Building and maintaining muscle as we age.
Building and maintaining muscle becomes that little bit harder as we age. One of the most important things to consider as we hit middle age is that there is a shift in our nutritional requirements. At the most fundamental level our resting metabolic rate starts to drop, meaning that we require fewer calories to maintain the same bodyweight. This means that not only is it harder to lose weight than when we were younger, but also that eating the same amounts of food, especially when combined with less active lifestyles, will likely lead to unwanted weight gain which can have severe implications on our health and well-being.
As we get older our body’s ability to efficiently use nutrients, especially protein, is also diminished. This means that we need to not only make sure we pay careful attention to our overall calorie intake, but that the foods we eat are nutrient dense and protein becomes of increased importance in our diet.
Combining a high protein diet with resistance training will help protect both muscle and bone. Preserving, or even increasing lean tissue whilst reducing our fat mass to healthy levels will improve our overall function, hormonal profiles and the ability to use nutrients more effectively… plus we look and feel a little better too!
With ageing it does becomes harder to maintain and develop muscle. But, it is still possible to transform your physique in your forties and beyond. The two main factors in any programme to help protect and develop muscle against sarcopenia (age related declines in muscle) are resistance training and the right nutrition; including a high protein diet and lots fruit and vegetables.
There are certain supplements that can help us in this regard. Protein powders to help meet daily protein requirements, although not required if you eat enough quality protein in the diet is an obvious and popular one. However, there are some other supplements which can provide essential and often missing components of the diet for building and maintaining muscle.
Creatine is an effective sports supplement well known for its ability to support strength which has an obvious impact on our capacity to perform in the gym and develop new muscle. More recently though it has been found that creatine may have a direct muscle protective effect and even help protect the brain against ‘neurodegeneration’.
As we get older we also tend to have a greater inflammatory response to exercise, which inhibits our capacity to grow muscle, so using natural anti-inflammatories such as omega 3/fish oils can also help support muscle growth.
As well as muscle we also have to consider bone health. Vitamin D is something that many people lack, especially in the winter months when we don’t get enough sunlight. Using vitamin D3 supplements can help protect against age related bone losses, this also plays essential roles in many of the body’s systems that are involved in bone, muscle and general health making it a supplement I consider essential regardless of a person’s goal.
I am a 41 year old personal trainer working with and supporting my clients through all aspects of their health, strength and fitness.