LMU 61 – Reversing Age-Related Muscle Loss: The Power of Whey Protein and Key Nutrients
Source: PLOS One Open Access Journal (July 18, 2017)
Lifestyle Medicine Update (August 5, 2017)
Aging is an inevitable process that brings with it a multitude of changes in the body. Among these changes, age-related muscle loss, known as sarcopenia, stands out as a significant concern for maintaining a high quality of life. The McMaster Institute for Research on Aging, situated at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, has delved into this issue. Their groundbreaking study, published on July 18, 2017, in The Public Library of Science One Open Access Journal, sheds light on the efficacy of a nutritional intervention that could potentially reverse the muscle loss that accompanies aging.
The Menace of Age-Related Muscle Loss
As we age, the body’s natural production of anabolic hormones like testosterone and growth hormone dwindles. This hormonal decline sets the stage for a gradual breakdown of muscle mass and a subsequent utilization of muscle protein as an energy source. The consequences are profound – reduced muscle strength, loss of independence in daily activities, susceptibility to falls and fractures, and an increased likelihood of needing assisted living. The rate of decline is staggering; by the time a man reaches 70, he may have lost up to 30% of his testosterone levels. Similarly, growth hormone levels experience a precipitous drop.
Hope on the Horizon
Can this process be halted or even reversed? The McMaster study offers a resounding affirmation. Contrary to the belief that hormone injections are necessary, this study underscores the potential of nutrition and lifestyle to drive positive change. The research focused on the impact of a whey protein shake mix, when combined with specific nutrients, on the age-related muscle loss conundrum.
The Nutritional Arsenal
The study’s participants, men aged 70 and above, were administered a whey protein shake mix (30 gm, twice daily) complemented by an array of essential nutrients:
- Creatine: 5 gm per day
- Calcium: 800 mg
- Vitamin D: 1,000 IU
- Omega-3 Fats (Fish Oil): EPA–1400 mg/DHA- 890 mg
Results: A Glimpse into Transformation
The outcomes were nothing short of remarkable. The men who consumed the whey protein shake mix and accompanying nutrients experienced a remarkable increase in lean muscle mass – a gain of 700 grams in just the initial 6 weeks. To put this into perspective, this is roughly the amount of muscle tissue typically lost in a year due to the aging process.
This initial success was further amplified when, in the subsequent 6 weeks, the participants combined the protein-nutrient regimen with a basic fitness and strength training program, conducted twice weekly. This two-pronged approach yielded a significant improvement in strength, demonstrating the potential synergy between nutritional supplementation and physical activity.
Behind the Scenes: The Role of Researchers
Researcher Kristen Bell, who played an integral role in the study, emphasized the dual significance of exercise and nutritional supplementation. “Clearly, exercise is a key part of the greatly improved health profile of our subjects,” she stated, “but we are very excited by the enhancements the supplement alone and in combination with exercise was able to give to our participants.”
Harnessing the Power of Whey Protein and Creatine
Whey protein, a popular choice among athletes and bodybuilders for muscle development, has demonstrated its efficacy in building muscle tissue. Similarly, creatine supplements are known to enhance strength. However, the revelation of their potential as nutritional tools in the fight against age-related muscle loss is revolutionary. These ingredients, once reserved for the gym enthusiast, are proving to be valuable allies in preserving and reversing muscle weakness that accompanies aging.
Empowering the Aging Population
As the world’s population continues to age, the relevance of this study becomes increasingly apparent. Individuals aged 50 and beyond, particularly those in the 60-plus bracket, are encouraged to consider incorporating whey protein and creatine supplements into their daily routines. The benefits extend beyond muscle preservation; reversing muscle loss can catalyze metabolism, thwart fat accumulation, and sustain the capability to perform routine tasks as age advances. Moreover, the study underscores the importance of other key nutrients such as calcium, Vitamin D, and Omega-3 fats, which contribute to overall health and vitality.
Conclusion: A New Dawn for Aging Gracefully
In an era where scientific advancements and innovative research reshape the boundaries of what is possible, the McMaster study stands as a beacon of hope for the aging population. The amalgamation of nutrition and physical activity presents an opportunity to not only slow down the effects of aging but potentially reverse them. The path to vitality in our later years is paved with the insights from studies like this, reminding us that age is just a number, and strength can be reclaimed.
Dr. James Meschino
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. James Meschino, DC, MS, ROHP, is an educator, author, and researcher having lectured to thousands of healthcare professionals across North America. He holds a Master’s Degree in Science with specialties in human nutrition and biology and is recognized as an expert in the field of nutrition, anti-aging, fitness, and wellness as well as the author of numerous books.