How Can You Prevent Muscle Loss as You Age?

How can you prevent muscle loss as you age? After thirty years of age most people lose as much as 3% to 5% of their muscle mass per decade. During their lifetime, they will lose about 30% of their muscle mass. That is not all doom and gloom. With, a healthy diet and exercise, you can improve. Let’s investigate how you can prevent muscle loss as you age.

Is Sarcopenia Unavoidable?

Age-related muscle loss is called sarcopenia. Unless you try to reverse it, it happens naturally as you age. Less muscle means greater weakness and less mobility. This may increase your risk of falls and broken bones. There are two things that go hand-in-hand if you want to stay strong into aging years. One is to eat a healthy diet, and the other is to engage in regular physical activity.

Many people have ideas as to what it takes to build muscle mass. But these two things are certain, a healthy diet and regular physical exercise will keep you strong.



How Can You Prevent Muscle Loss as You Age?

You need to exercise and eat protein in order to increase muscle mass. As you age, you lose muscle mass. Eating sufficient protein as you age, helps your body repair cells, heal injuries, as well as keep a healthy immune system.

Resistance training and protein in your diet are two building blocks to strong muscles and bones.

As you age, sometimes your organs, such as your kidneys become over-worked by having to process too much protein. So, remember, moderation is the key.

Recommended Amount of Protein a Day

Sources are not all the same in their recommendations for protein a day. Some say 1 to 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.

Another source said that adults should consume 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram of body weight.

The final source I checked said that adults over 50 should consume between 5-5 1/2 oz of protein daily. (a 3.5 oz serving of meat is equivalent to 100 gr.)

It may come as no surprise that seniors who eat a low protein diet show greater signs of frailty than those with more protein in their diet. A study of more than 50,000 older adults showed these results.

It seems to be a current trend that plant protein is also a good source of protein for your body.

Essential Amino Acids

All proteins are made up of amino acids, which are the building blocks of a complete protein. Nine out of the twenty amino acids are not produced by the body. These nine are considered “essential”.

In order to have them, you must consume them since the body does not manufacture them.

These-Nine-Amino-Acids

These Nine Amino Acids Are Not Produced by the Body:

  1. Histidine found in beets, apples, carrots, parsnips, nutritional yeast, and leafy green veggies.
  2. Lysine – cheese, beef, fish, nuts, seeds, legumes, and the best source is Tempeh – a fermented soy food.
  3. Leucine – pumpkin seeds, parsley, peanuts, and beans.
  4. Methionine – chicken, fish, nuts, grains, and beans.
  5. Threonine – lean red meats, soy products, organ meat- such as liver, most seeds, nuts, and beans.
  6. Isoleucine – soy products, lean meats, fish, eggs, and beans.
  7. Valine – soy products, dairy, eggs, chicken, turkey, and cheese.
  8. L-Phenylalanine – nuts, beans, dairy products- including cheese and eggs.
  9. Tryptophan – walnuts, cauliflower, soy, and tofu.



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8 oz. skimmed milk
1 ripe banana
1 Tbsp peanut butter
1 scoop protein powder

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You can consume complete protein even if you are a vegetarian. You can still put on muscle mass. That being said, not all plant-based proteins are complete proteins. That means that not all plant-based proteins contain adequate amounts of all nine essential amino acids to build muscle.

Complete Proteins for Vegetarians

Soy

is a complete protein because it contains all the essential amino acids which are the building blocks of protein.

Chia seeds

are considered a complete protein because they contain all the essential amino acids. The body can not make essential amino acids, so you must get them from your food.

Quinoa

is a plant source that is a complete protein. It contains all nine essential amino acids and is high in dietary fibre, and is digested slowly. This makes it a good low-GI food option.

Buckwheat

is a gluten-free grain substitute, which is a source of complete protein. It provides an abundance of the essential fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid, vitamins, minerals, and soluble, and insoluble fiber.

Hemp seed

by weight, delivers similar amounts of protein as beef and lamb. It provides all the essential amino acids. Hemp seed is a complete protein.

Eating a variety of foods in your diet supplies sufficient amino acids that the body can use. The important thing is following a healthy diet and add resistance training to keep your muscles and bones strong.

Determining the Quality of Protein

In 1993 the US FDA and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations/World Health Organization (FAO/WHO) adopted the PDCAAS method as the preferred method to determine the quality of protein.

The PDCAAS score is a yardstick that grades the quality of a protein, and how well it is digested by the body.

1993/2013

There are various methods that rank the quality of different types of protein.

Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS)
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
1993
Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS)
Digestible Indispensable Amino Acid Score (DIAAS)
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
2013
Digestible Indispensable Amino Acid Score (DIAAS)

In March 2013, the Food and Agriculture Organization proposed to replace the PDCAAS ranking system with the Digestible Indispensable Amino Acid Score (DIAAS) DIAAS now supersedes PDCAAS method of ranking proteins.

Rotate Your Protein Sources at Mealtime

DIAAS system of measurement determines the amino acid digestibility at the end of the small intestine. This more accurately measures the amounts of amino acids absorbed by the body. It also measures the contribution of the protein to the human need for amino acid and nitrogen.

For best nutrition you should rotate your protein sources at each meal. You will get the best digestion and absorption in this way.

Stay Hydrated

Sixty percent of your body is composed of water. Replenish that water on a daily basis. Some recommend drinking at least 8 glasses of water a day.

Eat After Exercise

Eat carbohydrates and protein rich meal immediately after you exercise. Then you are supplying amino acids to your muscles. They kick start the muscle building growth process. You could try a peanut butter sandwich or a banana.

Encourage muscle growth by eating a carb and protein before bedtime. Have some carbs and protein again when you wake up in the morning.

Make a habit of reading food labels to get an idea of how many calories that you are eating each day. Don’t go on a calorie overload or you may find that you are packing on the pounds instead of the muscles!

In Conclusion

Sarcopenia or age-related muscle loss is normal as you age. If you want to reverse that you need to exercise and eat protein in order to increase muscle mass. When you eat sufficient protein as you age, you help your body repair cells, heal injuries, and keep a healthy immune system.

The body does not produce essential amino acids so they must be included in your diet. Vegetarians can build muscles and get complete proteins in their diet.

How can you prevent muscle loss as you age? Don’t forget to add some resistance training. You need to include some activity as well.

Please Leave a Comment

What type of foods do you eat? How do you incorporate protein into your diet?

I would love to hear from you!


Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional. No content on this site should be substituted for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare practitioner. The information contained here is for informational purposes only. It is from my research and personal experience.

4 thoughts on “How Can You Prevent Muscle Loss as You Age?”

  1. As I get older, I get more interested to learn about how can people prevent muscle loss, I found your article helpful and I learned some important things about what to eat and how eating good food will help me to stay fit for longer time, but I would love to learn more about this topic on women, as I think your article was more focused to help men, thanks. 

    1. Hi Alejandra, thanks for stopping by with a comment. I am glad to hear that you are interested in muscle loss in women. We have to deal with it on a daily basis. I think when women get older and frail it is a lot in part to muscle loss. I plan on writing more posts on staying strong as we age. It is a topic that is important to me, and I look for way to implement it in my own life! Cheers!

  2. Muscle loss can be indeed prevented by eating protein and working muscles everyday, at least with moderate exercise. Indeed, if you don’t use your muscles, they become useless and you’ll be flabby. So it really encourages me to have a physical activity and a healthy food intake. Do you believe that vegetarian protein is as effective as animal protein to build muscles? Thank you!

    1. Hi Angelce, and thanks for stopping by with a comment. There are some differences of opinion on animal and vegetable food products. It is becoming more widely accepted that vegetable protein will keep your veins clean and your heart healthy. So in that way you would be a healthier individual.

      If you avoid animal products and resort to junk food, you are not going to be a healthy individual.

      There are strong, healthy vegetarians out there in the world, I think it would take special attention to choose the right food combinations to get complete proteins.

      Yes, if you are careful with your food choices, I believe that vegetable protein can be as effective as animal protein to build muscles. 

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