Background: Older individuals generally experience a reduced food-chewing efficiency. As a consequence, food texture may represent an important factor that modulates dietary protein digestion and absorption kinetics and the subsequent postprandial protein balance.
Objective: We assessed the effect of meat texture on the dietary protein digestion rate, amino acid availability, and subsequent postprandial protein balance in vivo in older men.
Design: Ten older men (mean ± SEM age: 74 ± 2 y) were randomly assigned to a crossover experiment that involved 2 treatments in which they consumed 135 g of specifically produced intrinsically L-[1-(13)C]phenylalanine-labeled beef, which was provided as beef steak or minced beef. Meat consumption was combined with continuous intravenous L-[ring-(2)H5]phenylalanine and L-[ring-(2)H2]tyrosine infusion to assess beef protein digestion and absorption kinetics as well as whole-body protein balance and skeletal muscle protein synthesis rates.
Results: Meat protein-derived phenylalanine appeared more rapidly in the circulation after minced beef than after beef steak consumption (P < 0.05). Also, its availability in the circulation during the 6-h postprandial period was greater after minced beef than after beef steak consumption (61 ± 3% compared with 49 ± 3%, respectively; P < 0.01). The whole-body protein balance was more positive after minced beef than after beef steak consumption (29 ± 2 compared with 19 ± 3 μmol phenylalanine/kg, respectively; P < 0.01). Skeletal muscle protein synthesis rates did not differ between treatments when assessed over a 6-h postprandial period.
Conclusions: Minced beef is more rapidly digested and absorbed than beef steak, which results in increased amino acid availability and greater postprandial protein retention. However, this does not result in greater postprandial muscle protein synthesis rates. This trial was registered at clinicaltrials.gov as NCT01145131.