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Dietary protein recommendations and the prevention of sarcopenia

Paddon-Jones, Douglas; Rasmussen, Blake B

Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care: January 2009 - Volume 12 - Issue 1 - p 86–90
doi: 10.1097/MCO.0b013e32831cef8b
Protein, amino acid metabolism and therapy: Edited by Erich Roth and Elena Volpi

Purpose of review To draw attention to recent work on the role of protein and the amount of protein needed with each meal to preserve skeletal muscle mass in ageing.

Recent findings Ageing does not inevitably reduce the anabolic response to a high-quality protein meal. Ingestion of approximately 25–30 g of protein per meal maximally stimulates muscle protein synthesis in both young and older individuals. However, muscle protein synthesis is blunted in elderly when protein and carbohydrate are coingested or when the quantity of protein is less than approximately 20 g per meal. Supplementing regular mixed-nutrient meals with leucine may also enhance the muscle protein synthetic response in elders.

Summary On the basis of recent work, we propose a novel and specific dietary approach to prevent or slow down muscle loss with ageing. Rather than recommending a large, global increase in the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for protein for all elderly individuals, clinicians should stress the importance of ingesting a sufficient amount of protein with each meal. To maximize muscle protein synthesis while being cognizant of total energy intake, we propose a dietary plan that includes 25–30 g of high quality protein per meal.

Department of Physical Therapy, Division of Rehabilitation Sciences. The University of Texas Medical Branch. 301 University Blvd. Galveston, Texas, USA

Correspondence to Douglas Paddon-Jones, PhD, University of Texas Medical Branch, Department of Physical Therapy, Division of Rehabilitation Sciences, 301 University Blvd., Galveston, TX 77555-1144, USA Tel: +1 409 772 3073; fax: +1 409 747 1613; e-mail:

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.