Objective:Investigate protein intake patterns over the day and their association with total protein intake in older adults.Design:Cross-sectional study utilising the dietary data collected through two non-consecutive, dietary record-assisted 24-h recalls. Days with low protein intake (n 290) were defined using the RDA (<0·8 g protein/kg adjusted BW/d). For each day, the amount and proportion of protein ingested at every hour of the day and during morning, mid-day and evening hours was calculated. Amounts and proportions were compared between low and high protein intake days and related to total protein intake and risk of low protein intake.Setting:Community.Participants:739 Dutch community-dwelling adults ≥70 years.Results:The mean protein intake was 76·3 (sd 0·7) g/d. At each hour of the day, the amount of protein ingested was higher on days with a high protein intake than on days with a low protein intake and associated with a higher total protein intake. The proportion of protein ingested during morning hours was higher (22 v. 17 %, P < 0·0001) on days with a low protein intake, and a higher proportion of protein ingested during morning hours was associated with a lower total protein intake (P < 0·0001) and a higher odds of low protein intake (OR 1·04, 95 % CI 1·03, 1·06). For the proportion of protein intake during mid-day or evening hours, opposite but weaker associations were found.Conclusions:In this sample, timing of protein intake was associated with total protein intake. Additional studies need to clarify the importance of these findings to optimise protein intake.