Protein and the Maturing Athlete: How a Refined Focus on This Critical Nutritional Need Can Reinvigorate Your Fall Workouts sports-masters October 15, 2019 Featured, Health 2004 By: Francis Cartier, Marketing and New Products Director for Expresco Foods As athletes age, our bodies require small shifts to maintain a high level of activity. From how we move to how we approach nutrition, it is precisely these small shifts that can keep us engaged in the athleticism for which we’re striving. In particular, protein needs may differ from the agile athletes we once were in our 20s to the mature athletes we now are in our 40s and beyond. For those who relish the grueling work that comes with a challenging workout session, nutrition becomes increasingly important to consider. However, what once kept our bodies in optimal form tends to change. Protein is one such area of change. To effectively rebuild the muscle loss that can naturally occur with age, the type of protein consumed is just as important to consider as the way that protein is consumed. There are three primary needs to consider, and as your fall workout plan kicks into high gear, this can be the optimal time to establish nutritional practices that last longer than a cold front: 1. Mature athletes have a need for an increase in protein. Research has demonstrated that there is benefit to increased protein intake in older adults. Accordingly, “aging bodies process protein less efficiently and need more of it to maintain muscle mass and strength, bone health and other essential physiological functions,” as shared by Kaiser Health News. Further supporting the need for increased protein in aging adults, a 2018 study that followed more than 2,900 seniors over 23 years found that those who ate the most protein were 30 percent less likely to become functionally impaired than those who ate the least amount. Many of us desire nutritional practices that serve us in daily life or as we take on athletic endeavors. In fact, it is recommended that healthy older adults consume 1 to 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight daily. Looking for diverse sources of protein – whether through animal-based or plant-based sources – can fulfill this need for a well-balanced diet. Not only do we understand at least a minimal amount of protein is required to support healthy and vibrant living, but also, in older athletes, the risk of malnutrition is threatened by insufficient intake of this vital nutritional need. To combat this risk, research has suggested that older adults eat 25 to 30 grams of protein per meal. For those of us who remain active, this means rethinking the way we start our days and making each snack work hard for our bodies. 2. Identify tools that can keep you moving throughout the season. With age, keeping a food diary becomes more important, shares Sarah Manaresi, a nutrition and exercise coach. “Keeping a log of what you’re eating can demonstrate to you how different foods affect your body, not only on the scales, but also in energy level.” She confirms, “What you may have been able to eat in your 20s may not suit your body as it ages.” Furthermore, seek out brands that can support you on your quest for optimal nutrition. Food brands that make protein a priority can act as a partner in your journey. And, because transparency is more important than ever, the food brands you rely on to fuel your life should demonstrate the same knowledge. Cold weather can cause us to go into hibernation thinking. “Consider the support your gym can provide,” shares Manaresi. “This is often taken for granted. Meet up with a friend. Don’t let the weather or age limit you.” What’s more, ensuring your body is more routinely warmed up before diving into your physical work becomes more of a necessity as we age. Where you may once have been able to launch into a workout, battling joint and muscle pain with more gentle activity to start can help to prevent injuries that take you out of the game altogether. 3. Mature athletes should consider not just what protein to consume, but also when. Consider not just through which ingredients your body best digests protein, but also when it may need that protein most. In the immediate recovery period following exercise, mature athletes should replenish what their bodies need. Maintaining this habit as part of a strong exercise and diet plan can continue to bring new life to this season’s workouts, making you more resilient in the process. While new trends, exciting diets and product innovations seem to frequently disrupt the food industry, there has never been a higher demand for functional foods. Category leaders, like ProSticks by Expresco, have applied the knowledge they have of today’s active, on-the-go athletes to their daily work and continued innovation. Fully-cooked, chicken breast kebab skewers containing more than 20 grams of protein, ProSticks offer a nutritional difference that sets it apart from other snack foods competing for this coveted space on the nutrition facts panel. Many competing meat pack snacks only offer six grams of protein per serving, which is less than half of what ProSticks can offer today’s everyday athlete. Meant to fuel an active lifestyle, ProSticks are not only a delicious snack option, but also a healthy solution. This fall, consider who the partners in your success are – they should offer prime ways for you to move forward with confidence. ABOUT EXPRESCO FOODS For over 30 years, Expresco Foods has been committed to creating top quality, portion controlled, value-added convenient meal and snack solutions. Expresco’s innovative and entrepreneurial spirit has guided the development of fully cooked grilled protein products, frozen and fresh for foodservice, retail and deli across North America. Visit http://exprescofoods.com for more information.