Supplementation With Whey Protein, Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Polyphenols Combined With Electrical Muscle Stimulation Increases Muscle Strength in Elderly Adults With Limited Mobility: A Randomized Controlled Trial

C. Boutry-Regard, G. Vinyes-Parés, D. Breuillé, T. Moritani

Nutrients .2020 Jun 23;12(6):E1866. doi: 10.3390/nu12061866.

Age-related sarcopenia is a progressive and generalized skeletal muscle disorder associated with adverse outcomes. Herein, we evaluate the effects of a combination of electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) and a whey-based nutritional supplement (with or without polyphenols and fish oil-derived omega-3 fatty acids) on muscle function and size.

Free-living elderly participants with mobility limitations were included in this study. They received 2 sessions of EMS per week and were randomly assigned to ingest an isocaloric beverage and capsules for 12 weeks: (1) carbohydrate + placebo capsules (CHO, n = 12), (2) whey protein isolate + placebo capsules (WPI, n = 15) and (3) whey protein isolate + bioactives (BIO) capsules containing omega-3 fatty acids, rutin, and curcumin (WPI + BIO, n = 10).

The change in knee extension strength was significantly improved by 13% in the WPI + BIO group versus CHO on top of EMS, while WPI alone did not provide a significant benefit over CHO. On top of this, there was the largest improvement in gait speed (8%).  

Comment:   The combination of EMS and this specific nutritional intervention could be considered as a new approach for the prevention of sarcopenia but more work is needed before this approach should be recommended.