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The Nutrition for Healthy Living Study: A randomised clinical trial assessing the effect of protein sources on healthy ageing

Rosilene Ribeiro (1, 2, 3), Stephen Simpson (1, 2), David Le Couteur (2, 3, 4), David Raubenheimer (1, 2), Joerg Eberhard (2, 5), Kate Ruiz (5), Laurence Macia (5), Yvanna Todorova (7) and Alison Gosby (1, 2, 8)


  1. School of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

  2. Charles Perkins Centre, University of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

  3. Centre for Education and Research on Ageing and Ageing and Alzheimers Institute, Concord Hospital, University of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

  4. ANZAC Research Institute, University of Sydney, Concord Hospital, New South Wales, Australia

  5. School of Medical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine and Health, University of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

  6. The University of Sydney School of Dentistry, Faculty of Medicine and Health, University of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

  7. School of Life Science and Medicine, King’s College London, London, United Kingdom

  8. Boden Institute of Obesity, Nutrition, Exercise and Eating Disorders, University of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Worldwide, populations are ageing with significant impact on health patterns. Studies have shown that low protein, high carbohydrate diets are associated with more favourable outcomes. Plant-based diets have also been shown to have a positive impact on cardiometabolic health, weight loss and prevention of all causes of mortality. The aim of the current study was to assess the main and interactive effects of two macronutrient interventions in a 2x2 factorial dietary design to determine their effects on appetite and health outcomes in older individuals. Individuals aged 65 to 75 with a BMI between 20 and 35kg/m2 were recruited. Participants were provided with ad libitum access to one of four diets for four weeks, designed as a 2 x 2 factorial. Each dietary treatment provided 14% of energy as protein, which was either omnivorous or semi-vegetarian in origin. The remaining complement of macronutrient energy (80-82%) was either relatively high in fat (37- 41% of energy) and low in carbohydrates (41-43%), or vice versa  (28-29% fat with 53% carbohydrate). Study diets were provided via a meal delivery company. Self-completed questionnaires, biospecimen and clinical assessments were collected before and after intervention to assess cardio-metabolic,  oral and gut health, body composition and physical performance. This study will help determine whether protein-source (plant vs animal) and fat to carbohydrate ratio have an impact on predictors of healthy ageing. These findings will also create a sound foundation on which to base nutritional interventions in older individuals  to support healthy ageing.