Despite its reputation as a supplement just for bodybuilders, whey protein has many health benefits that extend beyond its use in the fitness world. Not only is whey protein helpful with weight management and muscle growth, but it has also recently been found to reduce some of the effects of aging.
Research suggests that roughly 45% of older individuals in the general population, and more than 84% in residential care facilities, are not adequately nourished. This can happen for a number of reasons including reduced appetite and the fact that nutrients are not absorbed as well as we age.
An insufficient intake of quality protein can lead to loss of muscle mass, among other health issues. For most people, this muscle loss begins around age 40, with an estimated 8% loss of muscle mass per decade. After age 70, muscle mass decreases by about 15% per decade. Approximately 5%-13% of people aged 60 or over experience age-related muscle loss that is so severe, it increases the risk of falls and disability.
Inadequate protein consumption among older individuals is associated with reduced strength, decreased bone mass, lowered immunity, cognitive impairment, and delayed recovery from wounds and surgery. Loss of muscle mass is not inevitable, but it does require taking preventative action.
Whey protein is an effective strategy in fighting the aging process. Here are four reasons you should try whey protein:
- Helps Prevent Osteoporosis – as you age, you lose your ability to effectively maintain strong bones and muscles. Studies have shown that elderly adults who consume low levels of protein are more prone to significant loss in bone density – particularly in the hip and spine. So, one of the easiest things you can do for healthy bones is consume a protein-rich diet. One study found that adults who added 20 grams of whey protein to their daily diet were able to accelerate the healing of bone fractures and prevent osteoporotic fractures.
- Slows the Aging Process – Glutathione is another natural antioxidant our bodies produce. Antioxidants are responsible for countering the effects of aging by fighting damaging free radicals and other toxins. As you age, your production of glutathione decreases leaving you more susceptible to cell disintegration and liver damage. Whey protein produces an amino acid that helps boost glutathione production. So, drinking that whey protein smoothie for breakfast is a great way to slow the aging process.
- Boosts Metabolism – If you consistently boost your metabolism, you will lose fat faster. As you ingest food, your metabolism increases. This effect is known as thermogenesis and is greater for protein than it is for fat or carbs. In a recent study, scientists found that whey protein not only provided a higher thermogenic effect than other protein sources, but fat “burning” was also greater for whey protein than the others. Adding whey protein to the diet — or better yet — replacing processed foods with it can boost your metabolism.
- Maintains Healthier Skin – Whey protein is good for anti-aging nutrition and skin care because it contains branch chained amino acids (BCAAs). Studies have shown that BCAAs can have a positive effect on healing and nourishing skin.