Resistance exercise enhances myofibrillar protein synthesis with graded intakes of whey protein in older men

Yifan Yang, Leigh Breen, Nicholas A. Burd, Amy J. Hector, Tyler A. Churchward-Venne, Andrea R. Josse, M. A. Tarnopolsky, Stuart M. Phillips

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Feeding stimulates robust increases in muscle protein synthesis (MPS); however, ageing may alter the anabolic response to protein ingestion and the subsequent aminoacidaemia. With this as background, we aimed to determine in the present study the dose-response of MPS with the ingestion of isolated whey protein, with and without prior resistance exercise, in the elderly. For the purpose of this study, thirty-seven elderly men (age 71 (sd 4) years) completed a bout of unilateral leg-based resistance exercise before ingesting 0, 10, 20 or 40g of whey protein isolate (W0-W40, respectively). Infusion of l-[1- 13C]leucine and l-[ring-13C6]phenylalanine with bilateral vastus lateralis muscle biopsies were used to ascertain whole-body leucine oxidation and 4h post-protein consumption of MPS in the fed-state of non-exercised and exercised leg muscles. It was determined that whole-body leucine oxidation increased in a stepwise, dose-dependent manner. MPS increased above basal, fasting values by approximately 65 and 90% for W20 and W40, respectively (P<0.05), but not with lower doses of whey. While resistance exercise was generally effective at stimulating MPS, W20 and W40 ingestion post-exercise increased MPS above W0 and W10 exercised values (P<0.05) and W40 was greater than W20 (P<0.05). Based on the study, the following conclusions were drawn. At rest, the optimal whey protein dose for non-frail older adults to consume, to increase myofibrillar MPS above fasting rates, was 20g. Resistance exercise increases MPS in the elderly at all protein doses, but to a greater extent with 40g of whey ingestion. These data suggest that, in contrast to younger adults, in whom post-exercise rates of MPS are saturated with 20g of protein, exercised muscles of older adults respond to higher protein doses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1780-1788
Number of pages9
JournalBritish Journal of Nutrition
Issue number10
StatePublished - Nov 28 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Hypertrophy
  • Protein metabolism
  • Sarcopenia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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