As we age, it’s common for our metabolism to slow down and muscle mass to decrease. This can lead to weight gain and a host of other health issues. However, it’s not inevitable that our metabolism must decline as we get older. We can use many strategies to maintain a healthy metabolism by prioritizing the preservation of muscle mass. This article will discuss some of the best ways to combat muscle loss and reap the many benefits of a healthy metabolism.
Why do we start losing muscle mass after 40?
- Decreased physical activity: As we age, we may be less physically active, leading to muscle loss. Regular exercise is essential for maintaining and building muscle mass.
- Hormonal changes: As we age, our bodies undergo hormonal changes that can affect muscle mass. For example, testosterone and growth hormone levels tend to decline with age, which can contribute to muscle loss.
- Nutritional deficiencies: Poor diet and specific nutrient deficiencies can also contribute to muscle loss as we age. For example, insufficient protein or specific amino acids can impair muscle protein synthesis and lead to muscle loss.
Improving protein synthesis & strength to slow the aging process
Dr. Gabrielle Lyon, who has a doctorate in Osteopathic Medicine & specializes in longevity, says
“Muscle is perhaps the most important organ system to combat our current health crisis, regain exceptional health, and maximize physical performance. Muscle health becomes more important as we age, yet is often the most overlooked–even by modern-day medical practices.”
Strength training can stimulate protein synthesis, the body’s process of producing new proteins from amino acids. Protein synthesis is vital for building and repairing tissues, including muscles. By increasing muscle damage and inflammation through strength training, we can trigger the repair and rebuilding process, which can help to preserve and build more muscle mass.
In addition to preserving muscle mass, strength training can also help to improve strength and functional capacity, which can be especially important as we age. This can help to reduce the risk of falls and other injuries and improve the overall quality of life.
Essentially, strength training combined with adequate protein intake can help to slow the aging process by preserving and building muscle mass and improving strength and functional capacity.
The connection between chronic stress and muscle loss
Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal gland which plays a number of important roles in the body. One of its primary functions is to help the body respond to stress. Cortisol can be helpful in small amounts, but chronically high levels of cortisol can adversely affect the body.
One way that high levels of cortisol can impact the body is by contributing to muscle atrophy, which is the loss of muscle mass and strength. Cortisol can increase muscle protein breakdown and inhibit muscle protein synthesis, leading to muscle loss. Chronic stress and high cortisol levels are also associated with decreased physical activity and appetite, which can further contribute to muscle loss.
Exercise has been shown to have several stress-reducing effects. One way it can do this is by helping to regulate the body’s stress response systems. When you engage in physical activity, your body releases endorphins, which are chemicals that act as natural painkillers and mood elevators. These endorphins can help to reduce feelings of stress and improve overall mood.
Exercise can also help reduce stress by providing a distraction from the sources of stress in your life. Focusing on the physical sensations and challenges of exercise can make it easier to let go of stress and negative thoughts. In addition, exercise can help improve sleep, which is important for managing stress.
Type 2 diabetes, Immune Function & Muscle Mass
Muscle atrophy, or the loss of muscle mass and strength, can negatively impact health including impaired blood sugar control and decreased immune function. Regarding blood sugar control, muscle tissue plays a role in insulin sensitivity. Insulin is a hormone that helps to regulate blood sugar levels by allowing cells to take in glucose (sugar) from the bloodstream. As muscle mass decreases, insulin sensitivity may also decline, leading to impaired blood sugar control and an increased risk of hyperglycemia (high blood sugar). This is especially important for individuals with diabetes, because poor blood sugar control can lead to various complications.
Regarding immune function, muscles play a role in the body’s ability to fight off infections and other health threats. As muscle mass decreases, the body may be less able to mount an effective immune response, which increases the risk of diseases and other health problems. In addition, muscle atrophy may also affect other aspects of immune function such as the production of antibodies and the circulation of immune cells. Overall, taking steps to prevent or reverse muscle loss is important to support healthy blood sugar control and immune function.
How much protein do you need per day to preserve muscle?
For people wanting to maximize muscle preservation, research shows that consuming .75g of protein per pound of body weight daily can significantly improve protein synthesis. If you are 175lbs, you’ll be looking at about 130g of protein per day.
Let’s take a look at a sample day:
Maintaining and building muscle mass as you age is important for preserving metabolic rate and supporting overall health and well-being. We’ve covered some top strategies to achieve this, including strength training, adequate protein intake, and stress management. By incorporating these into your daily routine, you can hold back “father time” and live your best life.
Want to add more protein to your diet? Check out the rotating menu for ready-made meals, signature sides, premium proteins and desserts– all with a variety of macro ranges.