By Gabe Sanders PhD, NSCA-CSCS
Eat protein, take your vitamins, and you can live forever, right? If only the key to longevity was that simple, achieving maximal health would be easy. However, we know that is not the case; we all know that as we age, our bodies break down. It is an inevitable process that can only be delayed, not reversed.
We also know that exercise can slow or delay the aging process because exercise can significantly help you gain muscular strength and improve your cardiovascular system. The positive health benefits that you can achieve because of regular exercise and living an active lifestyle can be seen even as you age, even after your 60’s!
The benefits of protein and Vitamin D
Recent studies over the last two years have investigated the benefits of eating extra protein that contains leucine and the taking of vitamin D supplement. Leucine is a branched-chain amino acid found in meats and other proteins and it powers muscle growth while vitamin D helps maintain calcium concentrations, which can help with bone mineral density and muscle function. These studies agree that eating enough protein each day and taking a vitamin D supplement can slow the loss of muscle mass over time. It may even help promote muscle gains if you are lifting weights and exercising.
The recommended amount of protein per day is based on your body weight and research suggests to consume nearly 0.45 grams per pound of body weight. To determine your daily protein needs, simply multiply your weight by 0.45 and that number is how many grams of protein you should consume each day. Consult with a registered dietitian to find out your specific needs. Refer to your physician regarding vitamin D supplementation, but a single dose of an over the counter source should be sufficient.
How can I achieve change?
Now that you know the benefits of consuming extra protein and taking a vitamin D supplement, you should ask yourself, “How can I achieve this change to my diet and daily routine?”
For starters, I recommend taking your vitamin supplement with your breakfast in the morning or at night before bed. The timing of the supplement is not that important if you consume it daily.
Secondly, be sure to eat enough protein throughout the day. Chicken, eggs, and fish are excellent clean sources of protein that contain leucine. If you are having trouble achieving 0.45 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day, try a vanilla or chocolate 100% whey protein supplement.
This may sound weird to you, but protein supplements are not just for athletes and bodybuilders. Whey protein helps you supplement your diet so you can consume enough protein, simply put, protein shakes are good for you! So, like regular exercise, be conscious and intentional with your vitamin and protein intake.
*Before starting an exercise and nutrition regimen, consult with your healthcare provider and/ or registered dietitian.
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Verreijen AM, Verlaan S, Engberink MF, et al. 2015. A high whey protein-, leucine-, and vitamin D-enriched supplement preserves muscle mass during intentional weight loss in obese older adults: a double-blind randomized controlled trial. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 101(2):279-86.
Verlaan S, Maier AB, Bauer JM, et al. 2017. Sufficient levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D and protein intake required to increase muscle mass in sarcopenic older adults – The PROVIDE study. Clinical Nutrition. S0261-5614(17)30010-9