Building and preserving muscles in seniors cannot be stressed enough. As the body ages, composition changes occur, including the displacement of lean muscle mass to body fat or a loss altogether. Losing muscle is concerning related to plummeting body strength, posing a significant risk for a lack of mobility and balance and heightened risk for falls and injuries. Along with proper exercise and physical activity, incorporate these 10 foods that build muscle into your or a loved one’s diet!
Foods to Build Muscles in Seniors
Animal meats are rich in protein and valuable in senior health, supplying an approximate 7 grams of protein per one ounce. Unfortunately, such products may get the boot, as they may be too tough and difficult for seniors to chew. However, such products can be more tolerable by adding ground meat into soft taco shells, pasta dishes, and casseroles. Adding gravy and other tenderizing agents can also contribute to a softer product.
2. Fatty Fish
In addition to the meats identified above, fatty fish also supply considerable protein while being an appropriate consistency for seniors to chew. Healthy, fatty fish includes salmon, tuna, and mackerel and can be paired with roasted veggies for a complete, well-balanced meal.
Tofu may be a significant protein alternative for individuals eliminating or reducing meat intake. Being made of soybeans, tofu is a plant-based protein that holds the flavor of ingredients it becomes paired with. Tofu’s less utilized cousin, tempeh, is also a significant plant-based protein source and further discussed here.
Dismiss the worry of the dietary cholesterol found in eggs, as new recommendations actually encourage their intake in moderated amounts. In fact, if giving up on eggs, you may be missing out on healthy fats and fat-soluble vitamins. Along with being sunny side up or scrambled, eggs may also be mixed into casseroles and pancake batter or hard-boiled and paired with salads and sandwiches.
Drinking milk at the dinner table is much more than a childhood memory, as it supplies adequate protein and calcium to encourage both muscle and bone-strength, respectively. Drinking a glass of milk with meals or even as a snack offers 8 grams of protein!
Add additional protein to meals with the use of cheese – sprinkle atop salads, layer a slice on a sandwich, and drizzle cheese sauce onto potatoes and other veggies. Cottage cheese is also an encouraged food to build muscle, supplying 12 grams of protein per ½ cup.
Beans are both protein and fiber-packed, making them a not only a food to build muscle, but for good digestive health, too. And with seniors already at risk of muscle weakness and constipation, increasing bean intake is highly encouraged.
Almonds, pecans, walnuts, and several other nuts are significant sources of both healthy fats and protein. They are also a convenient snack on-the-go while also offering crunch to salads, rice bowls, and several other dishes.
9. Peanut Butter
Peanut butter is an appreciated substitution for crunchy nuts, particularly if seniors have difficulty chewing and swallowing them. Add peanut butter into smoothies and oats, dip with carrot sticks, smear on apple slices or a banana, or simply enjoy by the spoonful for rich protein, healthy fats, and nutrients.
10. Protein Powders
Although dietitians and nutritionists encourage eating whole foods over supplemental products, protein powders may be a valuable alternative for seniors with a reduced appetite. Discuss with a dietitian and primary care provider to determine which type of protein powder may be best for you and your nutritional needs.