What to Know About Protein Powders for Men Over 50

Medically Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on November 01, 2021
2 min read

Protein is a vital part of maintaining and building muscles. Most men start to lose muscle mass in their 30s. Sarcopenia, which is age-related muscle loss, is a natural part of getting older. People with sarcopenia are over two times more likely to break a bone in a fall. But this loss of muscle mass can be prevented or reversed.

Along with exercise, getting enough protein is key to building or maintaining muscle mass. Here’s how much you might need and the role that protein powders can play.

Protein is the most important food for building muscle mass. When you’re building muscle, your body breaks down protein into amino acids. Older men may need more protein because they often have a condition called anabolic resistance. This condition lowers your body's ability to break down protein. 

You can meet your body's needs by eating more protein-rich foods or drinking shakes that contain protein powder. Shakes may help you lose weight, but they offer less nutrition than whole foods. If you do use protein powders to meet some of your nutritional needs, there are several types to choose from. The most common types are:

  • Whey protein:  This is the most commonly used type of protein powder. It contains all of the amino acids you need and is best for everyday use. Whey protein is good to use after a workout.
  • Soy protein: This is also a common choice and helps build muscle.
  • Milk protein: This type helps support your body’s defenses and builds muscle.
  • Egg protein: This is released more slowly than whey protein, and you can take it throughout the day.
  • Hemp protein: Hemp is plant-based and a good way to get omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Pea protein: This is also plant-based. It’s easily digested and hypoallergenic.
  • Brown rice protein: This is another plant-based option that is good for people who are avoiding gluten.

It’s possible to get too much protein. One concern of a high-protein diet is that some foods with a lot of protein are also high in saturated fat, like red meat. Eating too much of this type of protein can raise your odds for heart disease and colon cancer. Even if you get your protein from low-fat sources, too much protein has been linked to kidney stones.

While there's no specific rule about how much protein is too much, here are some guidelines:

  • Don't eat more than 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.
  • Avoid protein sources that are highly processed or have a lot of fat.
  • Choose healthy options like low-fat dairy, nuts, and beans.
  • Spread out your protein over all of your meals, rather than eat it all in one big meal.
  • Talk to your doctor about your health conditions to make sure a high-protein diet is safe for you.
  • Eat lots of vegetables, fruits, and fiber, too.