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Enriched Whey Protein Drink May Help Muscle Synthesis For Mature Men

As we age, muscle synthesis slows down, making it harder to gain and maintain strength. A recent study suggests that drinking a medical nutrition drink of leucine-enriched whey protein, vitamin D, and carbohydrates with breakfast may help enhance muscle protein synthesis in mature men.

Participants in the study included 24 men over the age of 65 with a BMI between 20 and 30. Over the course of six weeks, they were given either an enriched drink with 20 g of protein, 3 g of total leucine, 9 g of carbohydrates, 3 g of fat, and 800 IU of vitamin D, or a flavored, watery placebo daily with breakfast. They also ate a standardized breakfast of one glass of orange juice, one cup of tea or coffee without sugar, bread, butter, and jam.

The researchers measured nutritional status and physical activity of all of the participants at the onset and conclusion of the study via questionnaires and muscle biopsy. They determined via the questionnaires that there were no changes in physical activity between the supplement and placebo group from the beginning to the end of the study.

The researchers found that the supplement drink stimulated postprandial muscle protein synthesis. At the conclusion of the study, the supplement drink group had a significant gain in lean mass of the limbs, when compared with the placebo group.

Researchers from the University of Clermont Auvergne conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on August 23, 2017, in The Journal of Nutrition.

Leucine is an essential amino acid that stimulates skeletal muscle protein synthesis, which begins the muscle building process. In addition to building muscle, leucine also helps regulate blood sugar levels. Foods rich in leucine include soybeans, lentils, beef, peanuts, salmon, eggs and milk.

Whey protein is one of the two proteins found in milk, but is only approximately 1% of the composition of milk. It is obtained as a byproduct of cheese making and can be purchased in powder form from health food stores. Additionally, it can be found in yogurt and in ricotta cheese, which is one of the only cheeses that do not have the whey removed. Previous studies suggest that it may help diabetics manage their glucose levels, aid with weight loss, improve blood flow in the arteries, and lower blood pressure.

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