Sarcopenia: How to Maintain Your Strength as You Age
From the age of 50, many people lose up to one percent of their muscle mass each year. This extremely common degenerative condition is called sarcopenia. And it causes a lot more problems than merely making you weaker. It can wreak havoc on your body.
So, be sure to maintain your muscle mass as you get older and avoid the ravages of sarcopenia.
Sarcopenia Related Health Risks
Sarcopenia is linked to:
- low bone density
- insulin resistance – the first step towards diabetes
- heart disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
Here’s The Good News
You can prevent sarcopenia, or even reverse it. Improving your strength improves your overall health and your ability to do things. The years after 50 are a time when people want to do things on their “bucket list”, so being stronger and healthier is a major plus.
There are two things you need to do to ward off sarcopenia:
- Consume enough protein.
- Strength training.
Both are key to building and maintaining muscle mass.
Every part of your body needs protein to grow and function. Your overall good health depends on replenishing protein at whatever rate it’s breaking down in your body. When you get adequate protein in your diet, it reduces the risk of developing other health problems that are normally associated with aging, including sarcopenia, memory loss and depression.
But as you age, you become less efficient at processing protein. Combine that with hormonal changes and less activity, and you end up with loss of muscle mass and a weakened body. Eating enough protein and healthy fats, while eating less carbohydrates, is essential for a healthier body and metabolism.
How Much Protein Do You Need?
Don’t consume all or most of it in one meal. If you’re fasting, you might want to consider supplementing with amino acids in the morning (or at whichever mealtime you skip). Getting protein throughout the day has been shown to help improve muscle mass and slow the loss of muscle tissue.
You may also need to increase your protein intake. That’s not a “rule”; it depends on where you’re starting from. Most adults should eat somewhere between three and six ounces of protein per meal. The exact amount depends on your gender, activity level, health, and age. If you’re experiencing muscle loss after the age of 50, a good guideline is to increase the amount of protein you eat by 20 to 25 percent.
A more precise way to calculate your intake is to eat half a gram of protein per pound of lean body mass. You can learn how to calculate your exact protein requirements here.
lf you’re already losing muscle mass, perform the same calculation and increase that number by 20 to 25 percent.
Just don’t overdo it, because eating too much protein has negative health consequences. Excess protein is converted to sugar and then to fat. The sugar created from the protein feeds harmful bacteria, stresses your kidneys, and can even encourage cancer cells to grow.
Use a Variety Of Protein Sources
To do this right, you should eat a variety of animal and plant proteins. These include:
- grass-fed pasture-raised meats
- a limited amount of dairy, if your body can tolerate it
- wild-caught seafood
- leafy greens
- cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower
- nuts and seeds, especially hemp and chia (bonus: they’re also high in Omega-3 fats)
- spirulina – it’s 70% protein by weight and contains all the essential amino acids
- protein shakes
To really help your protein intake, check out my product called Plant Protein Complete. It contains 21 grams of protein per serving and includes the superfood spirulina, as well as digestive enzymes and probiotics to help your digestion.
Weight Training: It’s Never Too Late
It’s never too late to start. In one study where the average participant was 90 years old (90!), results showed that in just eight weeks of weight training, muscle strength improved by an average of 173%.
The effects of weight training in older adults reaches far beyond mere strength and muscle size. It increases energy, metabolism, antioxidant production, and insulin sensitivity!
Weight training and improved muscle mass also benefits brain function by promoting the survival of neurons. Considering mental health is a major health concern for aging people, the best strategy for improving the quality of your life as you get older is to do strength training while eating a diet low in carbs, balanced in steady protein, and high in brain supporting healthy fat.
So, that’s the skinny on maintaining muscle mass to keep the dangers of sarcopenia at bay. If you found this blog helpful, please subscribe to my YouTube channel and share this info with someone who’d appreciate it.