Habitual sedentary behavior increases risk of chronic disease, hospitalization and poor quality of life. Short-term bed rest or disuse accelerates the loss of muscle mass, function, and glucose tolerance. Optimizing nutritional practices and protein intake may reduce the consequences of disuse by preserving metabolic homeostasis and muscle mass and function. Most modes of physical inactivity have the potential to negatively impact the health of older adults more than their younger counterparts. Mechanistically, mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) signaling and muscle protein synthesis are negatively affected by disuse. This contributes to reduced muscle quality and is accompanied by impaired glucose regulation. Simply encouraging increased protein and/or energy consumption is a well-intentioned, but often impractical strategy to protect muscle health. Emerging evidence suggests that leucine supplemented meals may partially and temporarily protect skeletal muscle during disuse by preserving anabolism and mitigating reductions in mass, function and metabolic homeostasis.
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