Health + Wellness

High-protein Diet Improves Mobility And Weight Loss

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A recent study found that an enhanced dietary protein intake can help combat obesity and functional limitations among older adults.

As we age, a slew of health concerns may start to surface and this includes weight gain and sarcopenia – an age-related decrease in muscle mass and performance. Due to physical limitations, older adults may also find it difficult to lose weight or gain muscle as they age.

The obesity epidemic poses several health threats on many older adults, which include cardiovascular disease and Type II Diabetes, but more severely on the performance of daily activities.

Thankfully, a number of studies have shown that both age-related health concerns can be mitigated by a high-protein diet. Researchers from Duke University Medical Centre conducted a six-month-long trial on 67 obese older adults (aged 60 and above), where the control group was prescribed a traditional weight loss regime, while the other group was given a higher protein diet at every meal. Physical function was assessed by a Short Physical Performance Battery that measured the participants’ balance, lower-body strength and gait speed.

The results found that both groups showed significant weight loss and improved function, but the group with a higher protein intake demonstrated greater improvement in function than the other group.

This means that overweight older adults with limited ability to exercise can possibly gain lean muscle and lose weight just by enhancing their protein intake alone. Such findings are especially advantageous to older adults who require more stringent attention to diet and exercise in order to stay fit and healthy.

While protein-rich diets have long been favoured for its range of benefits such as increased strength, weight loss, and better satiety, the kind of protein consumed and the frequency in which it is consumed a day also matters. Another study suggested that consuming a moderate amount of high-quality protein three times a day helps stimulate muscle protein synthesis more effectively than just once a day. Some examples of high-quality proteins include beef, fish, poultry, yogurt, eggs, milk and nuts.

In conclusion, these studies suggest that older adults could possibly counter age-related health problems such as obesity, sarcopenia and functional disabilities by incorporating more proteins in their diet throughout the day. Do note however that overconsumption of proteins may not be beneficial to the body.

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