Sacopenia is the progressive loss of muscle mass, function, quality, and strength related to the aging process. When the word aging comes mind most people think of 65 plus, however you can start to lose muscle mass in your 30s. As a matter of fact, between the ages of 30 to 60, the average adult will gain 1 lb of weight and lose 1/2 lb of muscle yearly. That’s a gain of 30 lbs of fat and a loss of 15 lbs of muscle over a 30 year period.
How does this happen? Beginning in their mid-30s most people start to lead a more sedentary lifestyle. They have careers, get married, have children, and lead less physically active lives, and as a consequence they begin to lose muscle mass. Your body is designed for physical activity, and the old saying “use it or lose it” is true when it comes to your body, especially your muscle mass.
Why do you gain body fat and lose muscle? Muscle is the component of your body that is active and burns the most calories. Muscle mass burns calories while you are at rest just to maintain itself, even when you are asleep. A pound of muscle burns approximately 6 calories per day at rest and a lot more if you are active. On the other hand, body fat is designed to be used by your body in times of famish. It is encoded in your body to store body fat just in case you have to go without food for several days. Consequently body fat only burns about 1 calorie per day to maintain itself. So, over time as you lose your muscle mass you lose your capacity to burn the calories you consume at the highest level. Other words, your metabolism drops in relation to your muscle loss.
What can be done to prevent sacopenia? Research shows the two most important things your can do to prevent muscle loss as you age is regular strength training, and consuming the proper amount of protein high quality protein at each meal. Two to three strength training sessions each week elicits an anabolic response (repair and growth) in your muscles causing your body to adapt to the increased demand to the resistance you are lifting. Getting enough protein at breakfast, lunch, and dinner signals your body that it is okay to use the protein to rebuild and repair your muscles thus, maintaining your muscle mass. Experts agree that 25 to 30 grams of high quality protein at each meal is enough to maximize muscle growth and repair.