What is the Optimal Amount of Protein to Support Post-Exercise Skeletal Muscle Reconditioning in the Older Adult?

Abstract

Hyperaminoacidemia following protein ingestion enhances the anabolic effect of resistance-type exercise by increasing the stimulation of muscle protein synthesis and attenuating the exercise-mediated increase in muscle protein breakdown rates. Although factors such as the source of protein ingested and the timing of intake relative to exercise can impact post-exercise muscle protein synthesis rates, the amount of protein ingested after exercise appears to be the key nutritional factor dictating the magnitude of the muscle protein synthetic response during post-exercise recovery. In younger adults, muscle protein synthesis rates after resistance-type exercise respond in a dose-dependent manner to ingested protein and are maximally stimulated following ingestion of ~20 g of protein. In contrast to younger adults, older adults are less sensitive to smaller doses of ingested protein (less than ~20 g) after exercise, as evidenced by an attenuated increase in muscle protein synthesis rates during post-exercise recovery. However, older muscle appears to retain the capacity to display a robust stimulation of muscle protein synthesis in response to the ingestion of greater doses of protein (~40 g), and such an amount may be required for older adults to achieve a robust stimulation of muscle protein synthesis during post-exercise recovery. The aim of this article is to discuss the current state of evidence regarding the dose-dependent relationship between dietary protein ingestion and changes in skeletal muscle protein synthesis during recovery from resistance-type exercise in older adults. We provide recommendations on the amount of protein that may be required to maximize skeletal muscle reconditioning in response to resistance-type exercise in older adults.

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Acknowledgments

We thank Dr. Oliver Witard and Dr. Kevin Tipton for graciously sharing the raw FSR data from their published work [8], presented in Table 1.

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Correspondence to Luc J. C. van Loon.

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Tyler A. Churchward-Venne, Andrew M. Holwerda, Stuart M. Phillips, and Luc J.C. van Loon have no conflicts of interest directly relevant to the contents of this article.

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Churchward-Venne, T.A., Holwerda, A.M., Phillips, S.M. et al. What is the Optimal Amount of Protein to Support Post-Exercise Skeletal Muscle Reconditioning in the Older Adult?. Sports Med 46, 1205–1212 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-016-0504-2

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Keywords

  • Muscle Protein Synthesis
  • Skeletal Muscle Protein Synthesis
  • Muscle Protein Synthesis Rate
  • Anabolic Resistance
  • Stimulate Muscle Protein Synthesis