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Strength Training and Protein Intake

Updated: Oct 2, 2023

Strength training (also called Resistance Training) has a ton of benefits! To make the most of these, it's important to understand the connection between strength training and protein intake…

When you strength train, you are stressing your muscles in a good way. This stress causes “microtrauma” to your muscles which stimulates the process of repair and rebuilding that results in stronger muscles. This repair and rebuilding process requires adequate supplies of the amino acids found in protein-rich foods to be readily available in your bloodstream.

Aging, protein assimilation and why the current RDA for protein intake just doesn’t cut it!

The current recommended daily allowance (RDA) of protein is .4 grams per pound of body weight. However because older adults do not absorb protein as well as younger adults, those over 50 who engage in strength training need at least 25% more protein (or .5 grams of protein per pound of body weight) to maintain and at least 50% more protein (or .6 grams of protein per pound of body weight) to increase muscle mass. In fact, researchers recommend women over 50 to increase their protein intake to .6-.7 grams of protein per pound of body weight. This is 50-70% more than the RDA! (This information is summarized in the table below.)

Chart of recommended daily protein intake for people over 50
Recommended daily protein intake for people over 50

Strength Training and Protein Intake: Getting adequate protein in your diet...

Getting enough protein requires a little bit of label-reading when you're food shopping. Here's a printable sheet of the protein content in common protein-rich food sources.

Protein bars are quick and easy, just be sure to check the amount of sugar in them. I usually look for bars that have about 6 grams of sugar or less. Protein shakes are another great option that can give you about 20 grams of protein in a single serving. My current favorite is Orgain Simple Plant Protein Powder - they have chocolate and vanilla. I’ve included my Every-Day Smoothie recipe below.

It’s best to spread your protein intake out throughout the day rather than having it all in one meal. In addition, there is some evidence that following up your strength training session with a combined carbohydrate/high-protein snack or meal may increase muscle mass. (Promising initial studies suggest that this post workout snack may also improve bone density as well.)

I hope this demystifies the confusion about protein intake for strength training.

Karin's Every-day Smoothie Recipe

¾ cup milk (dairy or non-dairy)

¾ cup plain kefir

1 (or more!) big handfuls of shredded or baby kale

1 banana (optional)

1 serving protein powder (according to manufacturer)

1 cup frozen fruit (your choice!)

Add ingredients to blender or smoothie maker in order above. Blend until smooth! Enjoy!

Note: This is a forgiving recipe. Experiment with different frozen fruits and play with the ratios of liquid-to-frozen ingredients until you find a consistency you like

Want a personal strength training program customize just for you? Contact Karin to book a private strength training session in Monmouth County, NJ.

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