Sarcopenia is a condition known as muscle loss.
It mostly affects people who have passed their fifties, and it can decrease life expectancy and quality. The peak muscle mass is usually achieved in the late 30s and early 40s when a gradual loss of muscle mass begins.
Sarcopenia can occur quicker than you may think as physically inactive people can lose as much as 3-5% of their muscle mass each decade after the age of 30. As there is a strong relationship between strength and muscle mass, any loss of muscle mass is a cause for concern, although there is no specific level of muscle mass or lean body mass at which someone can say sarcopenia is present. This condition can significantly contribute to a decrease in life quality.
Sarcopenia can’t be prevented, but luckily, it can be slowed down when people enter their 30s.
1. Get your hormones in balance
Muscle mass can greatly be affected by hormonal factors. A hormonal imbalance can directly affect sarcopenia, for women in particular, as concentrations of the hormone estradiol get reduced during the menopause in middle-aged and older women. During the postmenopausal period, the production of ovarian hormones decreases, which leads to impaired muscle performance. As a hormonal imbalance and changes may play a significant role in sarcopenia in older women, it is advised to track hormone levels during an annual blood work. When it comes to men, they should check their testosterone, growth hormone and DHEA levels, and try to bring their hormones in balance using natural supplementation.
2. Increase the intake of dietary protein
When it comes to building and repairing muscle fibers, protein is the most valuable food. People over age 70 tend to eat less than recommended (which is 0.8 g of protein per kg of body weight). However, adults who are 65 and older need higher levels of dietary protein, up to 1.2 g of protein per kg of body weight. This is a great target for daily protein intake for healthy adults. As for those with sarcopenia, their protein intake should be 1.5 g/kg of protein a day.
In order to know how much protein you need, take your body weight (in kilograms) and multiply it by 1.2, which will give you the recommended amount of protein per day. For example, if you weigh 70 kg, aim for about 85 g of protein per day. Fish, poultry, and most meat have 7 g of protein in an ounce, while one egg or one cup of milk can supplement you with 8 g of protein. Eat high-protein snacks between meals to reach your daily protein count.
3. Omega-3 fatty acids
According to a study published in 2011, omega-3 fatty acids may be useful for the treatment and prevention of sarcopenia as they are found to stimulate the synthesis of muscle protein in older adults. Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory effects and help to preserve muscle mass under different physiological conditions. To increase your omega-3 acid intake, consider supplementing your diet with flaxseed oil or fish oil, or add salmon, herring, trout, white fish, tuna, chia seeds, walnuts, anchovies, and hemp seeds to your shopping list.
Walking is an activity that people can do anywhere, and it is known to prevent sarcopenia (and even reverse the process). Sarcopenia is best fought when you use your muscles, and walking gives a workout to your glutes and tones your calves, hamstrings, and quadriceps. To avoid injury and prevent the process of sarcopenia, it is of the utmost importance to exercise every muscle group you can and prevent losing lean muscle mass.
5. Strength training
If you lead a sedentary lifestyle, you must give up on it as soon as possible because your muscles need to be active in order not to lose their mass. Equip yourself with some quality bodybuilding clothes that allow your body to breathe and move freely, and start with a strength training routine. Among other things, strength training includes pulling resistance bands and weightlifting. During strength training, your body strength gets increased due to tension on your muscle fibers and the increased action of hormones that promote growth. All of these cause muscle cells to repair themselves and grow – a process which directly affects the prevention of muscle mass loss.
Sarcopenia can be prevented or reversed even with simple exercises such as walking. Exercising is the most effective way of battling the condition, especially strength training. Go to your local gym and ask the staff to show you some strength training exercises, like lifting weights, calisthenics, and how to use resistance bands. Supplement yourself with enough protein and creatine, as well as omega-3 supplements, to increase your life quality and maintain healthy muscle mass.