New research published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, revealed high protein diets in older men did not increase muscle mass, nor provide any overall health improvement.
The researchers categorized 92 functionally-limited participants, all of whom were 65-years-old or above, into several groups to try intervention methods prior to adverse health conditions setting in. The groups included people on a high-protein diet, men who were given testosterone injections, and also people eating their recommended daily protein intake combined with placebo injections. The results compared the health of each focus group upon lean body mass, physical prowess, fatigue, and their overall feeling of well-being.
The group who ate more protein didn’t increase their muscle mass, nor improve physical functionality, wellbeing, or their body’s responsiveness to testosterone, compared to the group that ate less protein. These revelations suggest dietary policymakers should reevaluate the recommendations for protein intake as the current research is outdated, says the nonprofit health organization Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, which reviewed the research.
Regardless of the amount of protein one is eating, many nutritionists and medical professionals suggest that people should shift their focus instead to the types of protein they are consuming. A 2017 study found that plant protein builds muscle the same as animal protein but provides fewer serious risks than animal-based protein sources, namely no cholesterol, lower saturated fats, decreased risk of exposure to foodborne illnesses, and some studies even suggest a decreased risk of developing certain types of cancer. Higher levels of animal protein in the human body have even been shown to enhance the risks of cancerous tumors and other diseases such as diabetes.
Despite the stigma surrounding diets that rely on plant protein, protein deficiencies are few and far between. Most people who eat a modern Westernized diet are likely already eating double their daily recommended protein intake, not to mention double the calories. Excessive protein can pose a par-optimal risk to health, even for people working on muscle gains. The forthcoming film “The Game Changers” aims at dispelling the myth that animal protein is necessary for elite athletes.