The research contradicts earlier understanding of protein intake.
Distributing protein intake evenly throughout the day can help to optimise its performance in maintaining muscle mass and muscle among elderly consumers, according to research published today.
The authors of the study – led by researchers at the University of Limerick, Ireland and funded by Food for Health Ireland (FHI) – wrote that “an optimised and balanced distribution of meal-level protein intakes could be beneficial in the preservation of lean tissue mass in the elderly”.
The findings contradict belief that consuming most of the day’s protein at dinner time is the best form of protein intake, and have been published in The Journal of Nutrition.
The six-month intervention study involved 60 participants between the ages of 50 and 70. At both breakfast and lunchtime, the volunteers consumed either a beverage containing a high-quality, milk-based protein, or a placebo with similar calories but zero protein.
Importantly, the quality and amount of protein intake per meal in the intervention group was elevated to a level considered optimal for protein synthesis, providing the platform for the observed change in whole body lean tissue mass.
Lead investigator Prof Philip Jakeman said: “On completion of the study, the between-group difference in the amount of whole body lean tissue (muscle) mass was an impressive +0.6kg (1.3lb) in favour of those who consumed the milk-based protein supplement.”
FHI CEO Jens Bleiel said that the findings could have implications on future product development: “FHI aims to identify bioactive ingredients that can be derived from milk, ensuring that any components found satisfy real consumer needs and accelerate their commercialisation. The healthy ageing market has a lot of potential for novel ingredients with proven health benefits.”
And John Holland, director of operations for Carbery Group, which helps to fund the FHI, added: “Globally we know there is a demand for new and innovative products in this area. This is a very exciting research project and provides further evidence to support our research programmes in which we develop products to help address consumers need to include (high quality) protein throughout the day.”
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2020
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