Eat protein today to reduce muscle loss tomorrow, says study

Muscle loss is inevitable as you age but you can control the wear and tear by including protein in your diet.
Awareness about protein is important. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
ANI Updated: 11 May 2021, 04:13 am IST
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For a better future, you have to plan and take measures today – and the same goes for when it comes to your health. After the age of 30, bone and muscle loss is very common in women.

That’s why it’s all the more important for us to take care of what we eat. And we have got this study as proof.  

A recent study published in the journal Frontiers in Exercise and Sports Nutrition suggests that consuming a more balanced protein diet can help in reduction of various age-related loss of muscles.

eggs can make you lose weight
A rich source of protein, eggs can give you the boost of energy you need. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

More protein means more efficiency
Eating more protein at breakfast or lunchtime could help older people maintain muscle mass with advancing age – but research finds that most people eat proteins fairly unevenly throughout the day.

The body’s mechanisms for producing new muscle require regular stimulation to function efficiently – this stimulation happens when we eat protein. The mechanisms are less efficient in older people, so they need to eat more protein to get the same response as younger people.

Also, read: Forget protein supplements for weight loss. Try these protein laddus instead

But just eating more protein is not enough, though – older people also need to spread that intake evenly across all their meals to ensure they maximise the benefits of protein for muscle mass.

protein laddu
Give these protein laddus a chance. Image courtesy: Vancha Srivastava

Researchers in the School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Birmingham, studied the dietary intake of young, middle-aged and old-aged individuals with a particular focus on the amount, pattern, and source of protein consumed.

Distribute protein-rich food evenly throughout your day
Their results showed that, while the majority of individuals across all three groups met or exceeded current national guidelines (RDA) for protein intake, the protein intake and distribution across daily meals and snacks were very varied.

The study involved 120 participants divided into three age groups. In the first, participants had an average age of 23; in the second an average age of 51; and in the third an average age of 77. All participants were asked to complete a food diary over a three-day period, weighing out every single food item consumed.

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Researchers looked for patterns in the dietary behaviour of participants. In particular, they evaluated the protein intake across the different age groups and found 18 different patterns of protein intake throughout the day, showing a wide variety of eating habits.

Most noticeably, the team found that old people, compared to young and middle-aged individuals, people were more likely to eat a lower-quality protein source, such as bread, at lunchtime.

Ask your parents to join the protein club too
The results offer compelling evidence for revised nutritional guidelines that could help older people adopt habits that spread the consumption of good quality proteins across all their meals.

Also, read: India needs a protein revolution because study says that we are protein deprived

“We know that older people show a blunted response to muscle building when consuming a certain amount of protein. Therefore, older individuals need to eat more protein to get the same muscle-building response as younger and middle-aged people,” said lead researcher Dr Benoit Smeuninx.

Smeuninx added:

Another way to help muscles make better use of dietary protein is to perform regular exercise.

 “Most people are reaching the Recommended Daily Allowance of protein, but our results show that a one-size-fits-all guideline for protein intake isn’t appropriate across all age groups. Simply saying older people should eat more protein isn’t really enough either,” said Smeuninx.

We need a more sophisticated and individualised approach that can help people understand when and how much protein to consume to support muscle mass,” Smeuninx added.

omega 3 fatty acids foods
Ladies, all the soy chaap delicacies are the way to get healthy protein. Image courtesy: Shutterstock.

Future areas for research include studying how protein needs in hospitalised individuals could aid the maintenance of muscle mass and to further elucidate the interaction between physical activity protein consumption in the fight against age-related muscle loss. 

So, ensure that whatever you eat it should have some quotient of protein in it – to protect yourself from muscle loss.

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