We use our muscles every day—from the top of our head to the tips of our toes if we are lucky—for the smallest and the biggest tasks. Muscles make up an impressive 45% of our body mass. But did you know that muscle is an endocrine organ and regulates metabolism? Did you know that using your muscles can actually help reduce systemic inflammation?
I certainly didn’t.
Maintaining muscle mass has always been a key to not only a long life span, but, I would argue, more importantly, an essential component for a long health span.
Think about it…
If we don’t have strong muscles we can’t get up and move and do all the things we want to do. This results in low bone density and a higher risk of disabling fractures.
If we don’t have strong muscles we can’t get up and move and this results in poor cardiovascular health. Next step is high blood pressure, heart attack or stroke.
If we don’t have strong muscles we can’t get up and move and our brain tissue actually starts to lessen, this results in higher risks of dementia, anxiety and depression.
If we don’t have strong muscles we miss out on so many joys in life that require movement.
So if I can encourage you to do something this week it will be to take a look at the state of your muscles. And if you aren’t happy with them, make a plan to DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!
There are only two ways to build muscle mass, both of which stimulate a process known as muscle protein synthesis, or MPS.
- Through proper nutrition. You need to consume the proper amount of protein throughout the day at each meal. At a bare minimum, research has shown that at least 30g of protein, 3 times a day will stimulate the muscle for protein synthesis.
- By doing resistance training. You need to lift heavy things (this includes dumbbells and your body weight) at least twice per week until you are fatigued in order to stimulate muscle growth. The muscle building benefit of exercise in general lasts 24 hours and so it is key to move EVERY day to stimulate MPS.
Recommended Protein Intake for Healthy Older People: Current Recommendations and Evolving Evidence
To help older people (>40) maintain and regain lean body mass and function, the PROT-AGE study group recommends average daily intake at least in the range of 1.0 to 1.2 g protein per kilogram of body weight per day.
For example, if you are a 165 pounds, you would need to consume between 75 and 90 grams of protein per day.
And the older you are…the more protein you need. Carbohydrates are important for younger kids who are moving around all the time. As we get older, we move less and therefore need less of those energy foods and more of the muscle building foods to counteract age related muscle decline, sarcopenia.
It’s not quite as simple as a daily amount though. Timing and quality are important as well.
The stimulation of muscle building from dietary protein intake lasts about 4 to 5 hours and so spreading your daily amount over your main meals of the day is key. And it is essential that your protein contains a good amount of a branch chain amino acid (BCAA) leucine in it. Specifically 2.5 grams.
This is where the difference between vegetarian and animal protein comes in. It is easier to get the amount of protein and the balance of amino acids you need from animal protein. Although, it is not impossible to get it from vegetarian sources, you just have to eat a variety of protein rich foods together to ensure you get a BALANCE of amino acids.
Need some help coming up with a plan on how you an combat age related muscle decline? Give us a call or book an appointment today. It is what we do and we are waiting to hear from you!