Muscle mass, strength, and function are critical for athletic performance and, perhaps as importantly for healthy ageing and survival. Considering the link between muscle gain and performance capacity and that of muscle loss and functional disability, strategies which are considered effective in improving muscle growth and repair in athletes, might as well be useful countermeasures to the loss of muscle mass and function with advancing age. Nutrition and exercise are considered the most effective measures to stimulate muscle growth and muscle performance.
The present project includes intervention studies that aim to (1) demonstrate the efficacy of novel nutritional strategies, and (2) contribute to the understanding of their mode of action on muscle tissue and performance. Novel nutritional strategies include timing of intake and the supply of specific micronutrients or bioactive compounds that improve the muscles’ ability to respond to anabolic stimuli.
Several acute human intervention trials will be carried out within this project, establishing the impact of protein timing on muscle protein accretion. Furthermore, the benefits of vitamin D supplementation on skeletal muscle mass and performance will be assessed in compromised elderly people. In addition, proposed anabolic properties of bioactives to attenuate the loss of muscle mass and strength during a period of muscle disuse will be investigated. Finally, gene expression profiles and metabolic profiles in skeletal muscle tissue will be identified, uncovering the mechanistic routes beyond the presumed effects of the novel nutritional strategies.
This project will define dietary strategies and novel nutritional concepts to enhance muscle mass and improve strength and performance. Populations that may benefit the most from such strategies include those aiming to improve sports performance, or those most prone to muscle mass loss and function due to immobilization and/or undernutrition.