In addition to being fanatical about nutrition, I am also fanatical about weight lifting. Building muscle is one of the most important factors in maintaining your health. Whatever gender you are and regardless of age. This is because your muscle tissue plays a vital role in keeping you well.
Yes, muscle makes you look great, but its function goes way beyond looking good naked. Your muscles are involved in your stability, circulation, respiration, metabolism, and even brain function, including your mood and your cognition. When muscle mass declines, you are at a higher risk of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, depression, and cognitive decline. In addition, loss of muscle mass, also called sarcopenia, increases the risk of falling, broken bones, and imparied ability to heal from injuries.
Muscle mass starts to decline much earlier than you might expect. Starting at the ripe old age of 30, people experience a loss of 3-8% of their muscle mass each decade. This loss accelerates to 15% by the time we are 75. This might not seem like such a big deal at age 40, but the compound effect is significant.
Sarcopenia is a major cause of disability, loss of independence, and death.
While some loss of muscle mass is normal to aging, lack of resistance training and proper nutrition play key roles in progressive sarcopenia.
The good news is that it is never too late to start exercising. Walking is a great form of exercise and can, in fact, keep your muscles in decent form. But in order to gain muscle, which will prevent and even reverse muscle loss, using some sort of weight training or resistance training is needed. Weight training initiates the growth of new muscle and improves muscle endurance.
If you have never done this form of exercise, it can be intimidating to get started. I recommend working with a trainer or taking a class, either in-person or online, to make sure you are getting a good enough workout and that your form is correct so you can avoid injury.
Here I am, hammering on again about nutrient density, but it is SO important. When it comes to building muscle, protein is the most important nutrient. Protein should come from pasture-raised eggs, poultry and pork, 100% grass-fed beef, and wild caught seafood.
One of my favorite sources for healthy protein is Butcher Box. They have excellent sourced proteins and offer a convenient subscription.
While many of us have been warned against eating too much meat, the reality is that most people do not get enough in their diet. Often substituting high carbohydrate, highly processed foods in their place.
In order to help you gain muscle mass, and prevent the loss in the first place, it is recommended that you eat 25-30g, or 3-4 oz of protein at each meal. These recommendations are for the average person. Keep in mind that if you are chronically ill, pregnant, an athlete, etc. your recommendations will be different.
Here is the thing about animal protein: it is the most nutrient dense food available to us. In fact, when you take into account nutrient density Dr. Matt Lalonde created a database ranking foods by nutrient density.
From highest nutrient density to lowest: organ meats, nuts and seeds, seafood, beef, lamb, and wild game. Raw vegetables, then pork, eggs, dairy, poultry, and processed meats. Legumes, cooked or canned vegetables, fruit, plant fats, grains and pseudograins.
As you can see, when you are concerned about nutrient density, as you should be, eating animal protein is very important.
There are several supplements available that can also help with increasing your muscle mass.
Creatine, a long time favorite of body builders, has consistently been shown to increase strength gains, free fat mass (everything in the body that is not fat), help to grow new muscles, and shorten recovery time (helps to prevent muscles from becoming too sore). It is generally considered a safe supplement to use short-term.
Pay attention to your muscle mass. Resistance training and eating more protein can help to prevent sarcopenia, that muscle wasting that we see with aging. This is an important part of your general health and wellness program that can prevent disease and disability. It is never too late to start!
Give me a call and let’s start working together to help you with your muscle mass and overall health.
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