Does the combination of resistance training and a nutritional intervention have a synergic effect on muscle mass, strength, and physical function in older adults? A systematic review and meta-analysis

BMC Geriatr. 2021 Nov 12;21(1):639. doi: 10.1186/s12877-021-02491-5.


Background: Health-promoting interventions are important for preventing frailty and sarcopenia in older adults. However, there is limited evidence that nutritional interventions yield additional effects when combined with resistance training. This systematic review and meta-analysis aimed to compare the effectiveness of nutritional interventions with resistance training and that of resistance training alone.

Methods: Randomized controlled trials published in peer-reviewed journals prior to July 2020 were retrieved from databases and other sources. The articles were screened according to the inclusion and exclusion criteria. The methodological quality of the included studies was assessed using Cochrane's risk of bias tool 2. A meta-analysis was performed using the RevMan 5.4 program and STATA 16 program.

Results: A total of 22 studies were included in the meta-analysis. The results of the meta-analysis showed no significant differences between groups in muscle mass, muscle strength, or physical functional performance. In the subgroup analysis regarding the types of nutritional interventions, creatine showed significant effects on lean body mass (n = 4, MD 2.61, 95% CI 0.51 to 4.72). Regarding the other subgroup analyses, there were no significant differences in appendicular skeletal muscle mass (p = .43), hand grip strength (p = .73), knee extension strength (p = .09), chair stand test results (p = .31), or timed up-and-go test results (p = .31). In the meta-regression, moderators such as the mean age of subjects and duration of interventions were not associated with outcome variables.

Conclusions: This meta-analysis showed that nutritional interventions with resistance training have no additional effect on body composition, muscle strength, or physical function. Only creatine showed synergistic effects with resistance training on muscle mass.

Trial registration: CRD42021224843 .

Keywords: Exercise; Frailty; Nutrition; Older adults; Resistance training; Sarcopenia.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Hand Strength
  • Humans
  • Muscle Strength
  • Muscle, Skeletal
  • Muscles
  • Resistance Training*
  • Sarcopenia* / prevention & control