Dietary meat and protection against sarcopenia

Meat Sci. 2018 Oct;144:180-185. doi: 10.1016/j.meatsci.2018.06.023. Epub 2018 Jun 19.


Sarcopenia describes the age-related loss of skeletal muscle mass and associated muscle weakness. Sarcopenia is a major global health problem given that the number and proportion of older people in the population is escalating worldwide and represent the fastest growing segment of society. The loss of muscle mass compromises physical capacity, increases susceptibility to falls, and impacts on an individual's functional independence and quality of life. Tackling sarcopenia sensibly and effectively will identify strategies that will enable older adults to age well and age productively. The underlying causes of sarcopenia are complex and multifactorial and will likely require combinatorial therapies to address its symptoms. Nutrition, particularly protein intake, is a more easily modifiable factor, especially when combined with structured (resistance) exercise programs. The relative success of protein feeding strategies for sarcopenia, is limited by a so-called anabolic resistance in older people. Meat contains essential amino acids and nutritive compounds of high quality, and even a moderate intake can increase muscle protein synthesis in older men and women. However, health risks have been identified with the consumption of different meats, with high intake of processed meats increasing the risk for cardiovascular disease and different cancers. Risks for fresh white and red meat are considerably less and modest consumption is encouraged as part of a healthy eating plan for many older adults to ensure adequate protein intake. Other nutritive strategies of relevance for sarcopenia involve fortifying the nutrient value of different meats. Studies on muscle cells and animal models of muscle wasting, have identified the therapeutic potential of the amino acid, glycine, to reduce inflammation, attenuate muscle atrophy, and re-sensitize muscle to anabolic stimuli. Glycine supplementation or feeding animal products with a high glycine content (e.g. gelatin), could represent simple and effective nutritional strategies as part of a suite of therapies to attenuate sarcopenia.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diet*
  • Dietary Proteins / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Proteins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Meat*
  • Muscle Proteins / metabolism
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Sarcopenia / pathology*
  • Sarcopenia / prevention & control*


  • Dietary Proteins
  • Muscle Proteins