Protein: Be Strong, Be Active

Protein: Be Strong, Be Active

About This Tip Sheet: Protein For Older Adults

Registered Dietitian Nutritionists from Dairy Council of California and Washington State Dairy Council came together to answer the following common questions about protein for older adults:

  • Which foods are high in protein and good for older adults?
  • Which foods provide energy and stamina (without lots of caffeine)? 
  • How much protein do older adults need?
  • When is the best time for older adults to eat protein?
  • Do all milks contain the same amount of protein?

Protein is important for older adults. This tip-sheet offers many ways older adults can meet their protein needs to stay active and vibrant. This printable list of high protein foods includes easy, protein-rich meal ideas. These protein-rich recipes are made with readily available foods found in most kitchens. 

References used in this and other protein tip sheets:

Ajala O, English P, Pinkney J. Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Different Dietary Approaches to the Management of Type 2 Diabetes. Am J ClinNutr. 2013 Mar;97(3):505-16.

Beasley JM, Shikany JM, Thomson CA. The Role of Dietary Protein Intake in the Prevention of Sarcopenia of Aging. Nutr Clin Pract. 2013 Dec;28(6):684-90.

Beelen M, et al. Nutritional Strategies to Promote Postexercise Recovery. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2010 Dec;20(6):515-32.

Bendtsen LQ et al. Effect of dairy proteins on appetite, energy expenditure, body weight, and composition: a review of the evidence from controlled clinical trials. Adv Nutr. 2013 Jul 1;4(4):418-38.

Berner LA, Becker G, Wise M, Doi J. Characterization of Dietary Protein Among Older Adults in the United States: Amount, Animal Sources and Meal Patterns. JAND 2013;113:809-815.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. FastStats; Diet and Nutrition; NHANES 2007-10. Accessed Jan 29, 2014.

Clifton P. Effects of a high protein diet on body weight and comorbidities associated with obesity. Br J Nutr. 2012 Aug;108 Suppl 2:S122-9.

Dairy Research Institute—NHANES 2003-2006; Age 2+ Years. From: World Dairy Summit 2012 Presentation: Dairy Nutrition and Environmental Sustainability: Setting the Record Straight. Original source:

FAO 2013. Dietary Protein Equality Evaluation in Human Nutrition: Report of an FAO Expert Consultation, FAO Food and Nutrition Paper 92. Rome: FAO.

Fry CS, Rasmussen BB. Skeletal Muscle Protein Balance and Metabolism in the Elderly. Curr Aging Sci. 2011 Dec;4(3):260-8.  Accessed Jan 29, 2014.

Mangano KM, Sahni S, Kerstetter JE. Dietary Protein is Beneficial to Bone Health Under Conditions of Adequate Calcium Intake: An Update on Clinical Research. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2014 Jan;17(1):69-74.

U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services. National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse.  Accessed Jan 29, 2014.

Westerterp-Plantenga MS, Lejeune MP, Nijs I, van Ooijen M, Kovacs EM. High Protein Intake Sustains Weight Maintenance after Body Weight Loss in Humans. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2004 Jan;28(1):57-64.

Westerterp-Plantenga MS, Lemmens SG, Westerterp KR. Dietary Protein: Its Role in Satiety, Energetics, Weight Loss and Health. Br J Nutr. 2012 Aug;108 Suppl 2:S105-12.

Wolfe RR. The role of dietary protein in optimizing muscle mass, function and health outcomes in older individuals. Br J Nutr. 2012 Aug;108 Suppl 2:S88-93.