Supplementing Breakfast with a Vitamin D and Leucine-Enriched Whey Protein Medical Nutrition Drink Enhances Postprandial Muscle Protein Synthesis and Muscle Mass in Healthy Older Men

J Nutr. 2017 Dec;147(12):2262-2271. doi: 10.3945/jn.117.252510. Epub 2017 Aug 23.


Background: A promising strategy to help older adults preserve or build muscle mass is to optimize muscle anabolism through providing an adequate amount of high-quality protein at each meal.Objective: This "proof of principle" study investigated the acute effect of supplementing breakfast with a vitamin D and leucine-enriched whey protein medical nutrition drink on postprandial muscle protein synthesis and longer-term effect on muscle mass in healthy older adults.Methods: A randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study was conducted in 24 healthy older men [mean ± SD: age 71 ± 4 y; body mass index (in kg/m2) 24.7 ± 2.8] between September 2012 and October 2013 at the Unit of Human Nutrition, University of Auvergne, Clermont-Ferrand, France. Participants received a medical nutrition drink [test group; 21 g leucine-enriched whey protein, 9 g carbohydrates, 3 g fat, 800 IU cholecalciferol (vitamin D3), and 628 kJ] or a noncaloric placebo (control group) before breakfast for 6 wk. Mixed muscle protein fractional synthesis rate (FSR) was measured at week 0 in the basal and postprandial state, after study product intake with a standardized breakfast with the use of l-[2H5]-phenylalanine tracer methodology. The longer-term effect of the medical nutrition drink was evaluated by measurement of appendicular lean mass, representing skeletal muscle mass at weeks 0 and 6, by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry.Results: Postprandial FSR (0-240 min) was higher in the test group than in the control group [estimate of difference (ED): 0.022%/h; 95% CI: 0.010%/h, 0.035%/h; ANCOVA, P = 0.001]. The test group gained more appendicular lean mass than the control group after 6 wk (ED: 0.37 kg; 95% CI: 0.03, 0.72 kg; ANCOVA, P = 0.035), predominantly as leg lean mass (ED: 0.30 kg; 95% CI: 0.03, 0.57 kg; ANCOVA, P = 0.034).Conclusions: Supplementing breakfast with a vitamin D and leucine-enriched whey protein medical nutrition drink stimulated postprandial muscle protein synthesis and increased muscle mass after 6 wk of intervention in healthy older adults and may therefore be a way to support muscle preservation in older people. This trial was registered at as NTR3471.

Keywords: leucine; muscle mass; muscle protein synthesis; protein intake; sarcopenia; vitamin D.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Beverages / analysis*
  • Breakfast
  • Diet
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Energy Intake
  • Food Analysis
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Leucine / administration & dosage*
  • Male
  • Muscle Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Muscle, Skeletal
  • Postprandial Period
  • Vitamin D / administration & dosage*
  • Whey Proteins / administration & dosage*
  • Whey Proteins / chemistry*


  • Muscle Proteins
  • Whey Proteins
  • Vitamin D
  • Leucine

Associated data

  • NTR/NTR3471