Stroke changes our bodies in many ways. For example, many patients experience weakness and loss of motor functions. This, in turn, leads to a decrease in muscle mass, a condition known as sarcopenia. And when you don’t have the muscle strength to keep you going, the road to recovery becomes more challenging. But is there something that can help you maintain your muscle mass and keep you stronger? There is. And the answer lies in proper nutrition. Getting enough protein can help you build more muscle so you can be more successful with rehabilitation.
Losing muscle mass can be a consequence after stroke
When focusing on rehabilitation, many patients think about the exercises. This is a big part of the equation, but equally important is nutrition. And sometimes this aspect is overlooked. Studies show, however, that people with poor nutrition have worse outcomes after a stroke, and that this may contribute to sarcopenia. That’s why a diet that supports muscle building coupled with resistance training can make a huge difference. Proper nutrition provides the fuel needed to build stronger muscles and get the most out of your training routine.
A leucine-rich dietary supplement could be the answer
Researchers in Japan wanted to see whether a protein-rich diet can improve recovery when combined with standard stroke rehabilitation training. They tested leucine-enriched dietary supplements. Leucine is a protein that directly contributes to building muscle. It is found naturally in foods such as chicken, fish, eggs, yogurt, and beans.
Researchers asked 49 stroke patients with sarcopenia to participate in an 8-week program. Half the participants took a leucine-enriched supplement every day within 30 minutes after ending their sit-to-stand exercises. The other half took a placebo supplement. During this time, all study participants took part in physical, occupational, and speech-language therapy.
Supplement or not, all participants improved after the 8-week rehab. But those who supplemented with leucine had better muscle mass and strength. And when it came to daily living activities, they performed better as well. Tasks like tooth brushing or getting out of bed were more manageable for those participants and contributed to a better quality of life.
You can try this yourself
Enriching our diet to help build stronger muscles is easy, safe, and effective. You can try using a leucine supplement to improve your outcomes, similar to what athletes do for better performance. Be sure to talk to your doctor about what supplements and dosages are right for you. This could be a great way to enhance your efforts and boost your recovery.
The lead author of this study was Yoshihiro Yoshimura, from the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at the Kumamoto Rehabilitation Hospital in Kumamoto, Japan.
Adding protein supplements to your rehabilitation program can enhance your strength training efforts.