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Balanced protein intake can reduce age-related muscle loss

ANI | Updated: Mar 16, 2020 22:14 IST

Birmingham [UK], Mar 16 (ANI): Researchers at the University of Birmingham have found that eating more protein during breakfast or lunchtime could help older people maintain muscle mass with advancing age.
Just eating more protein is not enough, though - older people also need to spread that intake evenly across all their meals to ensure they maximise the benefits of protein for muscle mass.
Researchers in the School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Birmingham, studied the dietary intake of young, middle-aged and old-aged individuals with a particular focus on the amount, pattern and source of protein consumed.
The results showed that, while the majority of individuals across all three groups met or exceeded current national guidelines (RDA) for protein intake, the protein intake and distribution across daily meals and snacks were very varied.
The study involved 120 participants divided into three age groups. In the first, participants had an average age of 23, in the second an average age of 51 and in the third an average age of 77. All participants were asked to complete a food diary over a three-day period, weighing out every single food item consumed.
Researchers looked for patterns in the dietary behaviour of participants. In particular, they evaluated the protein intake across the different age groups and found 18 different patterns of protein intake throughout the day, showing a wide variety of eating habits.
Most noticeably, the team found that old people, compared to young and middle-aged individuals, people were more likely to eat a lower-quality protein source, such as bread, at lunchtime.
"We know that older people show a blunted response to muscle building when consuming a certain amount of protein. Therefore, older individuals need to eat more protein to get the same muscle building response as younger and middle-aged people. Another way to help muscles make better use of dietary protein is to perform regular exercise," explained Dr Benoit Smeuninx, first author of the study.
"Most people are reaching the Recommended Daily Allowance of protein, but our results show that a one-size-fits-all guideline for protein intake isn't appropriate across all age groups. Simply saying older people should eat more protein isn't really enough either. We need a more sophisticated and individualised approach that can help people understand when and how much protein to consume to support muscle mass," Dr Benoit added. (ANI)

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