Even though most people do not even feel or notice it, muscle loss usually starts around the age of thirty, and in extreme cases, your mid-to-late twenties. This process is known as sarcopenia and the National Library of Medicine defines it as “a condition characterized by loss of skeletal muscle mass and function”. Possible side-effects include diabetes, osteoporosis, sudden weight gain in the mid-fifties and a full loss of mobility and independence. According to a recent study, nearly 60% of US citizens over the age of 70 suffer from sarcopenia.
Since muscle loss occurs over a long period, doctors still do not have a proper way to diagnose the condition. Fortunately, muscle mass can be regained and there are some precautions you can take to prevent sarcopenia. For example, a steady supply of Vitamin D has shown to reduce the risk of failing in the elderly, while increasing their muscle strength. However, most experts tend to agree that the best prevention method is a regular exercising routine. In fact, the American College of Sports Medicine advocates weight training especially. The ACSM recommends a weight training (targeting all of the major muscle groups) at least two times every week in order to prevent muscle loss.
Building Muscle Mass with Strength Training
It is fairly obvious how bodybuilding can be used as a great preventative treatment – in order to stop muscle loss, you need to develop and foster your physique. Researches from Tafts University have been studying how strength training can reverse the effect of sarcopenia in the elderly for the better part of the decade. Research shows that even people over the age of 70 can put on muscle mass, even though the process is much slower. In one of the studies, scientists found that home programs are extremely effective for the elderly – a month-long program significantly improved balance and functional performance in most participants. In other words, equip yourself with quality bodybuilding clothing and hit the gym – while you may not notice it, your bones will be stronger for it.
The Importance of a Good Diet
According to the latest Recommended Dietary Allowances provided by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, your daily protein intake should approximate 0.8 grams per kilogram. However, most bodybuilders consume 1.5-2.0 grams per kilogram of protein in order to build and maintain muscle mass. Most researchers recommend that elderly people should at least consume 1.3 grams per kilogram. In many cases, seniors fail to obtain high quality protein simply because they have trouble chewing protein-rich foods, such as meat. Another important factor is the timing of the intake; however, due to a lack of research, there are debates about the optimal schedule. Some researchers suggest that eating most of the protein at breakfast is the best solution, while others indicate that eating 25 grams of protein per meal is better.
Prevention of Sarcopenic Obesity
According to the Journal of American Medicine, almost 80 million adults in the United States are overweight. In the context of sarcopenia, central obesity (the fat in the midsection of your body) represents a huge problem. Adipose tissue produces inflammatory cytokines that accelerates the breakdown of muscle tissue, which in turn, contributes to “sarcopenic obesity”. The condition is, in fact, a combination of two separate disorders – a person who suffers from it has a reduction in lean and an increase in fat mass. As a result, a person can have an appropriate body mass Index for his/her age but still look somewhat overweight. Unmistakably, a combination of weight lifting, aerobics and diet can help you lose weight, or stay in shape.
Optimal Hormone Levels
As you age, your hormone levels begin to decline; many essential tissue-building hormones like the growth hormone, DHEA, and testosterone decrease rapidly when you reach a certain age. Without the adequate levels of the aforementioned hormones, it is practically impossible to maintain lean body mass, no matter how much you exercise or diet. All adults over the age of 40 should track their hormone levels and undergo blood testing at least twice a year. If your results are alarmingly low, you may have to go through bioidentical hormone replacement therapy in order to balance the deficiencies.
Millions of people around the world become weak and frail with old age due to muscle loss, but you do not have to be one of them. A combination of dietary modifications, additional nourishment and regular exercises can help you improve lean muscle mass, no matter what age you are. However, since it is easier to prevent sarcopenia, or at least slow down its progression, than it is to treat it later in life, you should start training right away.