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Elderly muscles need more protein

A well-balanced meal or a portion of protein in the form of a shake boosts the synthesis of muscle protein. At least, it does if you ingest a high enough total quantity of protein. The optimal amount of protein depends on your age, sports scientists at the University of Toronto discovered. The older you are, the more protein you need.

Pulsed proteins

Elderly muscles need more protein
If you serve elderly people all the protein they need in 1 meal, then their muscles will benefit from this. Strength athletes aged between 20 and 30 show optimal growth if they consume 20 g after a workout, but people in their seventies need 40 g for this. There are plenty of references in the literature to the fact that the body metabolises protein differently as we get older. To be more exact: it seems that your muscles only wise up to proteins if you consume them in sufficient quantity and that this requirement increases with age.

Experimental setup
Researchers at the University of Toronto measured the number of grams of protein needed for optimal postprandial myofibrillar protein synthesis in two groups of men. The average age in one group was 22, and in the other 71.

Muscle protein synthesis
In the young men the maximum effect on muscle protein synthesis happened at an intake of 0.24 kg protein per kg bodyweight. If you look at lean body mass [LBM], then the effect was optimal at 0.25 g protein per kg LBM.

Elderly muscles need more protein

In the older men the effect was optimal at 0.4 g protein per kg bodyweight or at 0.6 g protein per kg LBM.

Elderly muscles need more protein

"The protein intake references derived herein could be considered when setting protein intakes for older men (based on a balanced three-meal daily protein intake) and when developing nutritional strategies to maximize myofibrillar protein synthesis and, potentially, maintain muscle mass", the researchers write.

J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2014 Jul 23. pii: glu103. [Epub ahead of print].

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