Findings From A Randomised Controlled Pilot Exercise and Protein Effectiveness Supplementation Study (EXPRESS) Supporting Autonomy in Community‐Dwelling Older People At Risk of Frailty

Jadczak, A1,2, Visvanathan, R1,2,3, Barnard, R4, Luscombe‐Marsh, N5

1 NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence Frailty & Healthy Ageing, University of Adelaide, 2 Geriatrics Training & Research with Aged Care (G‐TRAC) Centre, Discipline of Medicine, University of Adelaide, 3 Aged & Extended Care Services, The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, CALHN, SA Health, 4 Centre for Physical Activity in Ageing (CPAA), CALHN, SA Health, 5 Health & Biosecurity, CSIRO, South Australia

Background and aims: Multi‐component exercise is key in improving muscle mass, strength and physical function in pre‐frail/frail older adults. However, exercise combined with protein supplementation might be even more effective. This study aimed to examine the feasibility and effects of a 6‐month exercise program combined with either whey or rice‐based protein on gait speed, grip strength and physical performance.

Methods: Community‐dwelling older adults aged ≥65 years participated in a centre‐ and home‐based exercise program (5x/week for 6 months) including walking, strength, balance and flexibility. In addition, participants were randomly assigned to consume twice daily whey (WheyPro) or rice‐based (RicePro) protein supplements.

Results: A total of 70 participants (mean age 73.34±6.85 years) were randomly allocated to either RicePro (n=36) or WheyPro (n=34). All participants tolerated the exercise, however, several gastrointestinal symptoms were noted with the whey protein causing two‐fold more symptoms compared to the rice protein. All other outcomes remained stable with no differences between the groups (p>0.05), except of the total consumed energy (kJ) (p=0.014) and fat (g) (p=0.012) which were significant lower in WheyPro.

Conclusion: This study provides valuable insight into the feasibility, safety and tolerability of a combined 6‐month exercise and protein program delivered to community‐dwelling older adults. While our data indicate that the quality of protein may not be critical as long as a sufficient amount is consumed, it is clear that a persons’ preference for different protein sources must be tailored to their needs and experiences as they progress through a nutrition and exercise program.


Agathe Jadczak

Dr Agathe Daria Jadczak is an Exercise Physiologist and Sports Scientist working as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital (Basil Hetzel Institute for Translational Health Research). Agathe completed her PhD in Medicine in 2018 with the Adelaide G‐TRAC Centre, Adelaide Medical School, University of Adelaide, investigating various strategies to treat and prevent frailty in community‐dwelling older people. She focused on medical education programs, exercise advice provided by general practitioners and the impact of exercise programs combined with nutritional approach. Agathe is currently coordinating the FIRST (Frailty In Residential Sector Over Time) Study, a prospective cohort study in cooperation with Resthaven Inc. The study will help to validate a new frailty screening tool for residential aged care and investigate residents’ health over time. Agathe has also recently finished the EXPRESS Study (EXercise and PRotein Effectiveness Supplementation Study), a community based intervention study in cooperation with CSIRO.

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