Protein interventions augment the effect of resistance exercise on appendicular lean mass and handgrip strength in older adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

Richard P Kirwan, Mohsen Mazidi, Carmen Rodríguez García, Katie E Lane, Alireza Jafari, Tom Butler, Fatima Perez de Heredia, Ian G Davies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Increased protein intake is suggested as a strategy to slow or reverse the loss of muscle mass and strength observed in sarcopenia, but results from studies that directly tested this possibility have been inconsistent. We assessed the evidence on the effects of whole protein supplementation or higher-protein diets, without the use of amino acids or supplements known to stimulate hypertrophy, alone or in combination with resistance exercise (RE) interventions, on lean body mass (LBM) and strength in older adults. A systematic search was conducted using PubMed, Medline, Web of Science and Cochrane CENTRAL databases from January 1990 up to July 2021. Randomized controlled trials that assessed the effects of protein supplementation and/or higher-protein dietary interventions in older adults (mean age ≥ 50 years), on total LBM, appendicular lean mass (ALM), handgrip (HG) and knee extension strength (KE) were included. 28 studies were identified. In pooled analysis, compared with lower protein controls, protein supplementation did not have a significant positive effect on total LBM [weighted mean difference in change (WMD):0.34, 95% CI: -0.21,0.89, I2:90.01%], ALM [WMD:0.4, 95% CI: -0.01,0.81, I2:90.38%], HG [WMD:0.69, 95% CI: -0.69,2.06, I2:94.52%] or KE [WMD:1.88, 95% CI: -0.6,4.35, I2:95.35%]. However, in interventions that used also RE, statistically significant positive effects of protein were observed for ALM [WMD:0.54, 95% CI:0.03,1.05, I2:89.76%] and HG [WMD:1.71, 95% CI:0.12,3.30, I2:88.71%]. Meta-regression revealed no significant association between age, per-meal protein dose, duration, and baseline protein intake with change in any outcome. Sub-group analysis revealed the statistically significant effects on ALM only occurred in sarcopenic/frail populations (WMD:0.88, 95% CI:0.51,1.25, I2:79.0%). Most studies (n = 22) had some risk of bias. In older adults performing RE, increased protein intake leads to greater ALM and HG, compared with lower protein controls. Without RE, protein has no additional benefit on changes in total LBM, ALM or HG. [Abstract copyright: © The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Society for Nutrition.]
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)897-913
Number of pages17
JournalThe American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Volume115
Issue number3
Early online date21 Oct 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 4 Mar 2022

Keywords

  • aging
  • elderly
  • frailty
  • lean body mass
  • protein
  • resistance exercise
  • sarcopenia
  • strength

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