Protein is an important nutrient and building block for the human body, without which building and repair of tissues would not be possible.
It also aids in making body chemicals, hormones, and enzymes among others.
Specifically, this building block helps build muscles, bones, skin, cartilage, and blood, so taking adequate amounts of protein or foods rich in the nutrient can promote muscle growth and help you maintain muscle mass.
If you thought protein is only good for younger folks who are trying to build muscle, you’ll be surprised to learn that seniors need muscles too.
This is because as we age, we tend to lose muscle mass, which is also why strength training workouts are good for seniors to stay healthy into their aging years.
One of the ways seniors can get more protein into their system is by adding protein drinks to their diet.
However, there are several factors to consider especially when it comes to giving seniors protein drinks, which we’ll share later in the buyer’s guide. Before we get to that, let’s explore why seniors need more protein, and then look at the best options for protein drinks for seniors you can get on the market.
Why Seniors Need A Protein-rich Diet
Protein is a foundational nutrient in the human body, which cells such as muscles, nails, skin, hair, bones, and internal organs too.
It’s also essential in healing, building, and repairing damaged cells and body tissue.
Specifically, you need proteins to heal from injuries, recover from illness or surgery, keep fluid levels in balance, maintain healthy vision, and balance your digestive enzymes and hormones.
Without protein in our bodies, it begins to break down bone strength and muscle mass. For seniors, they’re not able to use protein like younger folk do, which is why they need a protein-rich diet.
Such a diet can protect seniors from losing muscle that’s needed for everything they do. Strong muscles and bones allow seniors to move, walk, do some light work, dance, or even play with their grandkids.
Simple tasks like getting out of the shower or pulling up their socks are also enhanced and made easier by strong, healthy muscles and bones.
As people age, muscle mass loss is common especially in the legs, but without strength, it’s easy to get weak, get tremors, or feel tired. You also become more susceptible to falls and injuries.
Aging uses up your body’s reserves, which is why you need a stronger diet rich in proteins and other nutrients to avoid becoming weak and frail.
Best Protein Drinks For Seniors
Ensure is a leading, doctor-recommended health brand that offers protein shakes – both low and high in sugar – but this particular one keeps the sugar content low. It focuses on protein and is designed for seniors who want to lose some weight or promote muscle building. It contains 30 grams of protein and 1 gram of sugar.
It’s also designed for energy and strength, with its 23 minerals and vitamins, plus great taste so you can enjoy your drink while getting high-quality protein and antioxidants. It’s also suitable for lactose intolerance and it’s gluten-free.
This protein drink offers 30 grams of high-quality protein, 24 vitamins and minerals, and 160 calories, so you can get fully balanced nutrition in one package.
You can take it as a snack or mini-meal and boost your energy thanks to the 3-in-1 active nutrition you draw from it.
This ensures you get protein for muscle health, Vitamin D, Calcium, and more to support bone health, plus B vitamins for an energy boost.
Boost brand produces nutritional drinks that have no sweeteners, artificial colors, and are both non-GMO, soy, and gluten-free.
If you have a condition where you need to stay low on the sugar and high on the protein, this protein drink works perfectly.
This nutritional protein drink by Glucerna focuses on managing your blood sugar, as much as it contains 10 grams of protein and 4 grams of sugar. Its flavors include butter pecan, chocolate, strawberry, vanilla, and chocolate caramel.
Its product range isn’t as wide as Ensure and Boost, but it’s still popular and with good reviews.
The shakes have CarbSteady, a unique blend of slow-release carbohydrates so you don’t experience blood sugar spikes, and you can have it as a snack or meal replacement.
The product is suitable for lactose intolerant people and is gluten-free. If you have galactosemia though, you shouldn’t consume this drink.
This is another product by Ensure that’s a high protein drink in the form of a shake, but unlike the first product, it offers 4 grams of sugar and 16 grams of protein with each serving.
This just means the shake is healthy but tastes a little better than the one with less sugar.
Like other Ensure protein shakes, this too is gluten-free and suitable for lactose intolerance. It also delivers energy and strength in a delicious, great-tasting blend of protein and other nutrients.
You can get it in other flavors too including vanilla, creamy caramel, and strawberry.
Premier is another brand that manufactures protein shakes among other health products.
It contains milk proteins, which combine whey and casein proteins that help you sustain energy for a longer period of time. It also helps fuel muscles quickly and for more hours to help support your dietary and protein intake goals.
Each of its protein shakes contains 30 grams of protein with all the important amino acids, 1 gram of sugar, 160 calories, low fat, 5 grams of carbs, and 24 minerals and vitamins.
It’s an award-winning ready-to-drink protein beverage and possesses the American Master of Taste Gold Medal for superior tasting protein beverages consistently from 2015-2017.
The product is available in smooth and creamy chocolate, vanilla, and strawberries & cream flavors, which you can enjoy as a satisfying snack, meal replacement, or workout fuel.
You can also enjoy it with your favorite fruits and veggies for a rich and delicious smoothie, or add it to oatmeal or your breakfast cereal.
It doesn’t contain artificial colors, soy, and is kosher and gluten-free.
For elderly women, this Boost Women protein drink offers customized nutrition with iodine and selenium for normal thyroid functioning, vitamin D and calcium for strong bone support, plus biotin and zinc for better hair and skin health.
It packs 180 nutrient calories, 15 grams of high-quality protein, 24 minerals, and vitamins, all with the aim of delivering a personalized nutritional drink for women.
It also supports normal energy by giving your body vitamins, proteins, and calories. This way, you enhance your nutrition, and still enjoy the delicious drink in flavors like vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry.
This protein drink is gluten-free and doesn’t have any artificial colors.
Ensure protein drinks we’ve seen on this list, but it’s adequate for different situations.
It packs up to 70 calories, and the fact that it doesn’t have any sugar, it has 60 percent fewer calories than the original Ensure protein shakes. It also helps you fill nutrition gaps to help balance your diet, with protein and antioxidants all packed in a great tasting drink.
The main ingredient is soy though, so if you have issues with that, then you can try the other protein drinks. It can replace a meal, so you can drink one instead of your breakfast or lunch, and still enjoy a sufficient energy boost, plus a bonus from the vitamins.
This nutritional protein drink comes with Glucose Control, which is Boost’s patented blend of protein and carbohydrates for managing blood glucose levels. It contains 16 grams of protein, fat, and 1 carbohydrate as part of a balanced diet.
If you have a busy schedule, you can take this protein drink as a snack or convenient mini-meal and get balanced nutrition.
It comes in delicious flavors too: chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry.
With its nutritionally balanced formula, Boost Glucose Control ensures your blood sugar levels are managed as part of the healthy diet you’re on.
This special formulation is meant for people with type-2 diabetes to manage their blood sugar levels, but you can also take it when you want extra protein without much sugar or balanced calories for everyday living.
This is a well-known protein drink that helps seniors by supporting them through their dietary journey while helping them maintain good health at optimal levels. Its formula is created through a fermentation technique during which bioactive peptides get released.
It’s gluten-free and doesn’t contain any artificial flavors, stimulants, or other preservatives. When consumed regularly, you may see significant results in your general well-being and health.
It contains 180 calories, 27 grams, and 15 total carbohydrates per serving.
When taken in the morning, it leaves you feeling satisfied and fuller for longer, plus it lowers your cravings and regulates blood sugar levels.
Several essential nutrients your body needs are packed into this protein drink, plus amino acids and enzymes for better digestive function. It also boosts metabolism so you can burn calories faster, and shed fat without losing muscle mass.
Not only is it a convenient snack, but it’s also a delicious beverage that energizes you, and gives you a high-quality source of protein on the go.
You can consume it by taking a can each day as a healthy snack, but once you open it, remember to refrigerate it.
Shake it gently before consuming, and serve chilled if you prefer.
It contains 170 calories, 15 calories from fat, with 1.5 grams total fat and 4 grams of carbohydrates. In terms of high-quality protein, each can packs 35 grams essential for a nutritious diet.
Pure Protein packs plenty of calcium in this drink too, which is well suited for seniors so their bones can remain strong and healthy. It’s also free of sugar, making it great for people with diabetes, or if you prefer a low-carb lifestyle.
There are other flavors like Cookies & Cream or Banana Cream if you prefer that over Frosty Chocolate, which is the company’s most popular variety.
How Protein Drinks Help Seniors
There are many types of nutrition drinks you can take as a meal replacement or snack, which can supplement your health.
For protein nutrition drinks though, these are meant to offer nutrients that help people with an active lifestyle, or that want to build and maintain their muscle mass.
If you want to keep a low-calorie diet, these drinks are good to have. However, there’s more you need to learn when it comes to giving protein drinks to seniors.
Generally speaking, the protein comprises amino acid chains that are the building blocks of the nutrient. Plus, protein comes in two types: whey and casein.
Whey is what you get from the transformation of cow’s milk to cheese. It’s the best protein source because of its strong source of branched-chain amino acids. These help repair torn muscle tissue and build new ones.
This type of protein is found in protein powder, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only source of protein. Most of the protein you need comes from meats, especially fish, which deliver essential vitamins and nutrients.
Protein drinks are best taken after exercise as your body naturally begins to heal its muscles after a workout or physical exercise.
How To Correctly Use Protein Drinks For Seniors
Protein drinks are among a body of nutrition drinks all of which offer several significant benefits to the user’s body if used correctly. Before you pick one up for yourself or the senior person living with you, it’s important to check the label to determine its proper use.
Some nutrition drinks are meant to offer total nutrition as a meal replacement, while others are to be taken alongside other food, which means they’re just supplements.
Ideally, you shouldn’t consume more than one protein drink each day unless your doctor otherwise directs you to, or the label on the product suggests so. Not all protein and nutrition drinks are meal replacements though.
Sometimes the senior person you live with or manage, or if you’re the senior/elderly person reading this, you may find that you don’t have the appetite for food and you’ve lost a lot of weight.
This is a common and dangerous problem as it leads to undernutrition, which eventually becomes malnourishment and decreases your body mass index. The end result is higher mortality rates or frailty.
It’s important to take the health of senior people seriously because it’s not just enough to give them a can of protein drink as these don’t replace properly balanced meals. They act as a supplement to the actual food they eat.
If you want to use or give protein shakes to senior people, make sure you serve them between meals, or as a supplement or snack just to add calories and protein nutrients to their diet. Don’t use it as a complete meal replacement.
Nutrition Requirements for Seniors
A low-calorie, low-fat diet is the best way to maintain a healthy weight. For seniors though, the opposite is usually recommended, especially if they’re frail or experiencing weight loss.
Eating three square meals each day can overwhelm elderly people, but you can encourage them to eat more in smaller portions or snacks even before they go to sleep, as these are less intimidating for them.
Nutrition drinks like protein shakes or drinks can also interact with any medications they’re taking. This is because they tend to contain high minerals and vitamins that can cause dangerous interactions with prescription meds.
Most older individuals are probably already taking vitamins and supplements too, and this can be a problem on its own, as it may produce dangerous adverse effects that could damage their organs and systems.
If you’re a senior person or you’re reading this for the sake of helping the senior people in your life who need a protein boost, any of the 10 protein drinks listed above can help.
If you have symptoms like difficulty in swallowing whole foods, lack the motivation to prepare a complex meal, or just to change your nutritional needs, or you feel extreme fatigue, protein drinks will come handy.
They help by offering the elements that maintain a properly functioning and healthy body. Seniors need an eating plan that’s rich in nutrients such as minerals, vitamins, calcium, protein, and healthy fat.
All these ten nutritional protein drinks can offer those and more essential elements, some even replace a whole meal, while others can just be taken as a snack.