Why are we doing the NUTRIMAL project?

The NUTRIMAL project is going to be a lot of work and is going to cost a lot of money. So…why are we bothering?

Muscle mass and strength decline with age…and this is a BIG problem

Beginning in our forties we lose ~1% of our muscle every year. For an average man that’s the equivalent of losing a 10oz steak of muscle every year [2]!


Strength is lost even faster, at a rate of about 2-3% per year [3]. This can make physical tasks like walking and rising from a chair more difficult. This loss of muscle mass and function is called sarcopenia.

Sarcopenia is big problem because it increases the risk of physical disability, falls and hospitalization [4,5]. Importantly it also reduces quality of life in older adults [6].

Sarcopenia cartoon


Therefore, is it critical that we identify strategies to slow the loss of muscle mass and strength with age in order to promote independence and well-being amongst older adults.

What do we know already?

Nutrition plays an important role in helping to slow the loss of muscle mass and strength with age.

Previous research studies have reported that:

  • Increasing milk protein in the diet can improve physical performance in older adults [7].


  • Proteins seem to be especially effective for increasing muscle building if they are high in leucine [8]. Leucine is one of the building blocks that makes up protein in foods and is known to have a special role as a ‘trigger’ for muscle building.


  • When older adults were supplemented with fish oil for 6 months they had an increase in muscle mass and strength [9].

gel capsules

What will the NUTRIMAL project tells us?

We want to find out:

  1. If consuming milk protein and extra leucine can slow the loss of muscle mass and strength loss with age
  2. If consuming milk protein, extra leucine AND fish oil is even more effective than milk protein and extra leucine alone

The results of the NUTRIMAL project will help to identify nutritional strategies to assist older adults in preserving their muscle mass and strength. This in turn could help to prevent physical disability and support independent and healthy aging. 


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