Free shipping on all NZ orders over ${value1} and all AUS orders over ${value2}.
The latest on dietary protein and the way it influences our health & metabolism as we age
The latest on dietary protein and the way it influences our health & metabolism as we age

How much protein do I really need?

In the 1940’s it was estimated that we needed 0.8g of protein per kg of lean body mass to ward off the serious effects of starvation.

Recent research suggests a more optimum range of between 1.6 – 2.2g of protein per kg of lean body mass to maintain lean muscle, fight off the ever-present effects of sarcopenia (muscle loss as we age or are sedentary), preserve our functional mobility and maintain metabolic health.

N.B: To work out your lean body weight you need to subtract your body fat from total weight.

For example, if you're 80kg with 25% body fat, your lean body mass = 64kg.  You then multiply 64kg by 1.6 which equates to 103g protein/day from all dietary sources.

The impact of protein on ageing

Research has found that after the age of 40, our protein metabolism gets gradually less efficient.

To maintain the thermogenic and metabolic benefits of lean muscle mass, sufficient protein in our daily diet is required.

One of the greatest threats to lean muscle mass is unexpected periods of injury, prolonged bed rest & illness which can cause sudden loss of muscle mass which is physiologically very difficult to regain (even with diligent exercise), especially after 40 years of age.

When we lose lean muscle mass in this way, the weight that is lost is most likely to come back on as additional body fat, which can alter our metabolism further.

In these circumstances it’s ideal to keep as active as permitted and maintain a minimum of 30g of protein 3-4 times per day until you are recovered.

Over 60 years of age, it’s even more critical to keep lean muscle mass for metabolic heath as well as for functional mobility and strength/dexterity to avoid injury caused by falls.

Timing and quantity of protein intake

Research suggests the two most important times to take protein are your first and last meal of the day, with the morning being the most important.

To activate muscle synthesis (i.e. muscle building), we should be targeting 30-60g protein per meal. Activating muscle synthesis is a very energy expensive process, so the body has to sense that the conditions for muscle synthesis have been met before it triggers. The critical trigger point that the body is looking for is at least 25/30g of leucine-rich protein, once that level has been detected then muscle synthesis can begin.

Consuming less than 30g of protein in a meal does not activate the necessary pathways for muscle synthesis. Conversely, consuming more than 60g of protein in one sitting results in the excess protein being converted to glucose for storage (except in conditions of intense resistance exercise).

The key take away here, is you can’t load adequate protein into one meal per day, it needs to be spread across 3-4 meals depending on your body weight, exercise regime and goals.

The truth about plant protein

When calculating your daily protein intake adjust for the following:

Protein from plants in their natural form i.e. nuts, seeds, legumes are only around 60% bioavailable meaning you need to discount them by around 40%.

Most people don’t know this one critical consideration when calculating the amount of protein they are consuming each day.

However, in the case of plant isolates (e.g, pea and faba protein isolates) where the protein has been isolated from the fibre, there is not the same need to discount. Likewise, animal derived proteins like whey, dairy, meat and fish are all around 97% bioavailable.

How much of the protein you take daily is getting wasted?

When protein is consumed, it’s broken down in the digestive tract into small peptides, and eventually into amino acids that will be absorbed in the intestines.

To be effective, protein must be broken down into smaller particles within approximately 90 minutes of consumption – the time it takes to transits the correct area of the digestive tract. If it takes longer to be broken down into amino acids then the protein is excreted from the body.

Things that can assist with the digestive process are digestive enzymes and a diverse and healthy microbiome. Studies have shown an increase in absorption of around 25% when adequate digestive enzymes are present.


Why some people get discomfort after ingesting protein

During digestion, larger peptides (comprised of more than seven amino acids) may trigger an immune response, causing discomfort and even inflammation in the gut.

Prohydrolase is a digestive enzyme formulation that has been developed to be consumed in conjunction with protein supplements in order to provide some pre-digestion of the protein. This ensures that smaller, non-immunogenic peptides are formed, therefore reducing the potential for discomfort that is often associated with protein consumption and at the same time allowing your body to take full advantage of the essential amino acids for building muscle and supporting muscle recovery.