Over 40? Three things you need to know about protein and ageing.

You will lose muscle as you age, between 3-8 per cent each decade, and this gradual loss of muscle mass, strength and function can lead to frailty, falls and fractures in later life. Like osteoporosis, it starts early, but unlike osteoporosis, a combination of diet and exercise can slow or even halt its progression, leaving you able to enjoy a healthy active lifestyle as you age.

1. In other words, you need protein to build and maintain muscle mass and strength.

How much protein?

Research suggests that the recommended daily allowance of protein be increased for middle -aged and older adults to between 1.0-1.5g of protein per kg body mass per day. For an typical 75kg adult…

2. …this means around 90g of protein per day.

But I already have enough protein…

Your body metabolises around 30g of protein at once, so even if you eat 90g of protein within a day, if it’s all at dinner then most of that protein doesn’t contribute to muscle mass and is wasted. The emerging consensus is to spread your protein intake through out the day.

3. …or 30g of protein three times a day.

Here’s a bonus fourth thing you need to know: resistance training. I’ll talk about it in a later post, but an appropriate exercise plan is an essential part of staying strong.


1. Morley et al. Sarcopenia with limited mobility: an international consensus. J Am Med Dir Assoc 2011;12:403–9 and Rennie MJ et al. Facts, noise and wishful thinking: muscle protein turnover in aging and human disuse atrophy. Scand J Med Sci Sports 2010;20: 5–9. cited in Paddon-Jones (ed.) (2015) Am J Clin Nutr 1339S-45S

2. Much of this article is based on Paddon-Jones (ed.) (2015) Am J Clin Nutr 1339S-45S and Bauer et al 2013 PROTAGE Recommendations JAMDA 14 (2013) 542-559