Protein power: Study suggests eating protein at all 3 meals helps preserve seniors' strength

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Older adults may be able to stay stronger for longer periods of time if they eat protein at all three meals, a new study suggests.

The research was conducted at Canada's McGill University by a team of researchers looking to see how distributing protein consumption throughout the day impacted seniors' physical conditions. The study followed more than 1,700 healthy adults, ranging in age from 67 to 84.

Over the three years of the study, the team found that all participants experienced declines in their muscle strength and mobility. But those subjects who ate protein throughout the day retained more muscle strength, compared to those who consumed the majority of their protein at dinner.

While the study only found an association between spread-out protein consumption and preserved muscle strength, not a direct conclusion, researchers say their results can still benefit seniors.

“The important point is to create three meal occasions with sufficient protein to stimulate muscle building and greater strength, instead of just one,” co-author Stephanie Chevalier, Ph.D., told MedlinePlus last week.

The study appears in the July issue of American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.