s not just about quantity. When and how often protein is consumed also has a great impact on health. Eating enough protein at the right times and getting regular exercise can help preserve muscle strength and function.
''The power of protein is sometimes underestimated,'' says Abby Sauer, M.P.H., R.D., registered dietitian at Abbott Nutrition and healthy aging expert. ''As the building blocks of our muscles, protein plays a role in every aspect of our lives – from providing energy to run 5 km to giving us strength to get out of a hospital bed. There are simple steps adults can take – like including protein at each meal – that will have a long-lasting impact on overall health.''
Upping your protein doesn’t have to be hard. Here are a few ways Leia Flure, registered dietitian and blogger at moderationmaven.com, suggests boosting your protein intake.
• Add protein-toppers to meals.
Add diced ham to your pasta or salad. For example, pork and beans makes an affordable, protein-rich side dish, too.
• Snack on protein.
Instead of reaching for a handful of pretzels, snack on string cheese rolled between two slices of deli ham.
• Scrutinize your plate.
Aim for about 25 to 30 grams of protein per meal.
• Don't forget about serving pork at dinner!
Depart from the expected by trying recipes with Asian, Caribbean or Italian flair. Check out the Farm Table to Family Table Recipe Book with favorite recipes from America's Pork Producers for ideas!
• Amp up intake if you’re 65+.
Some adults may need up to two times more protein than younger adults, so add in protein snacks, like one before bed, or supplement your diet if needed.