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The Surprising Truth On How Much Protein Older Endurance Athletes Need

How Much Protein Do Older Endurance Athletes Need? EndurElite Chief Endurance Officer Matt Mosman discusses why endurance athletes over 40 need more protein than their younger counterparts and how much is required on a daily basis to maximally stimulate muscle protein synthesis and promote optimal muscle recovery and repair.

Quick Protein Guidelines For Older Endurance Athletes:

  • Consume 1.6 - 2 grams of protein per kg bodyweight daily to maximize muscle protein synthesis and promote muscle repair and recovery.
  • Eat at least 40 grams of protein at each meal.
  • These requirements can be met through whole food sources or supplemental protein powder.

Full Video Transcription:

Good morning, Family of Fast, Matt Mosman, the Chief Endurance Officer over at EndurElite. We all know how adequate protein intake on a daily basis is vastly important for endurance athletes to promote muscle repair and recovery. From previous videos, you know you should be consuming about 1.2 to 1.4 grams per kilogram body weight daily to optimize muscle protein synthesis and hence promote muscle repair and recovery. But the one caveat here is those recommendations are for younger endurance athletes. So, today what we're going to discuss is protein requirements for all older endurance athletes, more specifically those over the age of 40. 

Older Athletes Need More Protein Than Younger Endurance Athletes

Now in the event you don't have time to watch this whole video, what you want to shoot for, for daily protein intake as a older athlete or as a Masters endurance athlete is about 1.6 to 2 grams of protein per kilogram body weight daily met through whole food sources or through supplementation with like a whey protein powder. And here's why. When you turn 40, some natural physiological processes happen that basically start to deteriorate muscle tissue and your strength starts declining, this is called sarcopenia. And there's really nothing you can do to stop this from happening, but there are certain things you can do to mitigate the process, or lessen the loss of lean muscle tissue.

At What Age Should Athletes Start Eating More Protein

Now, first and foremost as a general recommendation over the age of 40, if you're a sedentary adult, the magic number is 1.2 grams per kilogram body weight daily. And why this amount is greater than the 0.8 grams per kilogram body weight recommendation for like the general population, a healthy population, is as you get older, it takes more protein to stimulate muscle protein synthesis. And there's a lot of physiological reasons behind this that we won't get into. But that's reason number one, is it takes more to stimulate muscle protein synthesis. And then along with that, each meal, instead of having the usual 20 to 25 grams of protein, so if you eat like a chicken breast or something like that, you would want to up that to about 40 grams of protein per meal from whole food sources or again through supplemental protein powder. But that number is only for sedentary adults, not for us active endurance types that are going older because I don't know about you, but I still want to compete and kick ass until I'm 80. So, as an older or Masters endurance athlete, the recommendation is gonna be even greater than that. And as I said earlier in the video, if you are an older or Masters endurance athlete who still wants to compete at a high level and recover and repair optimally, you want to shoot for about 1.6 to 2 grams of protein per kilogram body weight daily to maximally stimulate muscle protein synthesis and again, eat more protein at each meal.

Is There Any Research Showing Master Athletes Need More Protein

Now, you may be saying, "Oh Matt, you're just making up these numbers and spitting bro science out at us." But you know I don't do that. Look at this serious look on my face. So, there was actually a study done on this showing that Masters athletes require higher amounts of protein than a younger population in this case. So, what they did is these researchers, the guy's name was Doreen. He took a group of triathletes, one group were master level athletes with the median age of 53 and the other ones were younger triathletes in their 30s. And what the researchers did is they basically beat the hell out of them by having them do downhill running as fast as they could, just trashing their legs, then yeah, just basically killing them. Then immediately after exercise, both groups consumed 20 grams of whey protein and then for the remainder of the day they consumed 1.6 grams of protein per kilogram body weight daily. And then after that, they had three days of doing time trial performance on a bicycle while following the same nutrition strategy. So, the 20 grams of protein right after exercise, and then the 1.6 grams per kilogram body weight for the remainder of the diet for those three days.

And what they found is actually pretty interesting. They found that the whey protein plus the 1.6 grams per kilogram body weight daily protein worked really well for optimizing muscle protein synthesis for the younger triathletes and hence muscle repair and recovery, but it didn't work so good for the older endurance athletes. One, it didn't actually stimulate muscle protein synthesis and they did a lot of testing on those three days after, there's a lot of blood markers that still indicated high levels of muscle damage even with the higher protein diet at 1.6 grams per kilogram body weight. And basically, they just said, hey, this isn't enough protein for these older master endurance athletes to promote optimal repair and recovery. So, that's kinda where that magic number comes from as an older endurance athlete, is based on that research. So, on the low end, depending on how old you are and other physiological variables, the 1.6 grams per kilogram body weight daily might be right on the verge of being okay, but I would suggest as again as a Masters or older endurance athlete, I would say go with about 1.8 to 2 grams of protein per kilogram body weight if you're still doing competitive endurance exercise. And two, if you're [inaudible 00:05:44] training, I would probably go more towards that 2 grams per kilogram body weight daily.

So, there you have it, protein recommendations for the Masters or older endurance athlete. If you have you a buddy like me who's as old as dirt, please share this video with them. If you want other videos like this on endurance training, nutrition, supplementation, random musings and busting the bullshit, subscribe to the EndurElite YouTube channel or head on over to our EndurElite blog at www.endurelite.com. Get social with us on Instagram and our super awesome Family of Fast Facebook page. And until next time, my endurance friends, stay fueled, stay focused, stay fast and stay informed.

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