As we age, our nutritional needs evolve, and one of the most significant changes involves our protein requirements. While the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is set at 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight per day for adults, research increasingly suggests that this amount may be insufficient for older adults. In fact, many experts now advocate for higher protein intake in seniors to support muscle mass, strength, and overall health.

Why Do Seniors Need More Protein?

  1. Sarcopenia and Muscle Mass Maintenance: Sarcopenia, the age-related loss of muscle mass and function, is a common concern for older adults. Adequate protein intake is crucial for preserving muscle mass and preventing this condition. Higher protein intake helps stimulate muscle protein synthesis, which is essential for maintaining muscle health and strength.

  2. Protein Absorption and Utilization: As people age, their bodies become less efficient at absorbing and utilizing protein. This decreased efficiency means that seniors may need more protein to achieve the same benefits that younger individuals get from lower amounts.

  3. Increased Anabolic Resistance: Older adults often experience anabolic resistance, a reduced sensitivity to the muscle-building effects of protein. To counteract this, seniors need to consume more protein to trigger the same level of muscle protein synthesis that younger people can achieve with less protein.

  4. Recovery from Illness and Injury: Seniors are more prone to illnesses and injuries, which can lead to periods of inactivity and muscle loss. Adequate protein intake is vital during recovery to rebuild lost muscle and support the healing process.

Expert Opinions

Dr. Mark Hyman, a leading functional medicine expert, emphasizes the importance of protein for older adults. He notes that higher protein intake can help maintain muscle mass, support immune function, and improve overall health outcomes in seniors. Dr. Hyman suggests that older adults might benefit from increasing their protein intake to better meet their physiological needs .

Dr. Peter Attia, a physician focusing on the science of longevity, also advocates for higher protein consumption in seniors. He points out that the traditional RDA for protein is based on preventing deficiency rather than optimizing health. Dr. Attia recommends that seniors aim for higher protein intake to support muscle maintenance, metabolic health, and overall longevity .

Recommended Protein Intake for Seniors

Several studies and health organizations suggest that seniors should aim for a higher protein intake than the standard RDA. Common recommendations include:

  • 1.0 to 1.2 grams per kilogram of body weight per day: This range is often suggested for healthy older adults to maintain muscle mass and function.
  • 1.2 to 1.5 grams per kilogram of body weight per day: This higher range may be beneficial for older adults who are physically active, recovering from illness or surgery, or have conditions that increase protein needs.

Practical Tips for Increasing Protein Intake

  1. Incorporate Protein-Rich Foods: Seniors should include a variety of protein-rich foods in their diet, such as lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, legumes, nuts, and seeds. These foods provide high-quality protein along with other essential nutrients.

  2. Distribute Protein Throughout the Day: Instead of consuming most protein in one or two meals, it’s beneficial to distribute protein intake evenly across all meals and snacks. This approach helps maximize muscle protein synthesis throughout the day.

  3. Consider Protein Supplements: For those who struggle to meet their protein needs through food alone, protein supplements can be a convenient and effective option. One highly recommended supplement is Thorne Whey Protein. Thorne Whey Protein is known for its high-quality ingredients, bioavailability, and absence of artificial additives. It provides an excellent source of protein to help meet the increased demands of older adults.

  4. Monitor and Adjust: Regularly assess dietary habits and protein intake to ensure they meet the increased requirements. Consulting with a healthcare provider or a registered dietitian can help tailor protein intake to individual needs and health conditions.


Increasing protein intake above the RDA is crucial for seniors to support muscle health, recovery, and overall well-being. By understanding the unique protein needs of older adults and making informed dietary choices, seniors can enhance their quality of life and maintain independence as they age. Expert advice from professionals like Dr. Mark Hyman and Dr. Peter Attia underscores the importance of reevaluating protein requirements to optimize health in our later years.


  1. Hyman, M. (n.d.). Higher Protein Intake in Older Adults. Retrieved from Dr. Mark Hyman’s official website.

  2. Attia, P. (n.d.). Protein Needs for Longevity. Retrieved from Dr. Peter Attia’s official website.


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