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Dietary Protein and Muscle Mass: Translating Science to Application and Health Benefit
Open AccessFeature PaperCommunication

Mitigation of Muscle Loss in Stressed Physiology: Military Relevance

1
Department of Geriatrics, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, Center for Translational Research in Aging & Longevity, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, AR 72205, USA
2
Military Nutrition Division, U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, Natick, MA 01760, USA
3
Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education Supporting the Military Nutrition Division of the US Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, Natick, MA 01760, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Nutrients 2019, 11(8), 1703; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11081703
Received: 21 June 2019 / Revised: 15 July 2019 / Accepted: 22 July 2019 / Published: 24 July 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Protein Intake and Muscle Mass)
Military personnel may be exposed to circumstances (e.g., large energy deficits, sleep deprivation, cognitive demands, and environmental extremes) of external stressors during training and combat operations (i.e., operational stressors) that combine to degrade muscle protein. The loss of muscle protein is further exacerbated by frequent periods of severe energy deficit. Exposure to these factors results in a hypogonadal state that may contribute to observed decrements in muscle mass. In this review, lessons learned from studying severe clinical stressed states and the interventions designed to mitigate the loss of muscle protein are discussed in the context of military operational stress. For example, restoration of the anabolic hormonal status (e.g., testosterone, insulin, and growth hormone) in stressed physiological states may be necessary to restore the anabolic influence derived from dietary protein on muscle. Based on our clinical experiences, restoration of the normal testosterone status during sustained periods of operational stress may be advantageous. We demonstrated that in severe burn patients, pharmacologic normalization of the anabolic hormonal status restores the anabolic stimulatory effect of nutrition on muscle by improving the protein synthetic efficiency and limiting amino acid loss from skeletal muscle. Furthermore, an optimal protein intake, and in particular essential amino acid delivery, may be an integral ingredient in a restored anabolic response during the stress state. Interventions which improve the muscle net protein balance may positively impact soldier performance in trying conditions. View Full-Text
Keywords: skeletal muscle; military; protein metabolism; amino acids; testosterone; androgens skeletal muscle; military; protein metabolism; amino acids; testosterone; androgens
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MDPI and ACS Style

Church, D.D.; Gwin, J.A.; Wolfe, R.R.; Pasiakos, S.M.; Ferrando, A.A. Mitigation of Muscle Loss in Stressed Physiology: Military Relevance. Nutrients 2019, 11, 1703.

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