As our nation ages, so does the percentage of older massage clients, many of whom are concerned with aging as healthfully as possible.

New research indicates that protein drinks help middle-age-and-older subjects build more formidable muscles than their counterparts who drink carbohydrate beverages.

The report shows that protein drinks after aerobic activity increases the training effect after six weeks, when compared to carbohydrate drinks. Additionally, this study suggests that this effect can be seen using as little as 20 grams of protein.

To make this discovery, scientists recruited 16 participants age 37 and older and instructed them to exercise on treadmills for 45 minutes three times a week for six weeks, according to a press release from the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. After each bout of exercise, one group was given a protein drink and another group was given a carbohydrate drink. To measure the making of new structures in the muscle, metabolic pathways were measured using heavy water labeling.

Subjects consumed heavy water, which becomes incorporated into many synthetic processes allowing measurement of the rates at which different components of the muscle are being made.

Using ultra-sensitive mass spectrometry methods, scientists took muscle samples at the end of the six weeks and were able to determine how much of the muscle and its component pieces were new. In this case, new proteins, DNA, and membranes were measured. This showed that endurance exercise, commonly prescribed for older people for a healthful lifestyle, induces positive changes in skeletal muscle structure.

“If you want to age gracefully, this study shows that proteins taken after exercise keep your muscles strong and fit,” Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of the FASEB Journal. “You’ve got to feed your body with the proper nutrients after a work-out. Fortunately, protein shakes are cheap, readily available and some say taste good.”

The research was published in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.

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