How To Prevent (Or Reverse) Sarcopenia
Sarcopenia is a common condition among older individuals. It becomes increasingly pronounced after the age of fifty and can worsen our physical abilities and qualities of life.
The good news is, sarcopenia is also reversible and preventable. So long as we understand the condition and protect ourselves from it, we can lead long, healthy, and fulfilling lives.
Without further ado, let’s see what sarcopenia is, what causes it, and how to prevent it.
What is Sarcopenia And What Causes It?
Sarcopenia is an age-related condition characterized by loss of muscle, strength, and overall functionality (1). The condition becomes increasingly common after the age of fifty, but it can affect us earlier, too. According to research, people lose strength and muscle mass annually after the age of 30 (2).
Sarcopenia can occur for different reasons. In most cases, the condition is brought about by a combination of genetic, lifestyle, and other factors. For instance, leading a sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of muscle and strength loss (3). High stress also impacts our muscle tissue (4).
As we get older, the body becomes increasingly resistant to growth signals, which limits our potential to build muscle (5). It also makes us more likely to suffer from muscle loss.
Other factors, such as disease and poor nutrition, also play a significant role in age-related muscle loss. For instance, a diet based on processed foods typically lacks protein, which leads to muscle and strength loss.
The Two Common Symptoms of Sarcopenia
The most common symptom of sarcopenia is visible muscle loss. Most people have at least some muscle tone while they are younger. Tone and shape are particularly noticeable around the butt, shoulders, chest, arms, and back. But sarcopenia makes these areas smaller and robs us of our shape and curves.
The second significant symptom of sarcopenia is reduced strength and functionality. Losing muscle hinders our physical abilities, which shows in our daily lives, when playing sports or when having a gym workout.
Actionable Steps to Prevent Sarcopenia
The silver lining is that sarcopenia is a preventable and reversible condition. You can take actionable steps to prevent it from occurring as you get older. If you have the condition now, the same steps can reverse it.
The first step is to increase your protein intake to at least 1 to 1.2 grams per kilogram of body weight (8). If you weigh 70 kg, that would mean a daily goal of at least 70 to 84 grams. Meat, fish, eggs, cottage cheese, and protein powder are all fantastic options.
The second thing you need to do is introduce some form of exercise into your life. A good option is weight training, but you can start with bodyweight exercises and a bit of cardio. Training your muscles will stimulate them to grow and get stronger.
Third, get enough sleep. Research finds a correlation between sleep deprivation and increased rates of muscle protein breakdown (9). So, aim for at least seven hours of sleep per night.