After turning 30, the effects of natural aging start taking a toll on our muscles, and this continues throughout our lives. We lose up to four percent of our muscle mass per year after hitting 30.
How do our muscles age with time? Both muscle mass and muscle strength decline, and this process speeds up after 30, which can affect our mobility and bodily functions. This can lead to changes in our lifestyle and may prevent us from doing the things that we would normally find effortless. This would mean that we no longer have the muscle strength and endurance we once had during our youth. Moreover, weight gain may be a concern as we become metabolically less active.
Luckily, there are things we can do to slow down the natural loss of muscle mass as we age. Read on to find out more.
Muscle Strength Training
If you don’t take steps to actively work and strengthen your muscles, they will begin to age and decrease in mass. In other words, not using your muscles means losing them with time. Resistance training can help to keep them challenged and in shape.
Strength training using resistance to contract muscles is the best way to combat age-related muscle loss. While aerobic training is great to get your heart rate up, it doesn’t bring the same benefits as strength training when it comes to muscle mass. There are many ways you can build strength at home without needing to go to the gym or rely on expensive equipment.
For example, you can do exercises like squats, push-ups, and dips that use your body weight to create resistance. You can also use resistance bands and weighted balls to give your muscles an extra workout.
Some benefits of strengthening your muscles using resistance training include reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and even depression and other mental health conditions. Strength training using weights can also improve your balance as you build your core muscles.
Eat Enough Protein
Long strands of amino acids are the building blocks of muscles and can be found in protein-rich foods. Our muscles are constantly being broken down and replaced, so they need sufficient amino acids to be rebuilt.
You may be wondering how much protein you require in your diet. For people with a more sedentary lifestyle, they need about 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram of their body weight. More active people may require twice that amount. Some research shows that people over the age of 60 may need more protein due to anabolic resistance, whereby muscles become resistant to stimuli that are meant to promote their growth.
For people who want to avoid meat-based protein in their diets, there are vegetarian sources of protein like lentils, beans, tofu, tempeh, and whole grains that can be eaten to provide a sufficient daily intake of protein. Vegetables also have small amounts of protein.
Get Enough Vitamin D
We get natural vitamin D when our skin is exposed to direct sunlight. If you’re not living in an area that gets a lot of light, then you can use vitamin D supplements. Try to consume foods that are rich in vitamin D such as fatty fish, mushrooms, eggs, milk, fortified cereal, and yogurt. Vitamin D is also important for bone health and our immune systems and may help to slow muscle loss and promote muscle recovery after training.
Get Enough Potassium
Our bodies need this important electrolyte for a range of functions like muscle contraction and maintaining a regular heartbeat. While potassium has many health benefits, it’s also particularly important at protecting against muscle loss, so be sure to get sufficient amounts of potassium in your diet.
Get Enough Sleep
Sleep helps our bodies to rejuvenate, recover, and protects against stress and disease. Our muscle tissues are constantly being replaced, and sleep ensures that our bodies have enough energy to do that.
Eat Enough Omega-3 Fats
Omega-3 are essential fatty acids that have multiple health benefits that include maintaining muscle mass. This is because they have anti-inflammatory properties which help protect muscles from being broken down. Some foods like salmon, walnuts, and eggs are rich in omega-3.