By Gabe Sanders Ph.D., NSCA-CSCS
Have you ever heard your doctor talk about sarcopenia?
Well, the term “sarcopenia” is the medical term used to define the deterioration of muscle tissue, strength, and muscular power. While age-related declines in the muscle are inevitable, there are numerous ways to combat the decline and maintain positive aging.
Maintaining good lean muscle mass does not mean you have to be a bodybuilder or professional athlete. In fact, daily physical activity combined with exercise and strength training is enough to maintain muscle, but there are other ways in which you can contribute to positive aging via increasing muscle mass, strength, and power as you age.
In a research review article published in Nutrients, the authors concluded that certain nutritional recommendations can be made to potentially prevent sarcopenia.
Here are the recommendations from the research:
- Daily protein intake: 1.6 g/kg/day which equates to approximately 110 grams per day for the average 150-pound person.
- Supplement with leucine (which is an amino acid), omega-3 fatty acids (usually from fish sources), and creatine (pill or powder supplement) to help with daily recovery.
- Vitamin D may not help with preventing muscle loss, however, it is recommended to take as a supplement to avoid any deficiencies which may prevent illness and disease as well as improve bone health.
- Foods high in antioxidants (bright-colored fruits and superfoods) do not appear to be a factor to prevent muscle mass loss.
Complex carbohydrates combined with protein stimulates muscle building
While the aforementioned study expounded on these conclusions, it is also recommended to consume complex, slow-digesting carbohydrates such as whole grains and vegetables on a daily basis. Consuming complex carbohydrates, combined with protein is the primary nutritional strategy to stimulate muscle building in the body.
Carbohydrates will also provide energy to your brain and provide energy to build muscle during the day and throughout the night. On the contrary, without carbohydrates, it may be possible to experience muscle loss. Just know that carbohydrate intake recommendations may vary from person to person, wholesome carbohydrates are required to build muscle.
McKendry, James, et al. “Nutritional Supplements to Support Resistance Exercise in Countering the Sarcopenia of Aging.” Nutrients 12.7 (2020): 2057.
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