Friday, October 16, 2015


I’ve been working out a lot this year in order to take part in the 105 mile Coast to Coast challenge; a two day event in September involving running, cycling and kayaking across Scotland. It was hard but I recovered well thanks to a good amount of high quality protein in my diet.
We are often told that we eat too much protein in developed countries but this really depends on your age and how much exercise you do. Yes, average intakes are above general recommendations of around 55g per day but two groups in particular need more than that; elderly folk and people taking part in regular exercise.

Studies show that, once we hit 50 years of age, our muscle mass begins to decline. This increases the risk of sarcopenia which, in later life, causes muscle wasting and may exacerbate falls. High quality protein, such as that found in red meat, helps to maintain muscle size and strength particularly when combined with resistance training[1] .

In fact, the evidence for protein’s important role in muscle function is so compelling it has been recognised by European regulators. These watchdogs have rejected hundreds of health claims but have given the approval to the statement that protein “contributes to a growth in muscle mass”.

Any food or drink which provides at least 12% of its energy from protein — as almost all red meat does [2]  — is authorised to include this important health message on packaging and marketing materials. Some cuts, such as lean rump (18%) or pork chops (20%) contain an even higher percentage of energy in the form of protein [3].

Fitness fans can also benefit from slightly more protein, especially after training sessions to help support muscle recovery. In my new review in Complete Nutrition [4] , I discuss international protein recommendations for sports enthusiasts and explain how high protein foods, such as red meat, contribute to optimal performance.

[1] Goisser et al. (2015) Sarcopenic obesity and complex interventions with nutrition and exercise in community-dwelling older persons--a narrative review. Clin Interv Aging 10: 1267-82.

Calculation for rump example: 100 divided by 176 (cals) multiplied by 31.2 (protein per 100g) equals 17.7, rounded up to 18%
[4] Ruxton C & Cobb R (2015) Benefits of protein for sport and exercise. Complete Nutrition in press.

No comments :