MONTREAL —The older we get, the older our muscles feel. Although a weakened body is inevitable into our elder years, there are measures that can be taken to increase strength as you age, a recent study finds.
Doctors at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre say that adding more protein to seniors’ diets may help keep their muscles extra pumped in old age.
“Many seniors, especially in North America, consume the majority of their daily protein intake at lunch and dinner. We wanted to see if people who added protein sources to breakfast, and therefore had balanced protein intake through the three meals, had greater muscle strength,” says the lead author of the study, Dr. Stéphanie Chevalier, in a news release.
Muscle mass decreases as the intake of protein (consisting of amino acids) decreases. Muscle mass works with protein to build strength and muscles.
For three years, researchers reviewed protein intake for 827 healthy men and 914 healthy women aged 67 to 84 years. They looked to see how various patterns affected an older adult’s mobility, muscle mass, or overall strength.
The authors discovered that those who consumed a balanced level of protein throughout the day had more strength than those who consumed most of their protein at dinner and less during breakfast time. They did not find any association with an individual’s overall mobility.
For further studies, researchers will look into different types of amino acids, in order to get a better assessment of protein.
“Our research is based on scientific evidence demonstrating that older people need to consume more protein per meal because they need a greater boost of amino acids for protein synthesis,” says Dr. Chevalier. “It would be interesting to look into protein sources and their amino acid composition in future studies to further our observations.”
This study’s findings were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.