Include protein at each meal to maintain muscle

IANS| Last Updated: May 21, 2014, 18:34 PM IST

Washington: If you do not want those awe-inspiring muscles in your biceps to fade with age, include a full serving of protein at each meal, instead of having just one protein-rich meal in a day.

The typical cereal or carbohydrate-dominated breakfast, a sandwich or salad at lunch and overly large serving of meat/protein for dinner may not provide the best metabolic environment to promote healthy ageing and maintenance of muscle size and strength, a study indicated.

"You do not have to eat massive amounts of protein to maximise muscle synthesis, you just have to be a little more thoughtful with how you apportion it," said Doug Paddon-Jones of the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston in the US.

The potential for muscle growth is less than optimal when protein consumption is skewed toward the evening meal instead of being evenly distributed throughout the day.

Age-related conditions such as osteoporosis (bone weakening) and sarcopenia (muscle wasting) do not develop all of a sudden.

Rather they are insidious processes precipitated by suboptimal lifestyle practices, such as diet and exercise, in early middle age, the study showed.

The researchers measured muscle protein synthesis rates in healthy adults who consumed two similar diets that differed in protein distribution throughout the day.

One of the diets contained 30 grams of protein at each meal, while the other contained 10 grams at breakfast, 15 grams at lunch and 65 grams at dinner.

When volunteers consumed the evenly distributed protein meals, their 24-hour muscle protein synthesis was 25 percent greater than those who ate according to the skewed protein distribution pattern.

The study appeared in the Journal of Nutrition.