Do athletes really need protein supplements?

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Protein supplements for athletes are literally sold by the bucketful. The marketing that accompanies them persistently promotes the attainment of buff biceps and six-pack abs.

In 2014, the protein supplement market in Australia was valued at A$545 million dollars, and is predicted to keep growing by about 10% per year. But do athletes really need them?

First, let’s consider what protein is and why we need it. Protein is an essential macronutrient in the diet. This means it provides energy to fuel the body but also has structural properties.

Protein is formed by smaller units called amino acids. Amino acids are used by the body to make muscle and other essential body proteins that are used in the immune system, and also to regulate many of the processes in the body.

Protein and amino acids indirectly affect performance by building muscle to improve performance. There is little evidence to suggest consuming extra protein directly aids physical performance in either endurance or resistance exercise.

Protein is fairly ubiquitous in the diet – it can come from animal sources (fish, meat, offal, eggs and dairy), and in smaller amounts from vegetable sources (cereals and legumes).

How much protein do we need?

Protein requirements for Australians are based on our life stage and gender. The estimated average requirement for an adult aged 19-70 is 0.68g per kilo of body weight for women and 0.75g per kilo of body weight for men. This means a 65kg woman will need about 45g of protein per day. An 80kg man will need about 60g a day.

Athletes need more protein as they are building and/or repairing muscle as well as connective tissue. Their requirements are two to three times the amount of protein as normal people, or between 1.4-2g per kilo of body weight per day.

This is a large range, allowing variation for the sort of sport they play. An elite endurance male may be in the lower range, as they have a smaller body frame and less musculature. A power sportsman, such as an AFL player, would require more.

Are we getting enough?

A 2011-12 survey found most Australians were consuming about double the recommended intake of protein per day. Almost all (99%) Australians met or surpassed the required intake.

Evidence also indicates most athletes consume enough, and often more, protein than they require.

But actually it’s the timing of consuming the protein that is most important to building muscle. After any sort of exercise or performance activity that results in muscle resistance, the muscle has to be rebuilt. For maximal synthesis to occur there needs to be adequate levels of amino acids circulating in the blood. It’s been determined that, to achieve this, around 20-30g of protein must be consumed within 1-4 hours after exercise.

This doesn’t mean you need to down a protein shake as soon as you leave the gym. If you’re having a meal within this time frame, you can consume the 20-30g in that meal (which most people would anyway). This amount of protein from animal sources includes enough of the critical amino acid, leucine, that is needed for muscle resynthesis.

This is the equivalent of 120g of beef or chicken, three whole eggs, 70g of reduced fat cheddar cheese or 600ml of skim milk. However if we look at plant-based foods, you would need the equivalent of seven slices of bread, 350g of kidney beans or lentils, or 900ml of soya milk.

So does anyone need protein supplements?

There may be situations where an athlete is travelling or can’t access a meal within a few hours of their training session. So they could either snack on one of the foods listed above, or take a protein supplement. Protein supplements will usually be lower in kilojoules, so if an athlete is on a kilojoule-restricted diet they’ll get more bang for their buck from a protein supplement.

But of course protein supplements don’t have the other nutrients that natural foods contain, such as iron and zinc from red meat, calcium from dairy, or omega-3 fatty acids from fish.

Additionally, one needs to weigh up the risk of potential contamination with banned substances like anabolic agents, stimulants, and diuretics. This may be intentional by the producer (as their product will appear to be more effective in building muscle) or accidental due to an error in the manufacturing process or using ingredients that may have been contaminated.

Analytical studies have also shown there may be contamination with the heavy metals lead, mercury and arsenic. The other consideration for the athlete is the impact on the hip pocket and environment.

Is there any harm in taking extra protein?

The question of “protein overdose” partially depends on exactly how much extra protein is being consumed. We can be reasonably confident levels up to 2-3g per kilo of body weight per day (so around 200g for a 75kg person) have no health risk. But there has always been concern higher levels of protein may accelerate underlying kidney disease (particularly if there is a family history) leading to a progressive loss of kidney capacity.

Athletes and weekend warriors should exercise caution if they’re considering intakes of protein beyond 2-3g per kilo of body weight per day. In these situations, athletes should seek advice from an accredited sports dietitian.

Article Source: https://medicalxpress.com/news/2018-04-athletes-protein-supplements.html

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Turns out protein quality matters when it comes to building muscle

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Internationally venerated skeletal muscle scientist takes a critical look at how protein quality impacts muscle mass and strength gains with resistance exercise

Attention Crossfit®, HIIT, Orange Theory® and absolutely anyone who cares about maintaining muscle mass – Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Skeletal Muscle Health, Dr. Stuart M. Phillips of MacMaster University, reasons that the quality of protein you consume for muscle building with resistance training may be more important than you realize. In a recent article in Nutrition and Metabolism, Dr. Phillips reviewed the current science to examine the effects of the quality of supplemental protein on changes in muscle mass, strength and body composition when combined with strength training. His comprehensive inquiry suggests that based on the new proposed method to evaluate protein quality using its indispensable (or essential) amino acid composition and its digestibility, protein sources that provide leucine (an essential amino acid) – such as whey protein – are the strongest determinant of muscle protein synthesis and likely muscle growth.

“My assessment of the data on protein supplementation and resistance exercise reveals that the amount of leucine in a protein supplement has the greatest impact on muscle protein synthesis,” said, Dr. Phillips. “Leucine is not only a building block for protein, but a trigger for working muscles to synthesize more protein. In essence, it turns on muscle protein synthesis like a light switch so that over time, there could be greater gains in lean body mass and strength, and subsequently, body composition improvements.”

Proteins with the greatest content of leucine include whey protein isolate or concentrate. Whey protein is a milk protein that is considered high-quality due to its amino acid profile and high score for digestibility. Based on the culmination of data inspecting protein types and muscle protein synthesis, whey protein rated higher than other protein sources such as soy, pea or rice.

“The outcome of this review isn’t just applicable to strength trainers,” Dr. Phillips notes. “As we age, muscle loss becomes prevalent if we don’t thwart the decline. Leucine-rich whey protein supplementation, combined with resistance exercise, may be one way to help preserve muscle mass throughout the lifespan.”

While more research is warranted to further characterize proteins based on their quality, digestibility and amino acid profile, as well as to identify their impact on the aging population – at this point, consumers should reach for a leucine-containing protein supplement, like whey, to maximize gains from hard workouts.

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To read the complete review: http://nutritionandmetabolism.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12986-016-0124-8

About the Whey Protein Research Consortium

The Whey Protein Research Consortium (WPRC) is an international partnership of dairy cooperatives, associations, processors and multinational companies dedicated to working together to discover and share whey’s unique health benefits through scientific evidence since 2003. The WPRC uniquely serves the dairy industry by expanding global usage of whey protein through the research and amplification of its health benefits. The goal of the integrated research efforts is to develop a body of knowledge that establishes measurable whey protein health and wellness benefits, creating a strong foundation for the development of scientific substantiation to support new health, qualified health and structure function claims.

This study was funded and supported by the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, the National Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and the Canada Research Chairs program.

Article Source: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-10/pc-top102116.php

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Do Men Need More Protein Than Women?

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It’s often assumed that the nutritional requirements of men and women are almost identical. Women lose iron through menstrual bleeding and therefore may require somewhat more iron than men. Some might also argue that women need more calcium and/or vitamin D, since they have a higher risk of developing osteoporosis. Finally, women may require more of certain nutrients during pregnancy. But other than that, not much attention is given to gender-related differences in nutritional needs. This may be an oversight, as there is some evidence to suggest that men and women have different requirements when it comes to the intake of several important nutrients, one of which is protein.

Five pieces of evidence support the hypothesis that men require more protein per kilogram of body weight than women

Before we begin, let’s point out the obvious so there’s no confusion: Women need to consume fewer grams of protein per day than men to stay in nitrogen balance, because they tend to have a lower body weight. This is not controversial, and not what this article is about. Rather, the hypothesis of this article is that women require less protein per kilogram of body weight than men. In other words, even if you have a man and a woman who weigh exactly the same and have similar physical activity habits, the woman will still require somewhat less protein.

Five different pieces of evidence support this theory…

1. The evolutionary evidence

Throughout the evolution of our genus, Homo, males probably ate more protein than females (on average). Hunter-gatherer societies are characterized by a division of labour: the men go out hunting and scavenging, while the women dig for tubers, collect berries, and take care of children. This is not to say that the men never participate in the latter activities, or that it’s unheard of for forager women to go out on a hunt; but in general, it’s safe to say that there is a marked gender-related difference in terms of the type of labour performed. This is likely how it’s been for millions of years, and it’s still the way things are done today. The Hadza, for example, are known to adhere to this practice.

The men of these types of forager communities will certainly bring back meat – acquired during a hunt – to the camp, where the women and children await; however, they also tend to consume some of it by themselves. And even if they bring it back to camp, they may end up eating more of it than the women, particularly if the women have been out gathering and eating tubers and other plant foods all day.

It’s obviously difficult to say anything with certainty regarding exactly what our primal ancestors ate. That said, there is a lot we do know. My belief, based on everything I’ve read and seen, is that Paleolithic men probably ate more meat, and hence more protein, than women. Perhaps needless to say, these are average values. There would have been variations between different hunter-gatherer bands, depending on location, climate, etc.

What this means is that the diets that conditioned the genome of the male members of our genusHomo likely contained somewhat more protein than the diets that conditioned the genetic make-up of the female members of our genus. Hence, men may have evolved to require somewhat more protein than women.

2. Differences in body composition between men and women

Women have (on average) less lean body mass than men, in proportion to total body weight, and therefore require less protein to maintain a stable level of muscle mass. This point is a continuation from the last section, in the sense that the male members of our genus developed more muscular bodies than the females, in part because they were more physically active, engaging in activities (e.g., running) that require muscular strength.

In a Paleolithic environment, being physically fit was a definite advantage in terms of survival and reproduction, particularly for the males, who were involved in strenuous activities such as hunting. Hence, natural selection would have favored individuals that were strong and physically fit.

3. Gender-related differences in protein metabolism during and after exercise

There are differences between the genders in the metabolic response to exercise. Both male and female athletes require more protein than sedentary people; however, the increase in protein requirement may not be identical between the two sexes. A 2000 paper indicates that the maximal increase (above the level needed by a sedentary person) is approximately 100% for elite male athletes and approximately 50-60% for elite female athletes (1).

Furthermore, females show a smaller increase in lean body mass following acute creatine loading as compared to males (1), and may catabolize less protein than men consequent to endurance exercise (2). Also, perhaps needless to say, men build muscle at a faster rate than women and therefore require more protein to recover optimally from resistance training.

4. Nitrogen balance studies

Nitrogen balance studies indicate that women might have a lower protein requirement than men (3, 4, 5). For example, a 2014 meta-analysis of nitrogen balance studies found that “there was significant difference in the natural logarithm of protein requirement when comparing data from males and females, with resulting values of 108.85 mg N/kg·d and 97.51 mg N/kg·d, respectively” (4).

It should be noted that nitrogen balance studies may underestimate human protein requirements (5). Nevertheless, nitrogen balance analyses do give us some insights into what constitutes the minimal level of protein intake needed to avoid a deficiency. Also, they can be useful for determining differences in protein turnover between men and women.

Since men tend to carry more muscle mass than females, in proportion to total body weight, and have a somewhat different metabolic machinery, it’s not really a surprise that nitrogen balance studies suggest that men require slightly more protein per kilogram of body weight than women to avoid a negative nitrogen balance. The 2014 paper quoted above indicates that the difference isn’t huge, but it’s definitely there.

5. Observations and anecdotal reports

My experience and observations suggest that men crave and need more meat and protein than women. I’m sure others have observed the same. Observational studies and anecdotal reports are not the strongest form of evidence, but they certainly shouldn’t be dismissed as insignificant. I don’t think it’s just a cultural thing that we look upon a steak of meat as “man food”, whereas salads and other plant-based dishes are often associated with the opposite sex.

One of the things I’ve noticed when living with women is that they don’t seem to have the same craving for meat as men do. Whereas some men, including myself, seem to deteriorate, both physically and mentally, on a low-protein diet, women seem to have fewer problems with eating a mostly plant-based diet. This is not to say that men need huge amounts of meat every day to function optimally, or that women barely need any protein at all. All I’m saying is that men in general seem to have a stronger craving for meat than women do.

What does this mean for you?

In my mind, there’s no doubt that the vast majority of people will benefit from eating more protein than what the dietary guidelines, which are based on nitrogen balance studies, recommend. This goes for both men and women. Protein can help you lose weight, build lean muscle, curb undesirable food cravings, and combat chronic disease.

For optimal results, include moderate amounts of high-quality protein in every meal and derive at least 20% of your total calories from this macronutrient. The exact intake level that is perfect for you depends on several factors, such as your gender and physical activity level and the inflammatory status of your body. If you’re a female, you may require somewhat less protein than if you are a male.

If you are healthy and know how to listen to the signals your body is sending you, the best tip may simply be to listen to your body, and let your appetite guide you towards an appropriate intake of protein.

Written By: Eirik  Article Source: http://darwinian-medicine.com/do-men-need-more-protein-than-women/

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Scientists challenge recommendation that men with more muscle need more protein

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Sports nutrition recommendations may undergo a significant shift after research from the University of Stirling has found individuals with more muscle mass do not need more protein after resistance exercise.

Health and exercise scientists from Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence found no difference in the muscle growth response to protein after a full body workout between larger and smaller participants.

Kevin Tipton, Professor of Sport, Health and Exercise Science in the Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport, said: “There is a widely-held assumption that larger athletes need more protein, with nutrition recommendations often given in direct relation to body mass.

“In our study, participants completed a bout of whole-body resistance exercise, where earlier studies — on which protein recommendations are based — examined the response to leg-only exercise. This difference suggests the amount of muscle worked in a single session has a bigger impact on the amount of protein needed afterwards, than the amount of muscle in the body.”

Experts also found participants’ muscles were able to grow and recover from exercise better after a higher dose of protein.

Consuming 40 grams of protein after exercise was more effective at stimulating muscle growth than 20 grams. This increase occurred irrespective of the size of the participants.

Professor Tipton continued: “Until now the consensus among leading sports nutritionists, including the American College of Sports Medicine and the British Nutrition Foundation, is that weightlifters do not need more than around 25 grams of protein after exercise to maximally stimulate the muscle’s ability to grow.

“In order for nutritionists to recommend the correct amount of protein we first need to consider specific demands of the workout, regardless of athletes’ size. This throws commonly held recommendations into question and suggests the amount of protein our muscles need after exercise may be dependent on the type of workout performed. These results are limited to younger, trained men so we may see different results with other groups, such as older individuals or females digesting different amounts of protein.”

Young, resistance-trained males were recruited for the study and divided into two groups, one with lower lean body mass of less than 65 kilograms and one with higher lean body mass of more than 70 kilograms.

Each volunteer participated in two trials where they consumed protein after resistance exercise. In one trial participants consumed 20 grams of whey protein and in the second, they consumed 40 grams of whey protein after exercise. Scientists measured the muscle’s ability to grow at an increased rate with metabolic tracers and muscle biopsies.

Article Source: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-08/uos-scr082216.php

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Is It Important to Consume Protein Right After Working Out?

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You’ve all heard (or received) the advice that you must eat within a half hour of working out or your muscles will shrivel up and die #byegainz. Fearing the worst, you dutifully sprint from the gym floor to your protein shake and chug it down before hitting the shower. You let out a satisfied sigh of relief and smile knowing you beat the clock and conquered that pesky little anabolic window.

Sound familiar? I laugh because I can remember myself in a similar situation back when I first started lifting. Luckily, we don’t have to be quite as anal with our post-workout nutrient timing. It’s important, sure, but you’ve got more than a half hour to drink your protein shake (or whatever else you plan on having for your post-workout meal).

What’s the anabolic “window of opportunity”?

For those of you not familiar with the “anabolic window”, it’s defined as a period of time after working out when protein synthesis (the process of building muscle) is at its peak, thus making nutrient timing more important than other periods throughout the day.

Those who believe they must down a protein shake immediately after working out are attempting to rebuild damaged muscle tissue & restore depleted glycogen levels, thus preventing the body from going into a catabolic state.

But, is it really that important to have protein and carbohydrates immediately following your training session?

To answer that I’d like to show you some of the latest research from Alan Aragon and Brad Schoenfeld- two leading experts in the world of bodybuilding nutrition.

Alan and Brad conducted a thorough meta-analysis study looking at what all published research had concluded regarding post-workout nutrient timing and benefits. What they found may surprise you.

According to Alan Aragon & Brad Schoenfeld, this anabolic window is more like four to six hours, not thirty minutes (1).

While it doesn’t hurt to eat immediately following a workout, doing so isn’t necessary.

What’s most important when it comes to post-workout nutrient timing?

One factor that can make timing more important is the timing of your pre-workout meal. If you plan on working out in a fasted state or if it has been a long time since your last meal, consuming an immediate post-workout meal becomes more beneficial.

What’s more important though is not the exact amount of carbs and protein consumed post-workout but your overall consumption throughout the day. This is good news from a convenience perspective and especially for those who are used to toting around six Tupperware filled with their meals for the day.

What’s the key takeaway?

Unless you’re an elite endurance athlete, don’t feel like you need to rush home and down a shake or meal immediately following your workout. Focus on consuming an adequate amount of protein throughout the day and your muscle-building efforts won’t be thwarted.

Of course, there is nothing bad about eating immediately after your training session (it’s just not necessary).

Bottom line – do whatever is more convenient for you.

Personally, I usually eat 1-2 hours after working out, but this is just personal preference. Consume your pre and post-workout meals within 4-6 hours of each other and you’ll be fine (2).

Now go build those sexy muscles.

This article originally appeared on www.ProShapeFitness.com & http://www.huffingtonpost.com/melissa-edmonds/is-it-important-to-consume-protein-right-after-working-out_b_9418912.html?utm_hp_ref=healthy-living

Sources:
1. Aragon, Alan Albert, and Brad Jon Schoenfeld. “Nutrient Timing Revisited: Is There a Post-exercise Anabolic Window?” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. BioMed Central, 29 Jan. 2013. Web. 26 Feb. 2016.
2. Ivy, John L., and Brad J. Schoenfeld. “The Timing of Postexercise Protein Ingestion Is/Is Not Important.” Strength and Conditioning Journal 36.6 (2014): 51-55. NSCA. Web.

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Mature Muscle?

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A few weeks ago we tackled the importance of lean muscle mass in aging and its typical correlation with organ reserve. Conventional wisdom tells us that muscle is easiest to develop when you are young, that we tend to lose muscle as we age, and that it becomes more difficult to put on muscle as we grow older. We thought we’d investigate and give you a clearer picture of what the research has to say.

Just to review, we’re talking skeletal muscle here, which includes two types of fibers. Type I fibers are associated with endurance training, while type II fibers are associated with weight training. It’s true that adults do tend to lose muscle mass during typical aging (typical being the operative word here), and it’s the type II fibers that are depleted. Type I fibers are generally preserved. But the type II fibers, research is finding, play a crucial role in regulating the body’s metabolism. These guys help direct the activities of tissues in other systems of the body. Given their influential roles, maintaining type II fibers (i.e. muscle mass) as we age can reduce the risk for diabetes and obesity.

The fact is, resistance training can allow anyone to gain muscle mass at any age, and older adults, in most respects, can indeed keep up with their younger counterparts.

Let’s take a closer look.

A recent study examined the theory that mitochondrial dysfunction contributes to the loss of muscle mass as we age. The study compared older adult subjects’ strength levels and “gene expression profiles” before and after six months of weight training. Their tissue samples and strength levels were also compared with those of young adult subjects. Ready for some good news? Results showed that the weight training had allowed the older subjects to not only dramatically increase their strength but to reverse the aging process itself. Their genetic fingerprints had been “reversed to levels similar to those seen in the younger adults.” Granted, the older adults didn’t achieve the same strength levels as those of the younger set within the six month period. This result, however, isn’t to be taken as an absolute lesson in limitation.

An Ohio University study found that older subjects gained strength “at the same rate as untrained young men.” The older men didn’t achieve the same “heft,” but researchers noted that the difference in muscle size could at least partly be attributed to the “smaller, less developed” state of their muscle tissue upon beginning the study. Still, the older subjects experienced a 30-40 % growth in muscle and up to a 100% stamina increase at the end of 16 weeks.

With all this said, our upper years do take their toll on muscle mass. Research out the University of Minnesota (logically) shows that muscles with a higher proportion of type II fibers are impacted by age more than those muscles with a more balanced proportion of type I and type II fibers. While we’re able to rebuild muscle mass as older adults, we may not be able to rebuild it to the same degree as younger adults do. It can also take longer to recover between weight training sessions, which means our goals might take us longer than they would’ve a couple decades earlier. The University of Minnesota’s research, however, suggests that we have the ability to build muscle strengths into our nineties.

The lesson here? Building muscle is absolutely possible, but the best scenario is to both build and maintain muscle mass throughout your life.

Here are a few extra tips for doing just that.

Exercise: Include regular weight training in your fitness routine, and avoid the sabotages of chronic cardio. Check out the Dear Mark post this week for suggestions on a lifting and recovery routine as well as other activities to round out your work out program.

Nutrition: Grains and sugars not only cause inflammation, which perpetually taxes your organs, they throw off your hormone levels. (You definitely want to keep your endocrine system running in top shape.)

Obviously, protein is key. In our Pondering Protein post a few weeks ago, we mentioned the University of Texas at Galveston study that found older adults have the same capacity as their younger counterparts for converting protein-rich food into muscle. Earlier research, including a study out of the University of Nottingham, found that older adults had diminished ability to recognize and process amino acids. Their study, however, used protein drinks rather than actual food, which the Galveston study used. The researchers at Nottingham had suggested older adults eat a protein rich snack or meal directly following a weight training session, since they believed the body was better able to process protein post-workout.

We think there’s good advice to be taken from both studies. Older adults should certainly eat a protein-rich diet with natural protein food sources. In addition, it’s not a bad idea to go for that protein-rich snack after your weight workout. While we’re on the subject of protein, omega-3s from fish oil can enhance the conversion process of food protein to muscle protein. Be sure to include a good fish oil supplement in your diet.

Sleep: A good amount of shut-eye is imperative for the release of HGH (human growth hormone), which aids the development of muscle mass.

Other suggestions: Beyond the suggestions above, avoid toxins/additives/livestock hormones as much as possible. Endocrine disruption can lower testosterone levels and wreak other havoc in the body. Choose organic when you can and take other protective measures when you can’t, such as washing veggies and fruits well and looking for dairy and meats from livestock raised without hormones. Although we appreciate dietary fat around here, we’re not fans of the toxins found in meat and dairy fat. Of particular concern are dioxins, which can remain in the system for decades. (The kicker: dioxins are even found in organics as a result of acid rain on grass and feed grains.)

In short, those of us in the more “seasoned” crowd have all kinds of opportunity (and few excuses) to not give those youngsters at the gym a run for their money.

Source: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/muscle-aging/#axzz3yGOBiPaq

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Protein May Moderate Blood Pressure

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One of the most common risk factors of stroke and an accelerator of multiple forms of heart disease, especially when paired with excess body weight, high blood pressure (hypertension) is a leading chronic health concern worldwide.  Lynn Moore, from Boston University School of Medicine (Massachusetts, USA), and colleagues report that a diet rich in protein foods may help to lower elevated blood pressure.  The researchers analyzed protein intakes of healthy participants from the Framingham Offspring Study and followed them for development of high blood pressure over an 11-year period.  Data revealed that those adults who consumed more protein, whether from animal or plant sources, had statistically significantly lower systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure levels after four years of follow-up. In general, these beneficial effects were evident for both overweight (at/over 25 kg/m2 BMI) and normal weight (at/less than 25 kg/m2 BMI) individuals. The investigators also found that consuming more dietary protein also was associated with lower long-term risks for high blood pressure. When the diet also was characterized by higher intakes of fiber, higher protein intakes led to 40–60% reductions in risk.  Observing that: “Higher protein intakes were associated with lower mean [systolic blood pressure] and [diastolic blood pressure],” the study authors conclude that: “Adults consuming more dietary protein from either plant or animal sources had lower long-term risks of [high blood pressure].

Source:http://www.worldhealth.net/news/protein-may-moderate-blood-pressure/

 

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