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Whey protein helps rebuild muscle after illness

Older adults lose muscle mass from inactivity and illness.

In this study, 16 men and 15 women, aged 65 to 80, took 30 grams of whey protein, or 30 grams of collagen peptides, per day, for five weeks. Whey is a complete protein, rich in leucine and all essential amino acids, while collagen peptides are lower in these nutrients.

For two weeks during the five-week study, participants limited daily walking to 750 steps and reduced food by 500 calories per day to mimic what someone might experience during a hospital stay. After this, participants returned to normal activity for one week.

Both groups lost muscle mass during the limited walking and limited calorie phase, but the whey group recovered more skeletal muscle mass than the collagen group after resuming normal muscle-building activities. Whey protein, a more complete protein, was superior to collagen protein, which is not a complete protein. However, collagen has better benefits in other applications.

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