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Effects of Exercise Alone or in Combination with High-Protein Diet on Muscle Function, Aerobic Capacity, and Physical Function in Middle-Aged Obese Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Abstract

Background

Obesity accelerates and exacerbates the age-related changes on muscle function and exercise capacity. In addition, the middle-aged population is often overlooked when talking about the prevention of sarcopenia. This study investigated the effects of exercise alone or in combination with a high-protein diet on muscle function and physical fitness in middle-aged obese adults.

Materials and methods

Sixty-nine middle-aged (501–64 years old) obese adults were randomly assigned to one of the following groups: control group (C; n=23), exercise group (E; n=23) or exercise plus high-protein group (EP; n=23). Individuals within the E and EP groups received 12 weeks of exercise training; whereas, the individuals in the EP group also received a highprotein diet intervention (1.6g/kg/day). Individuals within the C group were asked to maintain their lifestyle for 12 weeks. Participants were evaluated before and after the intervention. Outcome measures included maximal exercise capacity, muscle function and functional physical performance. Analysis of covariance was used to determine the effects of the intervention.

Results

After the intervention, the E and EP groups had greater maximal work rate, peak oxygen consumption, and muscle power during muscle contractions at 180°/sec than that in the C group (P<0.05). The EP group, but not the E group, showed significant improvement in the sit-to-stand test and climbing stairs test than the C group after the intervention (P<0.05). Within group comparisons showed that the anaerobic threshold only increased in the EP group (+12% from pre-test).

Conclusions

For middle-aged obese adults, exercise with a high-protein diet not only improved muscle power and exercise capacity but also enhanced their functional physical performance.

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Acknowledgments

This work was supported by the Ministry of Science and Technology, Taiwan. [grant numbers: MOST-106-2314-B-010 -052 -MY3 (Chen, C.N.); MOST-109-2314-B-010 -036 -MY3 (Chen, C.N.)] and University of Taipei, Taiwan (Tsai, S.C.). We thank all the individuals who volunteered to participate this study. We also thank the help of dietitian Ying-Fang Wang and trainer Hua-Hung Yuan in the diet and exercise intervention of this study. Chen CN and Chien KY conceptualized the study; Chen CN and Hsu KJ coordinated and managed the project; Hsu KJ, Chen JJ and Chen YR performed the intervention and collected the data. Chen CN, Tsai SC and Tsai YS provided facilities/equipment and help interpreted the data. Chen CN and Hsu KJ analyzed and interpreted the data, and wrote the manuscript. All authors reviewed and approved the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Chiao-Nan Chen.

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Conflict of interest: The authors declared no conflict of interest.

Ethical standard: The study protocol was approved by the Institutional Review Board of the National Yang-Ming University (IRB number: YM-106064F-1). All participants signed written informed consent.

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Hsu, KJ., Chien, KY., Tsai, SC. et al. Effects of Exercise Alone or in Combination with High-Protein Diet on Muscle Function, Aerobic Capacity, and Physical Function in Middle-Aged Obese Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial. J Nutr Health Aging 25, 727–734 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12603-021-1599-1

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12603-021-1599-1

Key words

  • High intensity interval training
  • muscle power
  • anaerobic threshold