Never take your muscle mass for granted. Beginning around age 30, many of us will begin to lose muscle mass at the rate of 3 to 8 percent per decade.
The reason for this often has to do with changes in hormonal levels. The male hormone testosterone and the female hormone estrogen are necessary to help build muscle but begin to reduce with age. In addition, there are changes in nerve and blood cells along with the body not converting amino acids to muscle tissue as efficiently.
Muscle loss does not have to be inevitable. Consistent weight training for both men and women is important to helping building and maintaining muscle mass.
1. Strength Training
Throughout life, lifting weights is a vital piece towards preserving muscle mass. Think of weight training as the same thing as keeping your brain fit by reading, doing crossword puzzles, playing games, etc.
Our muscles need that workout several times each week in order to keep strong, maintain balance and stability and give us stamina.
Each time you lift weights focus on muscle strengthening activities that work the major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, chest, abdomen, shoulders, and arms) at least two times each week.
Strength training includes lifting weights, using resistance bands, push-ups, pull-ups and sit-ups. Start with light free weights or work with a personal trainer to help you understand the correct form while lifting without hurting yourself.
2. Adequate protein
Most of us have sufficient protein intake on a day to day basis. In fact, eating additional protein offers no benefit than what we need and could be harmful for some people.
If you consume about 3 serving of low-fat or fat-free dairy plus 3 servings of protein foods (lean meat, poultry, fish, or beans) this will provide quality sources of protein to facilitate in building muscle.
A goal to strive for is to have between 20 to 30 grams of protein at each meal. Our body can only use up to 30 grams of protein at a time and any over that amount, will be stored as fat.
Here are protein amounts of common foods:
· 1 large egg – 6 grams
· 1 cup low-fat milk – 8 grams
· 1 cup low-fat yogurt – 12 grams
· ½ cup low-fat cottage cheese – 14 grams
· 2 tablespoons peanut butter – 8 grams
· 1 cup quinoa – 8 grams
· 3 ounces of lean ground beef – 22 grams
· 3 ounces of skinless, baked chicken – 26 grams
· 3 ounces of grilled salmon – 21 grams
3. Quality Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are necessary for the fuel they provide to the cells of the body keeping us feeling energized. Our muscles love carbohydrates because carbs are partially converted to glycogen, which is stored in your muscles powering your workouts. Around 50 to 60 percent of our total calories should be provided by carbs.
Choose quality carbs – whole grain breads and cereals, fruits, vegetables, beans, low-fat milk and yogurt – all of these foods are good options to giving you that extra boost of energy.
4. Focus on healthy fats
Fat can be a good thing when you wisely choose healthy types of fat. Our body needs fat as an energy source for muscles during physical activity. As a general guideline, fat should make up 20 to 35 percent of your total calories.
To get the best fat for overall health and muscle strength, focus on heart-healthy fats such as walnuts, almonds, avocados, fatty fish like salmon, halibut, mackerel, sardines, and trout. Use extra-virgin olive oil or canola oil when cooking.
Fats provide more calories per gram than either protein or carbs. Therefore, monitor your fat intake making healthy fats your fat of choice.