Eating protein three times a day could make seniors stronger

September 5, 2017 in Healthy Eating, Nutrition for Older Adults, Nutrition Topics in the News

Eating protein three times a day could make seniors stronger

Muscle loss is an inevitable consequence of aging that can lead to frailty, falls or mobility problems. Eating enough protein is one way to remedy it, but spreading that protein equally among the three daily meals appears to result in greater mass and muscle strength in the elderly.

Since many seniors, especially in North America, consume the most of their daily protein intake at lunch and dinner, the researchers wanted to see if people who added protein to breakfast, and therefore had balanced protein intake through the three meals, had greater muscle strength.

For the study, researchers from McGill University Health Centre in collaboration with the Université de Sherbrooke and the Université de Montréal, examined both the amount of protein consumed and its distribution among people aged 67 and over using the database from the Quebec longitudinal study on nutrition and aging called NuAge (Nutrition as a Determinant of Successful Aging).

The NuAge cohort, which included nearly 1,800 people, who were followed for three years.

The research team reviewed the protein consumption patterns of 827 healthy men and 914 healthy women aged 67 to 84 years, all residents of Quebec, in order to establish links to strength, muscle mass or mobility.

Balanced protein during the day tied to better muscle strength

They found that men and women who consumed protein in a balanced way during the day had more muscle strength than those who consumed more during the evening meal and less at breakfast. The distribution of protein throughout the day was not, however, associated with their mobility.

All body tissues, including muscle, are composed of proteins, which are made from building blocks called amino acids. If protein intake decreases, the muscle synthesis is not done correctly which can lead to a loss of muscle mass.

Evidence has demonstrated that older people need to consume more protein at each meal because they need more amino acids for protein synthesis.

Source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, July 2017.

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