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Whey Protein May Help With Age-Related Muscle Loss

Muscle loss from aging is a common part of getting older and can be accelerated during periods of inactivity. A recent study suggests that whey protein is more effective for recovery from muscle loss due to inactivity in mature adults than collagen peptides.


Participants in the study included 16 men and 15 women in their late 60s who all started with a run-in period where they were in energy balance. The recommended level of protein intake during that time was 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. Following that, they cut their food intake by 500 calories per day for one week, while simultaneously boosting their protein intake to 1.6 g/kg. That was followed by a week with the same nutrient intake, during which they restricted movement — measured by pedometer — by 750 steps per day. Finally, they went through a week of recovery, during which they maintained their higher protein intake.


During the protein supplemented phases, the participants were given either 30 grams of whey protein twice a day or 30 grams of collagen peptides twice a day. That accounted for 45% of their protein intake during that time period.


The researchers measured lean leg mass and rates of integrated muscle protein synthesis in both groups.


At the conclusion of the study, the researchers noted that neither protein intervention helped prevent lean muscle mass during the period where the participants were restricting both calories and steps. However, during the recovery phase, the whey protein group recovered lean muscle mass, while the collagen group did not.


Researchers from McMaster University conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on October 4, 2018, in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.


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.

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