If you believe the hype, building muscle is as simple as working out. Fitness is simply the mind's victory over the body. It’s not that easy! The ease or difficulty of muscle gain varies throughout our lives for complex physiological reasons. And muscle loss can begin as early - at a rate of 3-8% each decade after the age of 30. The decline of skeletal muscle tissue with age is called sarcopenia. .
Gaining muscle, sustaining the gains, and reducing the rate at which fat accumulates all become more challenging as we age. Age-related muscle loss affects both men and women with a similar physical and emotional impact.
While muscle loss after the age of 40 is not always 100% unavoidable, there are things you could do to prevent or slow it down…and be stronger and fitter than most of your peers. Here are some considerations to stave off muscle loss.
Exercise can help to reverse and slow the progression of sarcopenia.
Keeping your muscles active is the most effective way to combat sarcopenia (1). Exercise of any kind is beneficial, but some are more effective than others.
Aerobic exercise, resistance training, and balance training can help to prevent and perhaps even reverse muscle loss. Two to four weekly exercise sessions are optimal (2).
Some of the most effective exercises to prevent or slow down muscle loss are:
- Resistance Training - the best way to build and maintain muscle
Pulling against resistance bands, weightlifting, and moving the body against gravity are all examples of resistance training.
The tension on the muscle fibers caused by resistance exercise leads to growth signals that lead to greater strength. Resistance exercise also boosts the actions of growth hormones (3).
The signals augment to cause cell growth and repair, both by producing new proteins and by activating "satellite cells," which are special muscle stem cells that bolster existing muscle (4).
Resistance exercise, as a result of this process, is the most direct way to increase muscle mass and prevent muscle loss.
A 12-week study of 57 adults aged 65 to 94 found that doing resistance exercises 3 times a week increased muscle strength (5).
- Walking - Get those steps in!
Walking can also help to prevent or even reverse sarcopenia. A study of 227 adults over the age of 65 discovered that six months of walking improved muscle mass, especially in those with low muscle mass (6).
The distance each participant walked varied, but they were urged to increase their daily total distance by 10% every month.
A different study of 879 individuals over the age of 60 discovered that those who walked faster were less likely to develop sarcopenia (7).
- Aerobic Training
Sustained heart-rate-raising exercise, such as endurance training and aerobic exercise, can help control sarcopenia (8).
The majority of studies on aerobic exercise for the prevention or treatment of sarcopenia have included flexibility and resistance training as part of a combined exercise program. These combinations have been shown to reverse and prevent sarcopenia (9). Again, resistance training is king!
You can curb muscle loss with diet
You may be more prone to muscle loss if you are low on calories, protein, or certain vitamins and minerals.
Even if you are not deficient, increasing your intake of certain key nutrients can encourage muscle growth or augment the benefits of exercise for muscle growth.
Consuming protein directly signals your muscle cells to grow and strengthen.
According to one study, when 33 men above the age of 70 ate a meal comprising a minimum of 35 grams of protein, the growth of their muscles increased (11).
Another study had seven men aged over 65 take daily 15 grams of supplements of essential amino acids, which are the smaller building blocks of protein, and the results were muscle growth (12).
The amino acid leucine is especially important for muscle growth regulation. Whey protein, fish, meat, eggs, and soy protein isolate are high in leucine (13).
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Consuming omega-3 fatty acids through seafood or supplements will increase muscle growth (14).
A 45-woman study discovered that a daily intake of 2 grams of fish oil supplement, when used alongside resistance training, enhanced muscle strength better than resistance training alone (15).
Part of this benefit could be attributed to omega-3 fatty acids' anti-inflammatory properties. However, research suggests that omega-3 fatty acids may also directly signal muscle growth (13).
Creatine supplementation for preventing muscle loss
Adding creatine supplements to your routine can prevent or slow muscle loss. When combined with exercise, there are only a few legal supplements that can directly increase muscle mass, and creatine is the most effective and comes with the most scientific support.
A review of 250 studies compared the most common muscle-building supplements and creatine was the most beneficial of all of them (16).
One 8-week study discovered that adding creatine to an exercise regimen increased muscle mass. Strength on the bench press increased, and myostatin, a protein that blocks muscle cell growth, was reduced (17).
Furthermore, a meta-analysis of over 150 studies found that taking creatine resulted in an average 2.2% rise in lean body mass and a 3.2% decline in body fat (18).
How to Use Creatine for Maximum Results
Creatine is available in a variety of forms. While newer forms of creatine are beneficial, they are no more beneficial than creatine monohydrate (19).
Until more research on the new versions is conducted, creatine monohydrate is likely the most beneficial and least expensive option available.
While long-term creatine supplementation is generally safe for healthy people, it may not be appropriate for those who have kidney disease or other related diseases, so consult yuour doctor if you have any medical issues (19).
Check out Creatine +Hydrate by Cerus Performance. Not only does it contain 5 grams of creatine monohydrate per serving, but also electrolytes in the form of sodium, potassium, magnesium and coconut water power. Salt (sodium) is thought to increase the rate creatine is absorbed. Creatine + Hydrate offers incredible benefits, including muscle growth as well as hydration.