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Preventing Muscle Loss With Age

Preventing muscle loss becomes more difficult as we age. Thanks to various factors, such as reduced physical activity and lower testosterone levels, people lose their muscle mass gradually.


The problem is, muscle loss also comes with decreased strength and overall functionality. If you want to remain healthy, happy, and independent as you get older, you need to protect your muscle.


Today, we’ll go over why muscle growth occurs and how we can prevent it.


Your Results Depend On Two Primary Things


Your body composition, circumstances, health, and fitness depend on two things: genetics and habits. 


For example, one person might be genetically blessed to carry more muscle and less fat. Another person might be predisposed to have less muscle and more fat. Both individuals can be relatively similar because of their habits. Person A might slack off due to the nice genetic cards they’ve been dealt. Person B might work hard to overcome the natural limitations and rise above them.


Since we can’t do much about our genetic code, it’s much more productive to focus on the second part: building better habits.


The Reality of Muscle Loss With Aging


We take our muscle mass and physical functionality for granted. We have it now, so we feel like it’s always going to be around. The troubling thing is, your body doesn’t want to have too much muscle on itself. Muscle costs energy, so the body breaks it down if we don’t use it (1, 2).


Research suggests that we begin to lose anywhere from three to eight percent of our muscle mass per decade beyond the age of 30 (3). The more significant issue is that we don’t notice it happening until it’s too late. We lose muscle over such a long period that we barely notice it from month to month or year to year. But looking back a decade, we can see vast losses of muscle and physical ability.


How to Maintain (And Gain) Lean Muscle Mass


The first step to maintaining muscle loss or reversing age-related loss is admitting that this is real. Too many people feel like muscle is a given, and it’s always going to be around. But sarcopenia is a real condition with many adverse effects (2).


Once you accept the genuine possibility of muscle loss, the two most important things you need to do are: consume enough protein and remain physically active (4, 5).


Protein provides you with amino acids, which are the building blocks your body needs to:

  • Build, repair, and maintain muscle tissue
  • Produce hormones and enzymes
  • Create cells, antibodies, and neurotransmitters


Protein is essential for your health and muscle tissue, so you should aim to consume around two grams per kilo of body weight (4). If you weigh 70 kilos, aim for 140 grams of protein daily. 

Staying physically active is also essential because that provides a regular stimulus to your muscles, essentially telling your body, “Hey! We’re using this muscle every day, so keep it around!” Some form of resistance training, such as bodyweight training or lifting weights, will be your best option (5). Other types of exercise, such as cardio, HIIT, and circuit training, are also beneficial.