Protein is an essential nutrient, but do your protein needs change as you age? Our nutritionist has the answer.

Q: I am 70 years old with diabetes, how much protein should I eat to stay fit and healthy?

Along with carbs and fat, protein is a key macronutrient in your diet.

It serves various roles in your body, including acting as the building blocks of your muscles, aiding biochemical reactions, and bolstering your immune system (1, 2, 3).

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) — the amount recommended to meet your advised nutrient intake — for protein is 0.36 grams per pound (0.8 grams per kg) of body weight.

However, studies have found that older adults, especially those over 70, can benefit from consuming more protein than the established RDA (4, 5).

This is because a higher protein intake can help combat sarcopenia, which is the muscle loss that occurs naturally with age, and keep your bones strong and healthy, thereby lowering your risk of fractures (6, 7).

In fact, studies suggest that older adults may benefit from consuming 0.45–0.68 grams of protein per pound (1.0–1.5 grams per kg) of body weight, as doing so may help them maintain their muscle mass and good health (4, 5).

What’s more, a higher protein intake can help those with diabetes by helping stabilize blood sugar levels and keeping you feeling fuller for longer (5, 8).

If you’re looking for ways to increase your protein intake, try incorporating more healthy high protein foods, such as lean meats, fish, eggs, dairy, tofu, and nuts, into your diet.