It was only a few weeks ago that one of my clients introduced me to his dad, who was in his early 70s. He had realized that he was getting less mobile, and I started working with him at the gym to regain some muscle mass.
But when it came to recommending the best protein powder for elderly and seniors, I had to take a step back and reach out to my dietitian.
See, the issue is that older adults have considerably different nutritional needs, especially when it comes to exercise. What works well for young adults, may not suit the diet of seniors at all.
In some cases, sports supplements could be more harmful.
So, I spent a few weeks researching this with my dietitian to make sure we got the protein intake and product right.
Our Top Product Recommendations
#1 Transparent Labs (Editor's Choice)
#3 Ensure Original
#5 Pure Whey
1 - Transparent Labs Grass-Fed Whey Protein (Editor's Choice)
Top of our list of protein powders for seniors is Transparent Labs. What attracts a lot of people to this company is their focus on being transparent about all the contents on the label.
For older adults, the focus point is the boost in protein from grass-fed cows that may provide enough protein to help build up body strength and muscle mass.
The only downside I would mention is that you can’t get it as an unflavored option to mix with food.
See this related article on the Best low carb and keto protein powders, where Transparent Lab's Grass-Fed whey protein is also ranked number one.
2 - Opportuniteas Grass-Fed Whey Isolate
Another grass-fed protein powder that my dietitian recommended is this Opportuniteas one.
It may be a healthy choice to make due to the fact that it’s low in carbs and cholesterol, which may also help older adults to lose some bodyweight.
It’s unflavored, and many people say it mixes easily, but you can’t get it in flavored form.
3 - Ensure Original Nutrition Protein Powder
For some seniors, the high doses of regular exercise and nutrition supplements may be a bit high.
This is where Ensure may fill a need by providing 8 grams for every serving.
The reason many people choose it, though, is down to the long list of important vitamins and minerals on the content label.
While it’s suitable for adults of any age, you should be aware that it’s a bit high in sugar.
4 - Isopure Zero Carb Protein Powder
This Isopure product has one of the largest ranges of flavors I could find. But the main benefits are down to having no carbs and being low in calories.
It also comes with added minerals and vitamins, including calcium and B12. These provide potential benefits for body strength and bone density, which has been shown in a clinical study .
One thing to highlight, though, is that some people have found it a little bit difficult to mix in a shaker.
5 - Pure Whey Grass-Fed Whey Protein Powder
Pure Whey is a product I have used myself, and it’s suitable for adults of all ages.
There are plenty of reviews that it mixes easily and has quite a pleasant taste to it, which means you could mix it with other foods.
The downside here is that it’s a bit high in saturated fat, which may not suit all diets.
Why Do Elderly People Need More Protein?
Seniors and elderly people need more protein because, as the body ages, it becomes less effective at absorbing protein. This may lead to muscle wasting and bone density issues .
And a closer look reveals some interesting findings from an in-depth study.
Many things in our bodies slow down as we grow older, and one thing seniors need to be aware of is that their digestion may not be as effective.
I did find one particularly interesting study that revealed a lot more details about how the human body becomes less effective when it comes to absorbing many nutritionally important substances, including protein .
As humans age, the body goes through a very natural process, which results to some level of muscle mass loss. This may lead to diminished muscle strength and other health issues, but there are plenty of things you could do to counteract it .
But in order to keep the muscles healthy, seniors have to ensure they are getting the full range of amino acids. It’s as important for seniors as it is for bodybuilders trying to build up strength and lean muscle mass.
Due to the lower rate of protein absorption, seniors may also find that it contributes to reduced bone health. One study, in particular, found that seniors may need considerably more protein to avoid loss of bone strength . Sometimes, the easiest way to meet the demand is through protein supplements.
As protein may also help with weight loss in the seniors and elderly population, this may also reduce the amount of strain on bones and joints.
As my dietitian said to me, the benefits of taking more protein on a day to day basis may be significant enough to provide quite an improvement in overall health, especially for seniors.
But are all supplements suitable?
Optimal protein works out to be about 15 to 25 percent of your daily calories, over a day, including 20 to 30 grams per meal and 12 to 15 grams per snack. - Kim Hayes, health writer
What To Look For In A Protein Powder For Elderly People
Based on several conversations with my dietitian, I have narrowed things down to three crucial considerations for seniors and older adults.
Essential Amino Acids
Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, and the essential ones have to be taken in through your food as the body cannot produce them. Without these, your muscles will not have all the nutrients necessary to repair and build up strength. The lac of essential amino acids as you get older may lead to loss in muscle mass.
That’s why I generally recommend that seniors opt for whey protein, as it may provide the broadest range of amino acids in the right concentration.
Even before you get to an elderly age, vitamins are an essential part of your health. But as you grow older, it may take your body more time to absorb vitamins, so you may want to consider getting a boost on a regular basis.
The most crucial mineral for seniors is calcium, as bones are heavily reliant on it. But as you get older, your bones become less effective at processing calcium, so you may need to ensure that your intake is increased.
Some of the above products contain added calcium, which may help older adults to retain bone density over time.
Is there anything you should stay away from?
What To Avoid In Protein Powders For Elderly People
As an older adult, there are two things that you want to be careful of. Unfortunately, I found that loads of supplements don’t consider these as important, so always check the label before you make a final decision.
Every gram of protein has about 4 calories. But many supplements also contain fillers and carbs like sugar. These then significantly add to the number of calories, which may have a negative effect on blood sugar levels and possibly lead to weight gain.
One advantage of a pure protein powder is that it doesn’t contain any fat. But saturated fat has to be removed in the manufacturing process, and a lot of companies tend to skip this step.
What's The Best Way For Elderly People To Use Protein Powder?
The best way for elderly people to use protein powder is to make it a daily habit to drink a protein shake. Protein shakes are typically easier to drink and can be paired with your usual diet. You can set a time every day either with your breakfast or after an exercise routine.
If you do some exercises every day, then this may be the most suitable time, especially after some more intense physical activity. The more strain you put on your muscles, the more this may stimulate the growth of lean muscle mass.
It doesn’t have to be a full-on, high-intensity workout session at the gym. Any form of physical exercise may trigger the necessary processes that could help to maintain strength.
Which Protein Powder Should You Try?
There are many benefits associated with increased protein intake, and many study results have shown the direct impact on lean muscle mass and bone density of the older population.
With reduced strength and mobility being a concern for many seniors, it’s important to get the right combination of nutrition and physical exercise. Based on my research and work with my dietitian, I would recommend that you try out Transparent Labs.
It delivers a good dose of whey protein while reducing calories from carbs practically to zero. I’ve heard many people say that this helps with planning meals to avoid messing up a diet.
Make sure you let us know on social media how it worked out for you.
Our #1 Protein Powder for the Elderly
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