How to Prevent Muscle Loss
The human body is naturally equipped with a certain amount of muscle, which is dependent on several factors including age, gender and genetics. As we age, we naturally begin to lose muscle, something which can mostly be attributed to a decline in testosterone, as well as slowing down of physical activity. Muscle atrophy, a sharper decline in muscle loss, can also occur after a period of immobilisation such as prolonged injury or a long hospital stay. Under the age of 30 muscle loss occurs at around 1-2%, while after the age of about 60 it can ramp up to around 3%. To stave off muscle loss and ensure you keep as much muscle mass as possible, there are a few things you can do.
Eat more protein
Proteins are large molecules that play an important role in the structure, function and maintenance of the body’s tissues and organs. Protein is made up of amino acids, smaller building blocks that help to build cells, create muscle tissue, support the immune system and promote energy production. Creating protein is essential as it’s what helps to promote muscle maintenance and growth. When it comes to how much protein you should be having, the RDA is around 0.8g of protein per kg of body weight. That’s the amount you need to survive though and not thrive, so a better estimate is between 1.2 – 1.15g. For a 70kg person, that’s around 84g a day or the equivalent of the size of a chicken breast per meal. If you need to supplement your protein intake, try Workshop's Organic Pea Protein Formula.
Try strength training
Exercise that uses resistance such as your own body weight to contract muscles is one way to help maintain muscle mass and definition. When you work muscle fibres, it causes tiny tears in them, which the body then repairs using nutrients from our food. As the muscles are rebuilt, they’re done so stronger and bigger, so it’s important to eat well alongside your strength training programme. For best results, aim to incorporate some form of strength training into your workout routine around 3 times a week minimum, making sure you focus on different muscle groups each time and not all at the same time. Great strength training exercises to try include weight training, Pilates, yoga, and anything that uses your own bodyweight such as push-ups, pull-ups and sit-ups. With all these exercises, as well as helping to prevent muscle loss, you’ll be boosting your endurance and increasing your strength in the process.
If you don’t have time to commit to gym sessions, or you’re not a natural gym goer, you can still work on reducing muscle loss by keeping as active as possible. Walking, running and getting your steps in however you can, are all good ways to keep your muscles active, plus they’ll help improve your skeletal health and ease your daily functional movements along the way.
Get enough sleep
Ensuring you get a solid stretch of between 7 – 9 hours a night is essential if you want to maintain muscle mass and prevent loss. As well as producing growth hormones you need to build lean muscle and repair any damage incurred during the day, if you do regularly work out, sleep allows the body to conserve energy and repair and build up the muscles you may have worked on during an exuberant training session. It also helps balance blood sugar, blood pressure and hormones, all of which can help you retain muscle mass.