Sarcopenia refers to the age‐related decline in skeletal muscle mass and physical function. Literature points to a beneficial effect of about 20-25 g of whey protein or daily total protein intake of at least of 1.2 g/kg bodyweight/day during resistance exercise training in older people.
A study was designed to determine the effectiveness of a 24‐week program of nutritional supplementation using whey protein, following resistance exercise, in increasing muscle mass and physical function among 81 healthy older women (65-80 years). The participants were divided into three groups of 27 participants each - the exercise and protein supplementation group, the exercise only group, and the protein supplementation only group.
Investigators combined a 24‐week program of resistance exercise, conducted twice a week, with whey protein supplementation. Researchers determined the differences in the pre‐ to post‐intervention change in skeletal muscle mass and physical function among the groups.
The pre‐ to post‐intervention increase in skeletal muscle mass index (SMI) was significantly higher for the exercise and protein supplementation group than for either the exercise only or the protein supplementation only groups (Fig. 1 a, b, c). Likewise, the grip strength and gait speed increase was found to be significantly greater for the exercise and protein supplementation group. Fig. 2 depicts the pre‐ to post‐intervention change in grip strength in exercise and protein supplementation group.
The researchers thus concluded that whey protein supplementation following resistance exercise could prove beneficial in preventing sarcopenia among healthy older women.
Source: Mori H, Tokuda Y. Effect of whey protein supplementation after resistance exercise on the muscle mass and physical function of healthy older women: A randomized controlled trial. Geriatr Gerontol Int 2018;18:1398–1404.