9 Great Protein (and Flavor) Hacks for Seniors’ Muscle Health

Senior Care Corner® is a sponsored blog partner of Ensure® but the opinions in this article are ours alone. Please see below for additional disclosures.

Our muscles need our attention as we get older so that caregivers and seniors can stay active and strong.

Family caregivers who are balancing caring for older adults, their own children, a job, and their own health may be falling short on crucial building blocks in their diet to keep their muscles strong, just like their senior loved ones.

Getting enough essential nutrition in our food is important for optimal quality of life for everyone.

Why Protein is Crucial

Family caregivers, especially sandwich generation carers, need nutrition as much as the senior loved ones for whom they care so they can accomplish all the activities on their daily to-do lists.

Protein provides the foundation of our muscles. Eating enough protein every day is something we can’t afford to overlook in the bustle of our busy life.

Protein is used by our bodies for a variety of functions in addition to building and repairing muscles. Every cell in the body contains protein. It is needed for blood, healthy bones, maintaining hormone levels, energy, forming antibodies to fight infection as part of our immune system, comprising collagen, and our hair and skin.

The foods we choose should give our bodies all the protein they need. We must pay attention to our choices to be sure we are filling all the gaps.

Protein In Our Diet

There are many good sources of protein that family caregivers should be including in their and their senior loved ones’ diets such as:

  • Meat, chicken, fish and seafood
  • Eggs
  • Dairy – milk, cheese, yogurt
  • Nuts, seeds and beans
  • Soy

Our senior loved ones don’t always include protein in each meal or enough of these foods in their daily meals. Caregivers with many time pressures may also opt for meals that aren’t high in protein, leaving them falling short of their needs.

Snacks Help Fill the Gaps

Did you know that 94% of us eat a snack at least once a day?

The nutritional quality of snack foods is especially important to avoid falling short of adequate nourishment.

Caregivers want their snacks to sustain them until their next meal. They search for something that both tastes good and is convenient for themselves and their seniors.

Older adults tend to cut back on their meal intake because they are unable to cook or don’t desire to cook for themselves, feel that their budget limits their food choices, have difficulty chewing meats, or simply get into a habit of selecting foods that are not nourishing. Unfortunately, this makes it difficult for older adults to eat 25 to 30 grams of high-quality protein per meal necessary for optimal muscle protein synthesis.

Family caregivers may find that they just don’t have time to prepare or eat a healthy meal and need a nourishing snack to see them through their busy day.

21% of Americans skip breakfast, which could be a real obstacle for family caregivers to get all the nutrients needed by the end of the day.

As a great example of a quick, beneficial snack day or night, you might grab a container of your favorite flavor of Ensure High Protein. Sipping milk chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry when you are short for time and on-the-go is an easy way to get essential nutrition.

Protein Hacks That Add Nutrition and Flavor

A nutritional supplement (sometimes called a meal replacement) is an easy hack to add much needed protein and nutrients to your daily diet.

Sometimes senior adults may find drinking a supplement challenging. Perhaps they have tried one of the many options in the past and need a little encouragement to realize the nutritional benefits a shake can give them throughout the day to help renew their muscle strength and supply essential vitamins and minerals. In addition to adding protein, we also recommend keeping your blood glucose levels stable. If you’re looking to buy a glocumeter, here’s our list of top glucometers available online right now.

Some younger adults may think supplements are only for the older crowd or the senior for whom they care. In fact, the natural process of progressive muscle loss begins for many of us after age 40.

Here are some hacks to help you and your senior incorporate muscle building protein into your daily routine:

  1. Blend fruit into your favorite flavor nutrition shake to make a creamy, fruit smoothie. Try a ripe banana or fruits that may be getting past their prime but not yet ready to toss. This is a great way to keep from wasting precious fruits, stretch your food budget and create something truly delicious and refreshing (not to mention nutrition building!).
  2. Try a veggie twist with your nutrition shake — blenderize a carrot into a smooth consistency (or use a juicer with additional veggies such as fresh beets, cucumbers, red peppers, green leafy veggies, zucchini and others) and mix it into a vanilla shake. This is a surprising treat for you or your senior loved one and adds nutrients that may not ordinarily be eaten.
  3. Add the leftover morning coffee from the pot into a shake (vanilla and chocolate flavor both work well) to create your own coffee milkshake! It only takes a few ounces of coffee to add a burst of flavor!
  4. Add a teaspoon (or more to taste) of one of the great flavorings in your spice rack. You can find many flavors in your supermarket!
  5. Stir one of your ice cream toppings from your fridge into your shake to create a taste sensation. How about caramel, strawberry or a dark chocolate syrup – a squirt goes a long way to punch up the flavor to sweeten the nutrition.
  6. Add ¼ cup of orange juice to a vanilla Ensure High Protein to create your own one of a kind creamsicle in a glass! Use your favorite glass for an extra special treat!
  7. You can make a different shake every day of the year! Mix your shake with ingredients you have on hand, including frozen fruits, canned fruit, syrups, any flavor ice cream, candy pieces, peanut butter, chopped nuts, or whatever pleases you. Consider the endless possibilities! The nuts and nut butter will really help punch up the protein!
  8. Ever wonder if you would enjoy a savory shake? How about vanilla shake mixed with greens, fresh herbs like dill or parsley or cilantro, and sea salt or salted nuts? The imagination can be unleashed on these savory flavors to truly spice up your day!
  9. Overnight oats made with Ensure High Protein – now that is a convenient hack to start the day off right. Add in fruit in season, maple syrup, brown sugar or other flavorings like almond syrup!

Building muscle and staying healthy never tasted so good!

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4 thoughts on “9 Great Protein (and Flavor) Hacks for Seniors’ Muscle Health”

    • Thanks Rivka, it is true that beans and other plant based forms of protein are good choices, but not the only ones to achieve adequate levels of protein in the diet. Eating a wide variety of foods including plants is important, especially for seniors, to meet their nutritional needs.

  1. I wish there was ensure without cream in it -the skin reactions are no fun. It’s a life saver meal replacement but a little to rich on the cream.

    • Thanks Jen, Ensure High Protein would be a good meal replacement especially at times. However, seniors should always eat a good meal and use these as supplements to their daily diet especially when gaps in protein and vitamins occur. You should know that Ensure products are lactose free and contain milk/soy proteins. For more information on their contents and nutritional benefits you can check out their website.

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