Protein Considerations for Optimising Skeletal Muscle Mass in Healthy Young and Older Adults

Nutrients. 2016 Mar 23;8(4):181. doi: 10.3390/nu8040181.


Skeletal muscle is critical for human health. Protein feeding, alongside resistance exercise, is a potent stimulus for muscle protein synthesis (MPS) and is a key factor that regulates skeletal muscle mass (SMM). The main purpose of this narrative review was to evaluate the latest evidence for optimising the amino acid or protein source, dose, timing, pattern and macronutrient coingestion for increasing or preserving SMM in healthy young and healthy older adults. We used a systematic search strategy of PubMed and Web of Science to retrieve all articles related to this review objective. In summary, our findings support the notion that protein guidelines for increasing or preserving SMM are more complex than simply recommending a total daily amount of protein. Instead, multifactorial interactions between protein source, dose, timing, pattern and macronutrient coingestion, alongside exercise, influence the stimulation of MPS, and thus should be considered in the context of protein recommendations for regulating SMM. To conclude, on the basis of currently available scientific literature, protein recommendations for optimising SMM should be tailored to the population or context of interest, with consideration given to age and resting/post resistance exercise conditions.

Keywords: amino acid availability; macronutrient coingestion; muscle hypertrophy; muscle protein synthesis; protein dose; protein pattern; protein source; protein timing.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aging
  • Amino Acids / administration & dosage
  • Amino Acids / pharmacology
  • Diet
  • Dietary Proteins / administration & dosage*
  • Dietary Proteins / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle, Skeletal / growth & development*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism*


  • Amino Acids
  • Dietary Proteins