I’m often asked how I maintain my strength and muscle mass being that I am in my fifties? My reply is that strength training is the foundation of my fitness program, and I always get the proper amount of protein in my diet to maximize muscle growth and repair. Scientific research is now proving that strength training and proper protein intake are two of the best ways to build and preserve your muscle mass as you age.
Severe muscle loss called sarcopenia affects nearly 4 million people in the United States resulting in weakness, fatigue, frailty, falls, fractures, disability, and even death. While most people associate muscle loss with old age, sarcopenia can begin as early as your 30s. Left unabated this condition accelerates with time as your body starts tearing down old muscle faster than it can build new muscle tissue. The good news is you can slow and in some cases reverse muscle loss as you age via regular strength training (also known as weight lifting), and getting the right amount of protein in your diet.
Scientific research is showing that weight lifting is one of the most effective ways of building and maintaining muscle mass as you age and here’s why. Strength training is a method of overloading your body with a resistance that you are not accustomed to lifting. In response your body adapts to this overloading process by building stronger muscles to accommodate the new load. Research says that by the time you reach middle age you should start lifting weights at least 2 times per week to retain your muscle. I lift weights 4 times each week to maximize my muscle mass and strength. I recommend you get with a properly trained fitness professional and let them design a safe and effective weight lifting program for you.
The second key to building and maintaining your muscle mass as you age is getting the proper amount of protein in your diet. There has been much debate on how much protein you need daily. While 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight (0.36 grams per pound) has been the normal recommendation for daily protein intake, new studies show that 1 to 1.5 grams of protein of per kilogram of body weight (0.45 to 0.68 grams per pound) may be more beneficial in building, maintaining, and reducing muscle loss as specially as you age.
Not only is getting the proper amount of protein in your diet important to supporting muscle growth and repair, but also the timing of protein consumption. The goal of protein consumption and lean muscle mass is to optimize muscle protein synthesis (the biological process by which muscle cells are regenerated). Research shows consuming 25 to 30 grams of high quality protein at each meal is necessary to stimulate protein synthesis. So, if don’t get the proper amount of protein at each meal optimal muscle growth and repair does not happen. I always make sure I get 25 to 30 grams of protein with each of my meals.
Try incorporating regular strength training and consuming the right amount of protein in your fitness plan and I assure you that you will see a gain in muscle mass and strength. Then people will ask you how do you stay so muscular and strong as you age.