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Elite athletes often credit what they eat or drink post-workout as the reason for their ideal performance and muscle strength. But now, a new study has found that protein drinks for older adults after exercise can help them reap the benefits as well by building stronger muscles. The study featured in the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) Journal compared one group who drank protein drinks after cardiovascular activity to another who drank a carbohydrate-based beverage.
According to Benjamin F. Miller, PhD, from the Department of Health and Exercise Science at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, exercise and nutrition are key as people get older. "Studies such as ours help to explain how exercise and nutrition work so that we can better take advantage of those pathways to slow the aging process," he said.
The six-week study may seem elementary, but in reality it was quite complex. Sixteen people were involved in the study, all ages 37 and older. Each walked on a treadmill three times a week for a duration of 45 minutes. After exercise, half of the participants were given a carbohydrate drink while the others were given a protein drink.
The measuring aspect of new muscle mass is where the complexity comes into play. Scientists used what is known as heavy water labeling to determine the “new structures in the muscles and metabolic pathways.” This process entails having the participants consume heavy water, which can help determine the process and speed of new muscle being made. Researchers used refined instruments to take muscle samples at the end of the study. They were then able to figure out which group made more muscle during the duration of the research.
The Editor-in-Chief of the FASEB Journal, Gerald Weissmann, M.D., stated, “If you want to age gracefully, this study shows that proteins taken after exercise keep your muscles strong and fit. You've got to feed your body with the proper nutrients after a workout. Fortunately, protein shakes are cheap, readily available and some say taste good."