Nutrition for the Active Adult, with Niki Strealy, RDN, LD

bone and joint health Jun 06, 2018
As a sports medicine orthopaedic surgeon, I work with athletes of many levels. One area that we don’t always get to touch on when focusing on injury is nutrition and its importance. This is where we rely heavily on our Registered Dietitian Nutritionists for solid advice. I’m honored to have Niki Strealy, RDN, LD of Strategic Nutrition talk to us about nutrition for the active adult. Not only is she a seasoned professional, she herself is a runner and a track coach. Who better to bring together nutrition and sports?

​Thanks, Niki, for being a part of my blog!

As a registered dietitian nutritionist, it’s my role to look at what clients eat and make recommendations. I am also a marathon runner and track coach; I know first-hand “If you don’t put fuel in the car it won’t go."
Calculating Protein Needs
How much protein do you need? It depends on a number of factors, including your gender, age, activity level, and genetics. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, active adults need 1.2-2.0 grams of protein per kilogram body weight per day. The lower range is for aerobic exercise, such as running, biking, and swimming, whereas the higher end of the range is for resistance exercise, such as weight lifting and strength training. 

To calculate how many grams of protein you need per day, first convert your weight in pounds (lbs) to kilograms (kg) by dividing by 2.2. 

Example: 150 lbs / 2.2 = 68.2 kg
Then, take your weight in kg and multiply by the estimated goal protein for your type of exercise and activity level.

Example: 68.2 kg x 1.4 grams protein per kg = 96 grams protein per day (runner, 25-30 miles per week)

Protein intake 
To be used by the body, it is best to distribute protein evenly across the day, rather than at one or two heavier meals. This is equivalent to about 20-40 grams per meal, 4-6 times per day. For the example above, it would be ~24 grams in 4 meals, or ~20 grams in 5 meals.

In addition, in the first 15-45 minutes after exercise, the body is able to restore its energy (glycogen) stores more efficiently. It is recommended to combine protein with carbohydrate in a recovery snack. Examples of recovery snacks include smoothies, chocolate milk, yogurt, small handful of nuts, and protein bars.

Confession: even as a registered dietitian, I’m not a big fan of counting calories. Calorie needs vary widely and counting them every day can be a big undertaking. Daily calorie estimates range from 1,600 to 2,400 calories per day for adult women and 2,000 to 3,000 calories per day for adult men.
However, if estimating your own calorie needs is of interest, here’s a handy chart to get you started:

​Other resources I recommend:​​​

Meet with a Professional
Registered dietitian nutritionists can create a nutrition plan for your personal nutrition needs and activity level. Find an expert near you at
- Niki Strealy, RDN, LD
Check out more of Niki’s work at her blog.

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