Protein Supplements Work To A Point
Researchers, led by Stuart Phillips, Kinesiology, have found dietary protein supplements can significantly improve muscle strength and size when taken by healthy adults who lift weights. The study, published online in the British Journal of Sports Medicine
and reported in The New York Times
, also found that the effects of protein supplements are not as big as some supplement companies say.
Researchers combed through thousands of studies searching for specific criteria, including randomized controlled trials, human participants and study durations of at least six weeks. In all, they analyzed 49 high-quality individual studies with 1863 participants.
The benefits of protein supplements increase with resistance training experience but become less effective in older adults, pointing to a need for greater supplementation to reach optimal results as we age. And there is a limit to the amount of protein that is beneficial, plateauing at roughly 1.6 grams of dietary protein per kilogram of bodyweight per day.
“There have been mixed messages sent to clinicians, dieticians, and ultimately practitioners about the efficacy of protein supplementation,” says Robert Morton, lead author on the study and a PhD student in the Exercise Metabolism Research Group at McMaster. “This meta-analysis puts that debate to rest.”
Understanding Environmental Adaptation Via The “Elite Athletes” of The Natural World
Animals that live at high altitudes are among the most resilient in the natural world. Graham Scott, Biology, has spent much of his career trying to understand what it is that makes high altitude animals able to not just survive, but thrive in harsh conditions. In many ways, these animals are the “elite” athletes of the natural world.
As global temperatures and carbon dioxide levels continue to rise, his research can help predict how species that live at both high and low altitudes might fare in the face of climate change. He and his team have been studying deer mice in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and duck species native to the Peruvian Andes to learn more about how the unique physiology of high altitude animals helps them withstand their challenging environments. Understanding more about their adaptions to extreme environments may have important implications – for both human and environmental health as our climate shifts.
Scott, a Canada Research Chair in Comparative and Environmental Physiology, believes that the research can also shed light on high altitude diseases suffered by people around the world. “By trying to understand how animals overcome or avoid suffering these diseases, we’re gaining insight into these conditions,” he says.