Can You Build Muscle after 50 Using Protein Powder? Women Getting the Best Results

You can build muscle after you are 50 years old!

It’s true that we lose our muscle mass as we age. But, when we put our muscles to work, strength is gained, muscle is built, and our physique improves. 

In this blog, you will learn recommendations for protein intake and how older women do in comparison. You will also find tips on consuming more protein and what activities can help you build muscle.

How can you build muscle after 50?

No matter your age, once you continuously work your muscles, they will grow and support you. Regular resistance training 2-3 days per week will help you maintain/develop your lean body mass. Increasing difficulty as you become stronger, with heavier weights or tighter resistance bands keeps you at your best.

Why do you want to build muscle after 50?

Improved posture

Emotional well being

More energy


Two ways to build muscles after 50

Building muscle is a two-step process for women. Exercise furnishes our muscles with a reason to grow. Muscles also need proper nourishment to produce new fibers. A combination of resistance training and nutrition is necessary to develop muscle tissue.   

  • Step one involves increasing activity. Frequently moving your body to exercise is helpful for overall health. Still, resistance against our muscles is what contributes to muscle gain.
  • Step two includes a nourishing eating pattern. When we eat only protein or too many protein foods at a meal, the extra will be used for energy and not serve as our building blocks that contribute to muscle mass. An example of this would be grilled chicken wrapped in a lettuce leaf. This excessive consumption of protein without a well-balanced eating pattern to go along with it isn’t the answer.

Instead, it would be better to consume a meal or snack with a good source of carbs and protein like grilled chicken with brown rice, carrots, and broccoli. Also, after you complete a workout, enjoy a little carb/protein combo snack like a glass of milk (dairy, pea or soy) within one hour for better muscle-building power!

How much protein do you need?

There is continued discussion on how much protein women need. If we don’t eat enough of this vital nutrient, we will lose muscle. Protein is also necessary for all body tissues’ structure, growth, and repair. 

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) is the lowest recommended amount at 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight a day. But even with that small amount, women 60 and over fall short of protein intake. As we continue to grow older, we eat even less protein and continue to lose our muscle mass, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025.

If you can’t get enough by eating regular food, a protein powder supplement may help you. 

A systematic review showed that of 1863 participants who performed resistance exercise and were given a dietary protein supplement could maintain or build muscle mass. Supplementation beyond 1.6 grams (twice the RDA) of protein for every kilogram of body weight did not benefit further. 

In another review of 37 randomized controlled trials where the subjects were 65 and older, muscle strength was improved with resistance training. Yet, only a small number showed improvement with protein supplementation.

If you aren’t getting at least the RDA for protein each day, you may benefit from supplementation. By following this example, you can determine how much protein you need in grams. 

If you weigh 150 pounds, divide that number by 2.2, and you will get 68 kilograms. Since the RDA for protein is 0.8 grams for every kilogram, you will multiply 68 x 0.8 and get 54.5 grams. Thus, you will need 54.5 grams of protein per day.

(150 ÷ 2.2 = 68 kilograms x 0.8 = 54.5 grams)

If eating enough protein gets daunting, protein powder can come in handy.

When you can’t get enough protein from foods

There are plant and animal-based protein options for you to choose from: meats, poultry, fish, eggs, beans, nuts, seeds, dairy, soy and pea milk, cheese, yogurt, whole grains, and soy foods like tofu and tempeh. You may still find that you come short of meeting your protein intake goals occasionally. 

This is where powders may help you. Protein powders can be added to soft foods like soups, mashed potatoes, casseroles, and smoothies. There are several from which you can choose. One of the simplest and most cost-effective protein powders is non-fat dry milk (NFDM). 

Two tablespoons of NFDM offer 

33 Calories

3 grams protein

115 mg calcium

It can be added to things like bread dough and batters, macaroni and cheese, and milk (add ⅓ c NFDM to 1 c milk for double-strength milk). 

You might enjoy nutritional yeast on various foods. It’s a nutritionally dense powder, rich in vitamin B12, that can be helpful if you are following a vegan eating pattern. It adds an unmistakably marvelous cheesy flavor in vegan macaroni and cheese, nut-based vegan cheese dip, or sprinkled on a baked potato! Four tablespoons provide 10 grams of protein! 

Other protein powders

You can choose from plant or animal-based protein powders. Even though plant proteins are not complete, they don’t have to be to furnish essential protein. Save this handy table as a quick home reference in choosing the best protein powder for you!

Once you determine how much protein you need for each day, track your food for about three days. Compare your protein intake with the recommendations and make adjustments as needed. 

Remember to build muscle you need enough protein and resistance activity to be your best!

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Stephanie Turkel is a registered dietitian nutritionist based in Texas. She has 30 plus years of experience in the nutrition field. She now takes her gained knowledge and shares it with you to explain science articles into easy-to-understand information.

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Grace Rivers, RDN, CDCES

Grace is a registered dietitian nutritionist residing in Texas. She has over 30 years of experience in nutrition. Grace loves translating science articles into easy-to-understand information for you.


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