Middle-Aged Men Need Meat for Muscle: Study

Tuesday, 05 Feb 2013 12:20 PM

By Nick Tate

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Backyard grill masters, rejoice. New research has found many middle-aged men need to eat more meat than current health guidelines recommend to maintain muscle as they age.

The findings — reported by McMaster University investigators in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism — suggest the protein in a single 6-ounce serving of lean ground beef (85 percent) is best for maintaining muscle mass in men in their 50s and older. That serving size is about twice what many health experts recommend, researchers noted.

"Our work shows that the quantity of beef needed to maximize the renewal of new muscle proteins was at least 6 [ounces] in middle-aged men,” said Stuart Phillips, M.D., a researcher with the Exercise Metabolism Research Group at McMaster University that conducted the study. “Our findings have clear ramifications for the current recommendations regarding protein to prevent muscle loss in aging."

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Dr. Phillips noted people lose muscle mass as they age. But he said current food guidelines for meat consumption are based only on the protein needed to prevent deficiency, but do not take into account the amount required to preserve muscle mass, particularly for older individuals who want to maintain their muscle as they age.

To determine the optimal meat serving size, researchers enrolled 35 middle-aged men and measured how protein meals of various sizes contributed to the growth, repair, and maintenance of their skeletal muscle — a process known to medical specialists as “muscle protein synthesis.” None of the men lifted weights or engaged in other muscle-building activities.

What researchers determined was that the quantity of beef needed for optimal muscle protein synthesis is a 6-ounce serving of lean ground beef — double the current recommended serving size of meat.

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