3 tips for women aged 40 and over who are unsure of what protein to eat so they know what to add to their shopping basket

3 weeks ago, during an online talk a lady asked me a question about protein.

“What protein is best as I don’t know what to eat. My doctor said I need to eat more as my muscles are getting weaker. But I heard there is “good” and “bad” protein but I don’t know which is which”

Protein is important for muscle maintenance and to prevent muscle loss, which can be a common issue as we get older.

I hadn’t heard of “good” and “bad” protein. But proteins can be ranked by “quality”. Proteins are made of amino acids. The more amino acids the protein has, the higher it will be ranked.

There are no “bad” proteins only proteins with more or less amino acids than the other. Like a bouquet of flowers, a big bouquet is great but a small bouquet is just as welcome.

So here are 3 tips about the types of protein you can eat and what to add to your basket:

1. Animal proteins are a “complete” protein

Shopping basket: Chicken, eggs, fish

“Complete” proteins contain all 9 essential amino acids. They are called “essential” as they body cannot make them, so you have to get it from your diet.

For a meal idea try this salad: sliced boiled eggs, diced chicken, sunflower and pumpkin seeds and lettuce with a vinaigrette.

2. Plant proteins on their own don’t have all the essential amino acids.

Shopping basket: beans, broccoli, peas

But if you eat a variety of plant proteins you can get all the essential amino acids.

So to make your “complete” protein bouquet you could eat: Beans + grain + 2 vegetables e.g. Sugar bean stew with brown rice, butternut squash and peas.

3. Soy is an exception — it is a plant based protein with all 9 essential amino acids.

Shopping basket: Tofu, Edamame, soy milk

Tofu (made from soybeans) is suitable for vegans and is a “complete” protein.

Crispy Tofu served with wholewheat noodles, braised aubergines and pak choi is a tasty way to eat your protein.

Fill your shopping basket with a variety of protein foods to get all the essential amino acids. This will help to support your muscle maintenance and prevent muscle loss as we get older.

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