Eat This to Maintain Your Muscles

Worried about losing muscle mass as you shed weight? The solution may be to add more protein to your diet.
Women naturally lose muscle and strength as they age, more so than men. For older women who are on a diet, consuming more protein may help preserve muscle mass and foster a better muscle-to-fat body composition.

Protein Pick-Me-Up
In a recent study, 31 postmenopausal women were divided into two groups, with each group on a 1,400-calorie diet. One group consumed a powdered whey protein supplement twice a day, while the other group received a placebo containing carbohydrates. Everyone in the study was encouraged to do light exercise, such as walking and stretching. 
 
Researchers assessed the women’s strength, balance, and ability to do physical tasks, such as getting up from a chair and lifting a book above shoulder height, before and after the study. Magnetic resonance imaging was used to gauge the muscle volume of each woman’s right thigh and to measure the amount of fat around the thigh and within the thigh muscle.

Thigh Masters
After 6 months, both groups had lost weight -- and strength. But the women consuming additional protein lost 3.9 percent more weight than the placebo group and gained 5.8 percent more thigh muscle. This led to better balance and improved task performance. (Related: Find out why it’s smart to have a little protein with every meal or snack.)

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