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Protein supplementation combined with low-intensity resistance training in geriatric medical patients during and after hospitalisation: a randomised, double-blind, multicentre trial

  • Josephine Gade (a1) (a2), Anne Marie Beck (a2) (a3), Hanne E. Andersen (a4), Britt Christensen (a5), Finn Rønholt (a6), Tobias W. Klausen (a7), Anders Vinther (a8) and Arne Astrup (a1)...


Sarcopenia (loss of muscle mass/strength) burdens many older adults – hospitalised older adults being particularly vulnerable. Treating the condition, protein supplementation (PrS) and resistance training (RT) may act synergistically. Therefore, this block-randomised, double-blind, multicentre intervention study, recruiting geriatric patients > 70 years from three medical departments, investigated the effect of PrS combined with RT during hospitalisation and 12 weeks after discharge. Participants were randomly allocated (1:1) to receive PrS (totally 27·5 g whey protein/d, about 2000 kJ/d) or isoenergetic placebo-products (< 1·5 g protein/d) divided into two servings per d to supplement the habitual diet. Both groups were engaged in a standardised, progressive low-intensity RT programme for the lower extremities (hospital: supervised daily/after discharge: self-training 4×/week). From April 2016 to September 2017, 2351 patients were screened, 462 were eligible, and 165 included. Fourteen were excluded and ten dropped out, leaving 141 participants in the intention-to-treat analysis. The average total protein intake during hospitalisation/after discharge was 1·0 (interquartile range (IQR) 0·8, 1·3)/1·1 (IQR 0·9, 1·3) g/kg per d (protein-group) and 0·6 (IQR 0·5, 0·8)/0·9 (IQR 0·6, 1·0) g/kg per d (placebo group). Both groups improved significantly for the primary and secondary endpoints of muscle mass/strength, functional measurements and quality of life, but no additional effect of PrS was seen for the primary endpoint (30-s chair stand test, repetitions, median changes from baseline: (standard test: 0 (IQR 0, 5) (protein group) v. 2 (IQR 0, 6) (placebo group) and modified test: 2 (IQR 0, 5) (protein group) v. 2 (IQR −1, 5) (placebo group)) or any secondary endpoints (Mann–Whitney U tests, P > 0·05). In conclusion, PrS increasing the total protein intake by 0·4 and 0·2 g/kg per d during hospitalisation and after discharge, respectively, does not seem to increase the adaptive response to low-intensity RT in geriatric medical patients.


Corresponding author

*Corresponding author: J. Gade, email


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Protein supplementation combined with low-intensity resistance training in geriatric medical patients during and after hospitalisation: a randomised, double-blind, multicentre trial

  • Josephine Gade (a1) (a2), Anne Marie Beck (a2) (a3), Hanne E. Andersen (a4), Britt Christensen (a5), Finn Rønholt (a6), Tobias W. Klausen (a7), Anders Vinther (a8) and Arne Astrup (a1)...


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