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The Lifelong Benefits of Protein Consumption: Nourishing Your Body at Every Stage

Updated: Apr 15

Protein is often acclaimed as the building block of life, and rightfully so- our bodies contain around 15-20% protein, which is around 12kg in a 70kg person's body. It plays a crucial role in maintaining and repairing our tissues, supporting immune function, and serving as a fundamental component of various metabolic processes. From infancy to our golden years, protein consumption remains a vital aspect of a healthy and thriving human body. In the below article I cover the importance of protein consumption throughout the different stages of our lives, give you guidance how much protein is recommended to consume at different ages and also share with you a list of foods that provide the necessary amount of protein.

Importance of protein consumption in different stages of life

Photo source: Unsplash

Infancy and Childhood: Building the Foundation

During infancy and childhood, protein is indispensable for growth and development. It contributes to the formation of organs, tissues, and muscles, laying the foundation for a robust physiological structure. Breast milk, considered nature's perfect food for infants, is rich in proteins, offering optimal nourishment during the crucial early couple of years and covers baby's protein needs in first 6 months.

Adolescence: Fuelling Growth Spurts and Development

As teenagers experience growth spurts and undergo significant physical changes, protein becomes even more critical. It supports the development of lean muscle mass, aids in bone density formation, and assists in hormonal balance. Adolescents engaged in sports or physical activities particularly benefit from adequate protein intake, enhancing performance and recovery.

Adulthood: Sustaining Health and Functionality

In adulthood, protein continues to play a pivotal role in maintaining overall health and functionality. It supports muscle maintenance and repair, helps regulate hormones, and contributes to a healthy immune system. For individuals leading active lifestyles or engaging in regular exercise, protein is essential for muscle recovery and the prevention of age-related muscle loss.

Pregnancy and Lactation: Meeting Increased Demands

During pregnancy, the body's protein requirements increase significantly to support the growth of the developing fetus and the changes occurring in the mother's body. Adequate protein intake during this period is crucial for the healthy development of the baby's organs, muscles, and tissues. Lactating mothers also benefit from sustained protein consumption, ensuring the production of high-quality breast milk.

Middle Age: Supporting Weight Management and Vital Functions

As individuals enter middle age, maintaining a balance of macronutrients, including protein, becomes essential for overall well-being. Protein can play a role in weight management by promoting a feeling of fullness and supporting the preservation of lean muscle mass. Additionally, it aids in the repair of tissues and supports vital functions, helping individuals stay active and energetic.

Older Adults: Preserving Muscle Mass and Preventing Frailty

In the elderly, protein becomes a key player in preventing muscle loss and frailty, common challenges associated with aging. A sufficient intake of high-quality protein can contribute to maintaining muscle mass, strength, and functionality, ultimately enhancing the quality of life in the later years.

How much protein does your body need every day?

  • Babies up till 6 months need around 2.2g per kg

  • 6-12 month old babies need around 1.6g per kg

  • 1 year to 1.9 years toddlers need 10-15% of their daily energy from protein

  • 2-18 year old children need 10-20% of their daily energy from protein

  • Grownups (18+) who have sedentary lifestyle, need 0.8-1g of protein per kg, so if you are someone weighing 65kg, you need 52g-65g of protein per day.

  • Grownups who are regularly engaged with endurance sports, need 1.2-1.6g of protein per kg

  • Grownups who are regularly engaged with speed and strength needed sports, need 1.3-2g per kg

  • 50+ years old should make sure they get minimum 1.2g of protein per kg- this is because after around the age of 40 we are starting to loose muscle gradually with every decade

It's important also not to over consume protein on a regular basis, as it can tax the liver and the kidneys as well as cause gout and allergies.

It is also important to distribute protein consumption throughout the day between different meals and to consume various proteins from both animal and plant sources. It's good to know that animal proteins contain all nine essential amino acids that our bodies need and cannot produce on their own. Therefore, we must obtain them through food. When consuming plant-based foods, it is necessary to be aware and consume several different proteins to obtain the necessary amino acids from the diet. For example, good plant-based protein sources that contain most essential amino acids include quinoa, tofu, tempeh, edamame, amaranth, buckwheat, Ezekiel bread, spirulina, hemp seeds, chia seeds, nutritional yeast, rice combined with beans, etc.

20-25g of animal based protein is in:

  • 3 eggs (150g)

  • 100g meat

  • 80g of chicken

  • 100g of fish

  • 5-6 medium prawns (90g)

  • Half a can of canned tuna (100g)

  • 4 slices of low-fat sliced cheese (80g)

  • 140g of cottage cheese

  • 1 cup of Greek yoghurt

  • 200g of skyr yoghurt

  • 2 pieces of canned sardines

  • etc.

20-25g of plant based protein is in:

  • 3/4 cup (120g) of cooked pulses (peas, beans and lentils)

  • 240g of tofu

  • 4 pieces of tempeh (120g)

  • 200g of edamame

  • 3-4 slices of rye bread

  • 200g of wholegrain

  • 100g of nuts

  • 5 tbsp of peanut butter

  • 2/3 cups of nutritional yeast

  • etc.

Protein is not just a nutrient; it's a lifelong ally for optimal health and well-being. From the early stages of life through adulthood and into the golden years, adequate protein consumption is vital for growth, development, maintenance, and repair of the human body. Whether you're a parent ensuring your child's healthy development, an athlete optimising performance, or an older adult aiming to preserve vitality, making protein a consistent part of your diet is an investment in your lifelong health.

If you are looking for a nutritional coaching how to improve and balance your diet, don't hesitate to reach out to me for advice at


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