Dietary Protein to Maintain Muscle Mass in Aging: A Case for Per-meal Protein Recommendations

J Frailty Aging. 2016;5(1):49-58. doi: 10.14283/jfa.2016.80.


It is well accepted that daily protein intake is an important dietary consideration to limit and treat age-related declines in muscle mass, strength, and function. Furthermore, we propose that there is a growing appreciation for the need to consider protein intake on a per-meal basis rather than simply focusing on the total daily protein intake. The existence of a saturable dose-response relationship between muscle protein synthesis (MPS) and the quantity of protein consumed in a single meal/bolus provides the rationale for promoting an even/balanced pattern of daily protein intake. We hypothesize that a balanced/even protein intake pattern with the ingestion a quantity of protein shown to optimally stimulate MPS at each meal may be an effective strategy to alleviate sarcopenic muscle loss. In this review we examine the available evidence supporting the influence of dietary protein intake pattern on muscle protein turnover, muscle mass, and muscle function. We present several practical considerations that, it is proposed, should be taken into account when translating a per-meal protein recommendation into dietary advice for older adults.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Dietary Proteins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism
  • Physical Conditioning, Human* / methods
  • Physical Conditioning, Human* / physiology
  • Recommended Dietary Allowances*
  • Sarcopenia* / metabolism
  • Sarcopenia* / prevention & control


  • Dietary Proteins