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Balanced Protein Intake May Lead to Better Muscle Synthesis

Previous research suggests that sarcopenic obesity – an increase in fat mass and a decrease in muscle mass – is becoming increasingly prevalent among mature adults. A recent study suggests that balancing protein intake throughout the day as opposed to consuming it all during the evening meal may increase muscle gain by approximately 20% as well as promote weight loss.

Participants in the study included 20 obese men between the ages of 60 and 75 years old.  All underwent one of two interventions: balanced protein consisting of  total protein intake distributed at 25% for breakfast, lunch, dinner and evening snack or a skewed protein intake of 7%, 17%, 72%, and 4% throughout the day. Both groups consumed the same amount of protein, however the balanced protein group drank a Nestle whey protein drink while the skewed group received their protein solely from dietary sources.

During the first two weeks all of the participants followed their usual physical activity, which was monitored with a pedometer and an accelerometer. For the last two weeks, they all did supervised resistance training.

The researchers measured myofibrillar protein synthesis with blood samples and muscle biopsy at the two and four week marks.

Both groups showed decreases in muscle and fat after the first two weeks of the study. While fat reduction was the same for both groups, the balanced protein group showed slightly less muscle loss. After resistance training was begun, both groups showed slower muscle loss.  The balanced protein group also had 19% higher myofibrillar protein synthesis when compared with the skewed group.

Additionally, when the balanced protein group started doing resistance training, their rate of protein synthesis went from the low level seen during the first two weeks of the study back to the normal levels seen before the start of the study.

Researchers from Nestle conducted the study. It was published on March 3, 2015, in the American Journal of Physiology: Endocrinology and Metabolism.

Protein functions as a building block for bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood. It is also a building block for enzymes, hormones, and vitamins. To get the optimal benefit from protein, it’s important to choose the right type. Some good sources of animal protein include fish, poultry, and lean meat.

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