After 16 weeks, researchers saw ‘significant’ declines in so-called ‘bad’ cholesterol levels in older people given whey protein drinks alongside an exercise regime.
A higher-protein diet alongside exercise may contribute to reducing the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease in older adults, according to research.
Higher-protein diets, containing lean meat, chicken, fish and dairy products, have soared in popularity across the globe in the past decade and the researchers said their findings are particularly important for the world’s ageing population.
Researchers from Liverpool Hope University and the University of Melbourne focused on a group of 100 older men and women from the UK with an average age of 68 years.
The research itself split the test subjects – 52 per cent of whom were women – into four groups.
Alongside a control, some were just asked to exercise; others tasked with exercise and consuming a popular, well-known whey protein drink three times per day; and the final group purely enjoyed the whey protein shake – concentrated form of milk protein favoured by bodybuilders – without exercising.
The amount of whey protein given to test subjects depended on their individual body weight.
The researchers suggest that whey protein enriched with leucine – an essential amino acid used in the biosynthesis of proteins which can also help control blood sugar through the hormone insulin – can lower levels of LDL cholesterol.
This is the so-called “bad” type of cholesterol which clings to arterial walls and makes you more likely to have heart problems or a stroke, according to the NHS.
Some test subjects even saw cardiovascular health benefits from protein supplementation alone, without necessarily needing to exercise.
The exercise and the exercise and protein groups performed one bout of circuit training exercises once a week, which included lunges, star jumps and a mini obstacle course.
After 16 weeks, researchers saw “significant” declines in LDL-cholesterol levels in both the exercise and protein, and the solely protein, groups.
There were also positive changes in insulin levels for both the exercise and protein, and the protein cohorts.
Hope’s Associate Professor Farzad Amirabdollahian, who led the work, said: “There are several previous studies demonstrating the musculoskeletal health benefits of exercise and high-protein diet.
“But in the current study, we have examined the impact of a high-protein diet, with or without exercise, on a range of blood biomarkers associated with risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
And it is fascinating to see the impact of a high-protein diet and exercise on the reduction of risk of these diseases.”
(Story source: Inews)