A recently published randomized controlled trial found that high protein intake from lean beef, compared with moderate intake, did not help middle-aged adults get stronger faster when they undertook a resistance training program. Starting in our 40s and 50s, we all lose muscle as we age. Eating extra protein above the recommended 0.8 grams per kilogram per day (g/kg/d) has been recommended for muscle building and preservation, especially in combination with resistance training, with some sources suggesting older adults should aim for up to 1.2 g/kg/d or more.
Fifty untrained, healthy, middle-aged adults (ages 42 to 58) participated in resistance training three times a week for 10 weeks. These participants were randomized to follow either a “moderate” protein diet (1.0 g/kg/d) or a “high” protein diet (1.2 g/kg/d). They recieved nutrition counselling to help meet their goals and were provided with either 15 or 30 grams (g) extra protein from lean beef or beef protein powder after each training session and every evening.
At the end of 10 weeks, maximal strength (the maximum amount of weight that could be lifted one time) for every upper and lower body exercise significantly increased for all participants. There were no significant differences seen between the two protein intake groups.
Overall, this study does not support loading up on extra red meat to build muscle, even in combination with weight training.