GALVESTON, Texas For thousands of years, people have believed that eating large amounts of protein made it easier to build bigger, stronger muscles. Take Milo of Croton, the winner of five consecutive Olympic wrestling championships in the sixth century BC: If ancient writers are to be believed, he built his crushing strength in part by consuming 20 pounds of meat every day.
No modern athlete would go to such extremes, but Milo's legacy survives in the high-protein diets of bodybuilders and the meat-heavy training tables of today's college football teams. A recent study by University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston metabolism researchers, however, provides evidence that strongly contradicts this ancient tradition. It also suggests practical ways to both improve normal American eating patterns and reduce muscle loss in the elderly.
The study's results, obtained by measuring muscle synthesis rates in volunteers who consumed different amounts of lean beef, show that only about the first 30 grams (just over one ounce) of dietary protein consumed in a meal actually produce muscle.
"We knew from previous work that consuming 30 grams of protein or the equivalent of approximately 4 ounces of chicken, fish, dairy, soy, or, in this case, lean beef increased the rate of muscle protein synthesis by 50 percent in young and older adults," said associate professor Douglas Paddon-Jones, senior author of a paper on the study published in the September issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. "We asked if 4 ounces of beef gives you a 50 percent increase, would 12 ounces, containing 90 grams of protein, give you a further increase?"
The UTMB researchers tested this possibility by feeding 17 young and 17 elderly volunteers identical 4- or 12-ounce portions of lean beef. Using blood samples and thigh muscle biopsies, they then determined the subjects' muscle protein synthesis rates following each of the meals.<
|Contact: Jim Kelly|
University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston