Updated: Jan 29
Hi Friends of Oompf, it's Alvan here. Today I will be talking about muscle mass, how to gain it and who are at risk of losing muscle mass.
What is muscle mass?
The human body has a natural proportion of muscles that is determined by genetics, gender, and age. You can train your body to increase the amount of muscle by doing exercises that stimulate muscle growth, like resistance training. Of course, how much your muscles grow in response to work or weight lifting will still depend on your gender, age, and genes.
Who is at risk of losing muscle mass?
Pretty simple, practically everyone!
From the time you are born to around the time you turn 30, your muscles grow larger and stronger. However, from the age of 30 onwards, you start to lose muscle mass and function. The cause is age-related sarcopenia or sarcopenia with aging.
Particularly, physically inactive people can lose as much as 3% to 5% of their muscle mass each decade after age 30. Even if you are active, you’ll still have some muscle loss.
There’s no test or specific level of muscle mass that will diagnose sarcopenia. Any loss of muscle matters because it lessens strength and mobility.
It happens faster around age 75. But it may also speed up as early as 65 or as late as 80. It’s a factor that affects the fracture and fall rate of older adults.
Preventing Muscle Loss
Here are some tips that you can do to prevent muscle loss:
1. Lifetime Weight Training
My number 1 tip for everybody: pick up the damn weights!
Everybody should pick up resistance training and start doing them regularly to prevent muscle loss or even gain muscles mass in the process. Seniors above the age of 60 can prevent or at least slow this natural state of loss by staying active. The best is to establish a routine of working out with weights two to three times each week, exercising all your major muscle groups. Allow one to two days between workouts if possible for optimal recovery and growth.
2. Sufficient Protein Intake
Especially if you're a senior, you also need to ensure that you eat well and get the recommended amount of protein for your activity level. You need to consume at least 2.2g-3g/kg of Lean Body mass (weight minus the body fat mass).
As we age, our ability to synthesize new proteins declines. This increases the need for protein if we want to achieve similar levels of muscle protein synthesis. A good rule of thumb is to increase protein requirements by 1% per year of age over 40. So somebody who's 50 years old, you might increase their protein by 10% above what you'd already set for it.
3. Eat Well
While eating sufficient protein is important, and athletes might need a little more protein from the higher end of the spectrum mentioned above, eating sufficient energy is probably even more important.
If you don't eat sufficiently to maintain your body weight based on how much energy you expend in day-to-day living, including physical activity (maintenance calories), you will lose muscle and probably bone mass —and fat of course. It can be a little tricky losing fat while maintaining muscle, but weight training certainly helps you hang onto that muscle in those circumstances.
If you're a sports athlete or serious recreational athlete, you need to determine an ideal weight or body composition for your activity, monitor and adjust your diet and exercise accordingly.
4. Train Right
By the way, muscle can store glucose. So you probably are asking yourself, “What does this have to do with maintaining or gaining muscle mass?”
When you are depleted of glucose in the muscles, blood glucose and liver, your body will find another source to get glucose from and it will get it from muscle protein to maintain the brain and other important organs.
The hormone cortisol breaks down muscle into amino acids, then another hormone, glucagon, strips amino acids and turns the carbon skeleton into glucose. Your body needs to do this to ensure a steady supply of glucose.
This is not ideal for muscle maintenance, let alone muscle building
Don't train hard on an empty or fasted stomach consistently. If you do, take in an energy drink or BCAA while you train to prevent this process called gluconeogenesis from occurring. There is also a risk of this with low-carbohydrate diets.
Refueling after exercise is also important. Taking in some protein and carbohydrate within an hour of your workout, and sufficiently beyond that to refuel, will help to ensure muscle maintenance and even growth as you get an insulin spike.
5. Relax and Sleep Enough
Sleep is a time of rebuilding. Hormones like testosterone and human growth hormone set about rebuilding and repairing your body. Quality (not just quantity) sleep helps with this process. Relaxation is important too since emotional stress will increase stress hormones like cortisol, which means more break down of muscles. It is not a good thing to suffer from chronic stress.
6. Limit Alcohol Intake
Of course you can have a drink BUT the key word is MODERATION.
Excessive alcohol intake doesn't do your muscle load any good at all. Apart from all the other negative effects of excessive alcohol consumption, it raises estrogen levels and reduces around your testosterone, causing more muscle loss and impairs weight loss if you are trying to lose fats. And that is not the end.
Alcohol can cause stress on the stomach and the intestines. This leads to decreased digestive secretions and movement of food through the tract.
Digestive secretions are an essential element of healthy digestion. They break down food into the basic macro- and micronutrients that are absorbed and used by the body.
Alcohol intake of all levels can lead to impaired digestion and absorption of these nutrients. This can greatly affect the metabolism of organs that play a role in weight management.
In conclusion, everybody is not immune to losing muscle mass. That is for sure. Start resistance training as soon as possible accompanied with good diet filled with adequate amount of protein, appropriate proportion of calories, to maintain and grow muscle mass! Did you find this article useful? Email us your feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org