Health Tips: Protein amount, not source, key to increasing your muscle mass

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“The Game Changers” is billed as a documentary about meat, protein and strength. The mission: to show folks that for many professional athletes, a vegan or vegetarian diet gives them an edge over their competition, and it can do the same for you in the gym, on the field, at work and at home. As the vegan strongman Patrik Baboumian says: “When people ask me, ‘How can you get strong as an ox without eating meat?’ my answer is, ‘Have you ever seen an ox eating meat?’ “

Researchers from the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil back up the documentary’s claims. It turns out that it’s the amount, not the source, of protein that matters when it comes to building lean muscle mass and strength. Their research, published in Sports Medicine, compared the effects of strength training on healthy men eating a vegan or an omnivorous diet. Daily for 12 weeks, volunteers took in 1.6 grams of protein for every 2.2 pounds of their body weight, either from a mixed diet containing animal and plant protein plus a whey protein supplement or from a plants-only diet and a soy-based protein supplement. Both groups increased lean muscle mass and strength equally.

The American College of Sports Medicine says that if you exercise regularly or are older, that’s a good amount of protein to take in. And vegans and vegetarians need to make sure they get enough protein daily from whole grains, tofu, legumes and, as needed, a vegan or vegetarian protein supplement (think smoothie).

Preventing diabetes adds years to your life

Chris Rock knows how to get to the point: “You know, some people say life is short and that you could get hit by a bus at any moment and that you have to live each day like it’s your last. Bull****. Life is long. You’re probably not gonna get hit by a bus. And you’re gonna have to live with the choices you make for the next 50 years.”

With the right choices, you could make that 55 years -- or even more! Researchers at the West Virginia School of Public Health looked at data on 320 folks at high risk for prediabetes, with prediabetes or previously diagnosed gestational diabetes and had completed the National Diabetes Prevention Program. They found that taking steps to prevent full-blown diabetes adds more than four high-quality years to your life expectancy. There are financial rewards too: Year one, each participant’s annual medical costs fell by $120. Year three, annual savings rose to $341 per person. Year 10? $989. Joining a healthy lifestyle support group and having a lifestyle coach, nutritionist or exercise trainer increases your chance of success.

Our research clearly shows that if you take your health makeover even further and go from being obese to a normal weight and increase your exercise to 300 minutes a week plus get 10,000 steps a day, you’ll see an even greater, high-quality life extension. So start today to live longer, healthier and younger. For great tips, go to “Dr. Oz’s Longevity Prescription” at DoctorOz.com and Dr. Mike’s www.whenway.com.

Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer Emeritus at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.

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