Nutritional Strategies to Offset Disuse-Induced Skeletal Muscle Atrophy and Anabolic Resistance in Older Adults: From Whole-Foods to Isolated Ingredients

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Colleges, School and Institutes


Preserving skeletal muscle mass and functional capacity is essential for healthy ageing. Transient periods of disuse and/or inactivity in combination with sub-optimal dietary intake have been shown to accelerate the age-related loss of muscle mass and strength, predisposing to disability and metabolic disease. Mechanisms underlying disuse and/or inactivity-related muscle deterioration in the older adults, whilst multifaceted, ultimately manifest in an imbalance between rates of muscle protein synthesis and breakdown, resulting in net muscle loss. To date, the most potent intervention to mitigate disuse-induced muscle deterioration is mechanical loading in the form of resistance exercise. However, the feasibility of older individuals performing resistance exercise during disuse and inactivity has been questioned, particularly as illness and injury may affect adherence and safety, as well as accessibility to appropriate equipment and physical therapists. Therefore, optimising nutritional intake during disuse events, through the introduction of protein-rich whole-foods, isolated proteins and nutrient compounds with purported pro-anabolic and anti-catabolic properties could offset impairments in muscle protein turnover and, ultimately, the degree of muscle atrophy and recovery upon re-ambulation. The current review therefore aims to provide an overview of nutritional countermeasures to disuse atrophy and anabolic resistance in older individuals.


Original languageEnglish
Article number1533
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 25 May 2020


  • skeletal muscle, atrophy, nutrition, disuse, ageing, inactivity, metabolism, protein