Middle-aged Men, Muscle Mass Is Why You Need To Eat More Meat
    By News Staff | February 4th 2013 01:30 PM | 16 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments

    People lose muscle mass, and find it harder to maintain, as they age, and so researchers have ben investigating ways to delay or counteract age-related muscle loss.

    A study conducted by the Exercise Metabolism Research Group at McMaster University suggests that current guidelines for meat consumption are based on the protein needed to prevent deficiency without consideration for preservation of muscle mass, particularly for older individuals who are looking to maintain their muscle as they age. 

    Thirty-five middle-aged men (~59 years old) participated in a study that found that eating a 6-ounce serving of 85% lean ground beef resulted in significant improvements in the rate of muscle protein synthesis following exercise.

    The investigators measured muscle protein synthesis (MPS), which is essential to the body's ongoing growth, repair and maintenance of skeletal muscle in men who did and did not lift weights.

    What researchers determined was that the quantity of beef needed for optimal MPS for this age group is double the current recommended serving size of meat.

     "Canada's Food Guide now suggests that consuming about 3oz (0.80 g/kg/d) of meat per serving is adequate to provide protein at the recommended level," says Dr. Stuart Phillips, the study's senior author and a researcher with the Exercise Metabolism Research Group at McMaster University. "However, our work shows that the quantity of beef needed to maximize the renewal of new muscle proteins was at least 6oz in middle-aged men. Our findings have clear ramifications for the current recommendations regarding protein to prevent muscle loss in aging."

    Published in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism.


    I wrote to Stuart Phillips at McMaster's asking him why they specifically chose beef as their source of protein in their study. They write:
    Beef is a nutrient-rich source of dietary protein capable of stimulating muscle protein synthesis (MPS) rates in older men at rest. 
    In another paper , one of the authors discusses how not all proteins (i.e soy )are equal in such a task (even when considering  protein digestibility-corrected amino acid scores).  But there's no mention of how protein from other mammals or fish, crustaceans, chicken or anything else on the Tasmanian devil's menu compare in stimulating MPS in old men who do not exercise.

    I'm awaiting his response.
    Isn't the complex protein value of red meat pretty well established? At least in elite weightlifters it always has to be part of the mix, supplements don't seem to cut it.
    Here's the researcher's reply:
    E Uva: We’ve done lots of work with other protein sources.However, beef is a great choice given its nutrient density – iron, zinc, B-12– per protein serve. It’s also time for people to stop saying that beef is a‘bad’ protein source because of the fat content. The highest fat source in beef is actually monounsaturated! In fact, prudent diets with high beef content actually result in lowered blood lipids – see 
    We’ve looked a dairy-based proteins and shown that they’re superior to soy on a number of occasions – attached. Since neither fish nor chicken commodities offer research-based grants in this country it’s hard for me to do a study (each of these studies costs a lot of money to do) on those protein sources. However, they’re good sources of protein.
    Best regards,
    Stuart M. Phillips, Ph.D. FACN, FACSM
    Professor, Department of Kinesiology
    Exercise Metabolism Research Group
    McMaster University
    The Stand-Up Physicist
    The first paragraph had a kind of pro-meat marketing spin.  The second paragraph appears to indicate that his grants come from the beef industry.  Next study will be triple the meat.  We don't need no stinkin' chickens.
    The first paragraph had a kind of pro-meat marketing spin.  The second paragraph appears to indicate that his grants come from the beef industry.
        High probability in both cases. 

    Everyone gets funding from somewhere. What is the flawless apolitical, neutral funding source we are comparing it to?  And when the established consensus on food becomes 'pro-meat marketing spin' we are lost.  These are the same arguments alternative medicine people use about real medicine.
    The Stand-Up Physicist
    The least reliable science is work on a product in the marketplace funded directly from a business that directly makes money off that very product.  This was true of studies funded by the tabacco industry about smoking.  It is true about real drug  companies and their studies which require vigilant independent oversight (and such oversight can fail as is the way of science).  I am disappointed that the News Staff either did not find out the funding source or chose not to report it.  This is skepticism 101.
    That is faux skepticism 101 - it is why some people deny climate science, if it is funded by a government run by leftwing people. If you are calling the researcher unethical and saying they are producing results that were determined in advance by Big Meat or whatever, come out and say it, but you should not and cannot imply it without being challenged.  

    There is no pure funding source from which the motivations of any researcher taking money is absolved of all implication.  It's charming that you think Kleenex would fund studies on meat - I guess that would make the funding source ethically neutral to you - but it is unlikely to happen.  Government funding is far more likely to have manipulation than private sector funding, since the names of the people on the committee awarding the grants and their political voting record and affiliations are never, ever included in disclosure statements.

    The Stand-Up Physicist
    The news staff should report the funding source.  Basic science reporting, basic.  One doesn't and probably shouldn't make a big deal about it, but that information should be included.

    I don't know for certain if Big Cow Meat funded the study, but it does sound like it.  That funding source may have curtailed the reach of the the study: why didn't they use chicken instead?  That would be a case of a perfectly ethical research study limited by its funding.  There may well be other studies funded by the poultry business that says chicken is better because ... actually, I don't care.  This is direct money in, study out from a business that depends on subject at hand.  As soon as the "Exercise Metabolism Research Group" comes out with a study that says "meat makes you fat and weak" would mean the end of funding from Big Cow Meat (if that is where the money is coming from, I don't know).
    "Government funding is far more likely to have manipulation than private sector funding"
    Bull.  Say there is the BCM Research Council funded by ranchers.  Joe gets funding from them, shows that more meat means people get fatter.  Is that guy going to get a follow up study?  No way, might as well fund the guy who gets the "right" results.  It is a necessarily biased funding source.  The ranchers are not going keep funding the fictional BCM Research Council.  It can only fund studies that have good news about its product.  I have avoided studies of cigarettes funded by tabacco in the past, and I will avoid studies of fish done by fisheries in the future.  Less to read, but I avoid suche science.

    Government funding is a political arena.  No doubt about it.  In some ways it is purely political, with the issue being one's reputation as a "good scientist" being on the line.  Get a lot of string theorists on a review board, and loop quantum gravity is not going to do so well.  It is not flawless, but I believe it is the best we have.

    The news staff should report the funding source. Basic science reporting, basic.
    Well, that is a different issue. The organization behind the research writes the press release, so if they don't include funding source, they don't include it - they are the ones paying people to write these things. The studies are behind paywalls so expecting Science 2.0 to buy a subscription to 500 journals is unreasonable but if you have subscriptions to all of them and can provide access, let's edit that information in.
    The Stand-Up Physicist
    Enrico Uva  emailed the author.  Should be easy enough to do, and pretty cheap.  Phone calls are also common practice for reporters who are no doubt want to get beyond a press release.
    He isn't a reporter. Most of the members here are not reporters. These are press releases for the audience and the audience is not educated by press releases, they just want to know what is happening before it hits mainstream media, they know how to think critically without being spoon fed - or they would read the New York Times, though I bet the NYT did not list the funding source either. You are the only one of 30,000 people reading this who is going to worry about the funding source, most everyone else understands that research is funded and they either assume being funded makes the conclusion flawed or they don't. Unless the conclusion is really goofy, like that homeopathy cures cancer, I don't think much about funding, I assume researchers are ethical.  Obviously you factor that into everything you read, which is fine.

    But again, since it is that simple to get the paper and you are a journalist, go for it, and we can edit in the funding source.
    Dubious Virtue
    Government funding is far more likely to have manipulation
    We call it "policy driven evidence".
    Gerhard Adam
    Well that settles it.  Quarter pounders can remain on the menu ... :)
    Mundus vult decipi
    That's only 4 oz of meat.  Better get two, to be extra healthy.
    Gerhard Adam
    Yep, the cheese satisfies my dairy requirement and the bread is made from wheat which is a plant and therefore qualifies as a vegetable.  I suppose I need a Wild-berry smoothie to get my fruit requirements [and probably some more dairy] and then I've done everything I could to be nutritionally responsible.

    Not as bad as I first thought.
    Mundus vult decipi