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Effects of exercise and whey protein on muscle mass, fat mass, myoelectrical muscle fatigue and health-related quality of life in older adults: a secondary analysis of the Liverpool Hope University—Sarcopenia Ageing Trial (LHU-SAT)

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European Journal of Applied Physiology Aims and scope Submit manuscript

Abstract

Purpose

To investigate the effects of exercise in combination with, or without, a leucine-enriched whey protein supplement on muscle mass, fat mass, myoelectrical muscle fatigue and health-related quality of life (HR-QOL) in older adults.

Methods

100 community-dwelling older adults [52% women, age: 69 ± 6 years (mean ± SD)] were randomised to four [Control (C); Exercise (E); Exercise + Protein (EP); Protein (P)] independent groups. E and EP groups completed 16 weeks of exercise [resistance (2 times/week) and functional (1 time/week]. EP and P groups were also administered a leucine-enriched whey protein supplement (3 times/day) based on body weight (1.5 g/kg/day). Muscle and fat mass (bioelectrical impedance analysis), myoelectrical muscle fatigue (surface electromyography) and HR-QOL (WHOQOL-BREF) were measured pre- and post-intervention.

Results

At post-intervention, the rectus femoris (E: − 4.8%/min, p = 0.007, ES = 0.86; EP: − 3.3%/min, p = 0.045, ES = 0.58) and bicep femoris (E: − 3.9%/min, p < 0.001, ES = 1.46; EP: − 4.3%/min, p < 0.001, ES = 1.58) muscles became more resistant to fatigue in the E and EP groups, respectively (p < 0.05 versus C). HR-QOL improved in the E group only. Muscle and fat mass did not change (p > 0.05).

Conclusion

Physical exercise is a potent method to improve myoelectrical muscle fatigue and HR-QOL in older adults. However, leucine-enriched whey protein did not augment this response in those already consuming sufficient quantities of protein at trial enrolment.

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Abbreviations

BIA:

Bioelectrical impedance analysis

BMI:

Body mass index

C:

Control

E:

Exercise

EMG:

Electromyography

EP:

Exercise + Protein

ESPEN:

European Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism

HR-QOL:

Health-related quality of life

LHU-SAT:

Liverpool Hope University—Sarcopenia Ageing Trial

MVC:

Maximal voluntary contraction

P:

Protein

RCT:

Randomised controlled trial

RDA:

Recommended dietary allowance

SD:

Standard deviation

SMI:

Skeletal muscle index

References

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Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank the participants for their dedication and continuous contribution throughout the trial.

Funding

No external funding was received for this project.

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Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Contributions

BK, KM, RC, PA, GC, FA and OK conceived and designed the trial. BK and KM performed the laboratory tests and ran the exercise and protein interventions, while MJ and JP provided support when needed. BK, KM and RC processed and analysed the data, overseen by FA and OK. BK wrote the manuscript with assistance from RC. All authors edited and approved the final version.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Ben Kirk.

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Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Additional information

Communicated by Guido Ferretti .

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Kirk, B., Mooney, K., Cousins, R. et al. Effects of exercise and whey protein on muscle mass, fat mass, myoelectrical muscle fatigue and health-related quality of life in older adults: a secondary analysis of the Liverpool Hope University—Sarcopenia Ageing Trial (LHU-SAT). Eur J Appl Physiol 120, 493–503 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-019-04293-5

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-019-04293-5

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