When it comes to maintaining muscle mass and fighting the risk of frailty, it’s not just about how much protein you get but how often you get it, new research suggests.
A new Canadian study suggest that spreading protein equally among the three daily meals could be linked to greater mass and muscle strength in the elderly than consumer the same levels of protein in just one or two sittings.
Study leader Dr Stéphanie Chevalier from the School of Human Nutrition at McGill University noted that many seniors consume the majority of their daily protein 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,” she said.
Writing in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the team report that an even distribution of daily protein intake across meals is independently associated with greater muscle strength.
“We observed that participants of both sexes 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,” explained study first author Dr Samaneh Farsijani.
“However, the distribution of protein throughout the day was not associated with their mobility.”
Protein and ageing
Loss of muscle is an inevitable consequence of aging that can lead to frailty, falls or mobility problems, said the team – who noted that eating enough protein is one way that has been shown to help prevent issues related to muscle loss and frailty in older age.
All body tissues, including the muscles, are composed of proteins – which themselves are made up of amino acids.
When protein intake decreases, the production of proteins in our muscles is not done correctly and this leads to a loss of muscle mass, said the team.
“Our research is based on scientific evidence demonstrating that older people need to consume more protein per meal…