A fitness program for men over sixty should include resistance training. With that and proper nutrition we can grow muscle and bone density. As we age, muscle and bone become more and more of a “use it or lose it” proposition.
As I’ll address in a future post, there are many benefits for men over 60 to grow lean muscle.
Protein is the building block of muscle. It is so important that, if you could only pick one supplement, I would recommend it is protein.
Your primary sources of protein should be from lean meats, fish, dairy, and some vegetable sources. Getting enough high-quality protein throughout each day becomes much easier by supplementing your meals with protein powder and/or bars.
Protein supplements come from a different sources and are available in various formulas. They are used to increase muscle mass, improve overall body composition and help meet all their body’s needs for protein.
The purpose of this post is to help you have the knowledge to make good choices for your particular approach to fitness, and, which protein supplement(s) would be best for you.
3 Forms of Protein Supplements
- Protein concentrates: Produced by extracting protein from whole food using heat and acid or enzymes. These typically supply 60–80% protein, with the remaining 20–40% composed of fat and carbs.
- Protein isolates: An additional filtering process removes more fat and carbs, further concentrating the protein. Protein isolate powders contain about 90–95% protein.
- Protein hydrolysates: Produced by further heating with acid or enzymes — which breaks the bonds between amino acids — hydrolysates are absorbed more quickly by your body and muscles.
Hydrolysates appear to raise insulin levels more than other forms — at least in the case of whey protein. This can enhance your muscle growth following exercise
 Power, O., Hallihan, A. & Jakeman, P. Human insulinotropic response to oral ingestion of native and hydrolyzed whey protein. Amino Acids 37, 333–339 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00726-008-0156-0
Sources of Protein Supplements
comes from milk. It is the liquid that separates from the curds during the cheese making process. It’s high in protein but also contains lactose, a milk sugar that many people have difficulty digesting.
Whey protein is quickly digested, providing a rapid rise in amino acids that may help increase muscle mass and strength, especially after resistance exercise. It also reduces appetite and promotes fat loss.
Casein Protein is also found in milk. However, it is digested and absorbed much more slowly. Several research studies show that casein is more effective at increasing Muscle Protein Synthesis, (MPS), and strength than soy and wheat protein — but less than whey protein. It can lead to muscle growth and fat loss during calorie restriction
Egg Protein is a high-quality protein, containing all 9 essential amino acids that our bodies can’t create on their own. Eaten with the yolks they can keep you feeling full longer. The powders are made up of just the whites. The protein is still high quality but lacks the fat contained in the yolks.
Pea Protein Powder is especially popular among vegetarians, It is made from the yellow split pea, a high-fiber that contains 8 of the 9 essential amino acids, (EAA’s). It is also rich in Branch Chain Amino Acids, (BCAA’s). In a 12-week study in 161 men doing resistance training, those who took 1.8 ounces (50 grams) of pea protein daily experienced similar increases in muscle thickness as those who consumed the same amount of whey protein daily
Soy Protein is a complete protein but it’s low in a few of the important amino acids required for building muscle. Several studies in men have compared the effects of soy protein to whey or casein for growing muscle. Though whey and casein are clearly superior, soy still is effective for growing muscle. It is a good alternative for someone who can’t take the dairy products.
Hemp Protein Powder is another plant based protein, coming from the marijuana plant. Hemp protein is high in omega-3s and seems to be easily digested. However, it is low in the essential amino acids lysine and leucine.
Brown Rice Protein Powder has all 9 essential amino acids but is too low in lysine to be considered a complete protein. More research needs to be done to gain an understanding of the value and limitations of Rice Protein.
Summary: With all the protein powders on the market today, the best for gaining muscle and losing weight are whey, casein or a blend of whey and casein.
 ts Nutr 2015 Jan 21;12(1):3. doi: 10.1186/s12970-014-0064-5. eCollection 2015.
How Much and How Often to Ingest Protein?
Daily and per dose needs are combinations of many factors including volume of exercise, age, body composition, total energy intake and training status of the athlete.
Recommendations regarding the optimal protein intake per serving for athletes to maximize MPS are mixed and are dependent upon age and recent resistance exercise stimuli. General recommendations are 0.25 g of a high-quality protein per kg of body weight, or an absolute dose of 20–40 g.
Higher doses (~40 g) are likely needed to maximize MPS responses in elderly individuals. Even higher amounts (~70 g) appear to be necessary to promote attenuation of muscle protein breakdown.
Spreading these protein feeds should be approximately three hours apart has been consistently reported promoting sustained, increased levels of MPS and performance benefits.
The timing of protein intake in the period encompassing the exercise session may offer several benefits including improved recovery and greater gains in lean body mass. However, perhaps the most important issue regarding protein intake during the pre-workout period is that it serves as an opportunity to eat thus elevating one’s total daily protein intake. In addition, consuming protein before sleep has been shown to increase overnight MPS and next-morning metabolism acutely along with improvements in muscle size and strength over 12 weeks of resistance training. Intact protein supplements, EAAs and leucine have been shown to be beneficial for the exercising individual by increasing the rates of MPS, decreasing muscle protein degradation, and possibly aiding in recovery from exercise. In summary, increasing protein intake using whole foods as well as high-quality supplemental protein sources can improve the adaptive response to training.
Jäger, R., Kerksick, C.M., Campbell, B.I. et al. International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Stand: protein and exercise. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 14, 20 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12970-017-0177-8
 Jäger, R., Kerksick, C.M., Campbell, B.I. et al. International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Stand: protein and exercise. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 14, 20 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12970-017-0177-8
Bars or Liquid?
For me, this is an “AND” strategy, not an “EITHER OR” one. As a general rule I prefer to shake up some powder in a shaker cup and drink it. There are 2 reasons for this. 1). As a general rule the quality of protein in powders is better than in bars. 2). In a shake, the protein is going to digest more quickly and get to work doing its magic. Bars are good when I am somewhere and its not practical to have a protein shake.
Deciding what protein supplements work best for you is part science and part personal. Like most supplements, its not a “one size fits all” proposition. My aim was to give you some science based information to help you make some educated decisions. I have used different ones over the years. In future posts I’ll share reviews information from others and from my own personal experience and knowledge. My go-to protein powder these days is Optimum Nutrition Whey Protein Isolate. It digests and assimilates quickly. The least expensive place to buy it is at Amazon.com. Just click on the link and it will take you right to the product.
Disclosure: If you click on the amazon.com link above and make a purchase I will be eligible for a small commission with NO additional cost to you.
If you’re over 60, (like me:) I hope you got some value from this post. If you have any comments or questions I’d love to hear from you in the Comment section below. Until next time! Glenn