Background: Protein and Exercise Recovery
Protein, particularly from animal sources, is known to help our muscles recover after a workout. This is especially true for younger people.
But what about older adults, and what if the protein comes from plants instead of animals? This study took a closer look at these questions.
Methods: Comparing Pea Protein, Whey Protein, and a Placebo
The study involved 47 older adults who stayed active by exercising regularly. Each person was randomly assigned to one of three groups:
- The first group took 25 grams of whey protein (which comes from milk) each day.
- The second group took 25 grams of pea protein each day.
- The third group took a placebo that had the same number of calories as the protein supplements.
After 13 days of taking these supplements, the participants went on a long walk, covering a distance of 20-30 km.
The researchers then measured several things to see how the participants’ muscles were doing.
They looked at blood levels of two enzymes (creatine kinase or CK, and lactate dehydrogenase or LDH), which rise when muscles get damaged.
They also measured muscle mass, muscle strength, and muscle soreness at various points before and after the walk.
Results: Whey Protein Helps, But Pea Protein Doesn’t
After the long walk, two participants dropped out, leaving 15 people in each group.
Those who took whey protein had significantly lower levels of CK compared to the other two groups, suggesting less muscle damage.
However, the pea protein group did not show the same benefit. Also, there were no differences in LDH levels, muscle strength, muscle mass, or muscle soreness among the three groups.
Conclusion: Choose Your Protein Wisely for Exercise Recovery
So, what’s the take-home message? If you’re an older adult and you want to protect your muscles during a workout, whey protein might be a good choice.
Pea protein, on the other hand, might not offer the same benefits, at least not in the amounts used in this study.
But remember, everyone’s body is different, and what works best for one person might not work as well for another.
Always consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen.
The research was published in Nutrients.
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