It was only a few weeks ago that one of my clients introduced me to his dad, who was in his early 70s. He had realized that he was getting less mobile, and I started working with him at the gym to regain some mass.
But when it came to recommending the best protein powder for elderly and seniors, I had to take a step back and reach out to my dietitian.
See, the issue is that older adults have considerably different nutritional needs, especially when it comes to exercise. What works well for young adults, may not suit the diet of seniors at all.
In some cases, protein supplements could be more harmful.
So, I spent a few weeks researching this with my dietitian to make sure we got the whey protein intake and product right.
Our Top Protein Powders for Seniors (September 2023)
1 - Transparent Labs 100% Grass-Fed Whey Protein (Editor's Choice)
Transparent Labs Whey Protein Isolate stands proudly at the top of our list of protein powders for seniors. What attracts a lot of people to this company and its products is its focus on being transparent about all the contents on the label.
For older adults, the focus point is the boost in protein from grass-fed cows that may provide enough protein to help build up body strength and skeletal muscles.
The best part about this protein shake is the lack of artificial sweeteners since it uses stevia to give a mildly sweet taste. It's also leaner than most protein powders available on the market.
It has made a big difference during and after my workouts. I've had more energy, been able to lift heavier weights, and my recovery has improved after using it for three weeks.
The only downside I would mention is that you can’t get this protein shake as an unflavored option to mix with food products.
- Calories : 120
- Protein : 28g
- Carbs : 2g
- Fat : 0g
- Highest protein content at 28g per serving to combat sarcopenia
- Contains no artificial additives to preserve the gut health of elderly
- Low-carb and fat option to favor power over fats
- Sourced from grass-fed cows for higher protein quality and digestibility to counteract declining absorption rates with age
- Not available as an unflavored option
Get 10% off using coupon code: TOTALSHAPE
2 - Ritual Essential Protein Daily Shake 50+
Ritual has long been in the game of offering different supplements for every stage of life, including the golden years, and the Essential Protein Daily Shake 50+ is one that certainly impresses many consumers.
This protein shake is designed to deliver key nutrients that help support the nutritional needs of individuals over the age of 50.
It contains high levels of calcium HMB for bone and lean mass maintenance, brain-boosting choline, and organic pea protein for improved muscle building and growth [1,2,3]. Each serving also provides a complete amino acid profile.
This Informed-Sport Certified shake has a clean and transparent vegan-friendly formula free of sugar, soy, gluten, and artificial components.
I didn't encounter any problems with digestion while using this product. More importantly, I noticed a decrease in fatigue and muscle soreness.
- Calories : 120
- Protein : 20g
- Carbs : 5g
- Fat : 2g
- Contains high levels of calcium HMB
- Supports brain, bone, and muscle healthcare
- Complete amino acid profile alongside macronutrient and vitamin content
- Only comes in a vanilla flavor
3 - Ladder Whey Protein
The Whey Protein by Ladder is another protein powder that I would wholeheartedly recommend for seniors seeking quality and nutritional value.
This soy-free protein powder contains the optimal amount of essential amino acids and branched-chain amino acids that the body needs to fully repair.
It also provides a minimum of 90% pure absorbable and digestible protein and only less than 1% lactose, which makes Ladder a good choice for people with lactose intolerance or milk allergy.
It also contains a combination of milk protein to give you a mix of fast and slow proteins for digestion. Probiotics help too with amino acid absorption .
I began noticing improvement in my recovery upon using this product. The all-natural ingredients provide a refreshing and energizing sensation, creating the perfect feeling after a workout.
- Calories : 130
- Protein : 26g
- Carbs : 6g
- Fat : 1g
- Soy-free milk protein
- NSF certified
- Contains Extra vitamins and probiotics
- Ingredients are all-natural
- Contains sugar - may not be good if you’re cutting on carbohydrates
The best part about thes protein shakes is that it comes in different flavors for those who are picky regarding tastes.
4 - Opportuniteas Grass-Fed Whey Isolate
Another grass-fed protein powder that my dietitian recommended for its exceptional quality is Opportuniteas.
These protein shakes may be a healthy choice to make due to the fact that it’s low in carbs and cholesterol, which may also help older adults to lose some bodyweight.
I purchased the coffee-flavored option, and it provided me with a boost after my workout and also kept me feeling full, leading to better sleep. The sweetness is just right, and it was gentle on my stomach.
- Calories : 114
- Protein : 27g
- Carbs : 8g
- Fat : 1g
- 27 g of whey protein each serving
- Low in carbs, sugar, and cholesterol for healthier protein consumption
- Positive reports that it mixes easily with no aftertaste
- Uses milk from Wisconsin grass-fed cows for higher quality
- Currently not available in flavored options
5 - Ensure Original Nutrition Protein Powder
For some seniors, the high doses of regular exercise and nutrition supplements may be a bit high.
This is where Ensure may fill a need by providing 8 grams for every serving.
The reason many people choose it, though, is down to the long list of important vitamins and minerals on the content label.
Experimenting with this protein powder proved highly beneficial in increasing my strength and energy levels, and I experienced minimal to no digestive concerns.
- Calories : 250
- Protein : 9g
- Carbs : 34g
- Fat : 9g
- 8 grams of protein for every serving
- Contains a broad range of minerals and vitamins
- Claims to mix easily with water or milk
- Many positive reviews on the vanilla flavors
- A little high in sugar which may impact blood glucose levels
While it’s suitable for adults of any age, you should be aware that these protein shakes are a bit high in sugar.
6 - Isopure Zero Carb Protein Powder
This Isopure product has one of the largest ranges of flavors I could find. But the main benefits of this protein powder is it being low in calories and having no carbs.
These protein shakes also come with added minerals and vitamins, including calcium and B12. These provide potential benefits for body strength and bone density, which has been shown in a clinical study .
I've observed a notable change in how my muscles recover following workouts, and it has also been effective in curbing my cravings.
- Calories : 110
- Protein : 25g
- Carbs : 0g
- Fat : 0.5g
- 25g of whey protein powder per serving
- Provides vitamins and minerals to supplement your diet
- Zero carb option makes it easier to plan a diet
- Available in a good selection of flavors
- Some reviews say it’s not the easiest to mix and may require blending
One thing to highlight, though, is that some people have found it a little bit difficult to mix in a shaker.
7 - Pure Whey Grass-Fed Whey Protein Powder
Pure Whey is a product I have used myself, and it’s suitable for adults of all ages.
There are plenty of reviews that it mixes easily and has quite a pleasant taste to it, which means you could mix it with other foods.
I believe it significantly aided in speeding up my recovery time. The downside here is that it’s a bit high in saturated fat, which may not suit all diets.
- Calories : 130
- Protein : 23g
- Carbs : 3g
- Fat : 2.5g
- 23g of whey protein powder per serving
- The powder seems to mix easily, and flavors taste natural
- Sourced from grass-fed cows for better nutritional content
- Available in a large 5 lbs tub
- Keep in mind that it’s a bit high in saturated fat
Why Do Elderly People Need More Protein?
Elderly people need more protein because the body becomes less effective at absorbing protein as it ages. This may often lead to muscle wasting and bone density issues.
While exercise continues to be a key method for maintaining muscle mass and function as we grow older, protein intake is a significant way to address sarcopenia .
Many things in our bodies slow down as we grow older, and one thing seniors need to be aware of is that their digestion may not be as effective .
I did find one particularly interesting study that revealed a lot more details about how the human body becomes less effective when it comes to absorbing many nutritionally important substances, including protein shakes . You can opt for a recommended casein protein powder as it's slow-digesting, allowing you to have a better quality of life .
As humans age, the body goes through a very natural process, which results in some level of muscle mass loss . This may lead to diminished muscles and other health issues, but there are plenty of things you could do to counteract it through the best protein shakes for muscle gains.
More regular forms of exercise may help to keep your muscles active enough to trigger repair and regeneration.
But in order to keep the muscles healthy, seniors have to ensure they are getting the full range of amino acids. It’s as important for seniors as it is for bodybuilders trying to build up strength and lean muscle mass.
Due to the lower rate of protein absorption, seniors may also find that it contributes to reduced bone health. One study, in particular, found that seniors may need considerably more protein to avoid loss of bone strength . Sometimes, the easiest way to meet the demand is through protein powders and dietary supplements.
As protein powders may also help with weight loss in the seniors and elderly population, this may also reduce the amount of strain on bones and joints .
As my dietitian said to me, the benefits of taking more protein on a day to day basis may be significant enough to provide quite an improvement in overall health, especially for seniors.
But are all supplements suitable?
Optimal protein works out to be about 15 to 25 percent of your daily calories, over a day, including 20 to 30 grams per meal and 12 to 15 grams per snack.
- Kim Hayes, Health Writer
What To Find the Best Protein Powder For Seniors?
To find the best protein powder for seniors, it's crucial to choose a product that includes essential amino acids, vitamins, and minerals.
Essential Amino Acids
Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, and the essential ones have to be taken in through your food as the body cannot produce them. Without these, your muscles will not have all the macronutrients necessary to repair and build up strength. The lack of essential amino acids as you get older may lead to loss in muscle mass .
That’s why I generally recommend that seniors opt for whey protein concentrate, as it may provide the broadest range of essential amino acids in the right concentration.
Even before you get to an elderly age, vitamins are an essential part of your health. But as you grow older, it may take your body more time to absorb vitamins, so you may want to consider getting a regular boost through the best protein powder . Otherwise, your body might deteriorate faster, making you look disheveled and older than your current age.
The most crucial mineral for seniors is calcium, as bones are heavily reliant on it. But as you get older, your bones become less effective at processing calcium, so you may need to ensure that your protein intake is increased .
Some of the protein powders above contain added calcium, which may help older adults to retain bone density over time.
Related Article: Best Protein Powder For Kids
Protein Consumption Tips For Elderly (What to Avoid
When choosing protein powders for elderly people, you would want to avoid those with calories and saturated fat. Here’s why.
Every gram of protein has about 4 calories. But many protein powders also contain fillers and carbs like sugar. These then significantly add to the number of calories, which may have a negative effect on blood sugar levels and possibly lead to weight gain.
These negative results could lead to serious issues for the elderly, especially those with blood pressure and other cardiovascular issues, as well as diabetics looking to gain muscle mass.
One advantage of pure protein powders is that they don’t contain any fat. But saturated fat has to be removed in the manufacturing process, and many companies tend to skip this step.
Read more about this in our article: How to Choose Protein Powder?
What's The Best Way For Elderly People To Use Protein Powder?
The best way for elderly people to use quality whey protein powder is to make it a daily habit to drink a protein shake. You can mix your protein powder with few other ingredients to make it more delicious.
Protein shakes are typically easier to drink and can be paired with your usual diet. You can set a time every day either with your breakfast or after an exercise routine.
If you do some exercises every day, then this may be the most suitable time, especially after some more intense physical activity.
The more strain you put on your muscle tissue, the more this may stimulate they growth, especially with dietary protein.
It doesn’t have to be a full-on, high-intensity workout session at the gym. Any form of physical exercise may trigger the necessary processes that could help to maintain strength, such as protein synthesis.
Is Protein Powder Safe for Elderly?
Protein powder is safe for the elderly. However, it's essential to note that factors beyond age, such as physical activity levels, can influence the required protein intake. Older adults have distinct nutritional requirements compared to other age groups.
What is the Best Protein for Elderly People to Gain Weight?
Whey Protein is the best protein powder for elderly people to gain weight. Cheese and yogurt items are examples of two types of foods rich in whey protein.
Our #1 Protein Powder for Elderly & Seniors
Many study results have shown the direct impact of increased protein intake on lean muscle mass and bone density of the older population.
With reduced strength and mobility being a concern for many seniors, it’s important to get the right combination of nutrition and physical exercise, such as resistance training and strength training.
Based on my research and work with my dietitian, I recommend trying out Transparent Labs.
It delivers a high dose of whey protein while reducing calories from carbs practically to zero. Many of my older clients reported it helps with planning meals to avoid messing up a diet, and none of them had any digestive issues. Consider food sources rich in dietary fiber, iron, zinc, vitamin C, and vitamin D.
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