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Back to Symposium 2013

Protein and Healthy Aging

Douglas Paddon-Jones Douglas Paddon-Jones, PhD

The University of Texas Medical Branch

Recent advances in protein research might have the potential to improve health outcomes and status, especially with regards to maintaining healthy muscles now and preventing muscle loss with aging (sarcopenia).

The beneficial effects of dietary protein on muscle health in adults continue to be refined. An increasing number of original research and review papers recommend that adults increase protein consumption beyond the current RDA by adopting a meal-based approach to protein consumption, in lieu of a less specific daily recommendation. Results from muscle protein anabolism and appetite regulation research support the contention for meeting a protein threshold (approximately 30 g/meal) represents a promising strategy for adults concerned with maintaining muscle mass while controlling body fat. Specifically, breakfast is often carbohydrate-based with limited protein, while an exaggerated serving of protein is often consumed during the evening meal.

Our research has shown that about 30 g of protein is close to the maximum amount of protein that can be used at a single meal to stimulate muscle protein synthesis. Unless an individual’s daily energy requirements are high, excess protein is likely to be oxidized and/or eventually stored as fat. We propose that shifting some of the protein consumed at dinner to breakfast may optimize the potential for muscle growth and repair while balancing overall nutrient and energy intake.

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