You may still feel like a teenager most of the time. Well, at least in your mind. But if you’re like a lot of us, your body doesn’t always cooperate.
If you don’t feel quite as strong these days as you did when you were a fresh-faced kid, you’re in good company. It’s totally normal to lose a bit of muscle as you age. In fact it’s even got a name—sarcopenia.
A number of things can contribute to shrinking muscles. Not getting as much exercise as you used to, dropping hormone levels, not taking in enough of the right nutrients and even your body not converting some of those nutrients as well as it used to, can all play a part.
And that muscle shrink can show up in a variety of ways from having trouble removing caps from jars, to tiring out more easily, to feeling a little less steady on your feet. But if you’re losing muscle too fast you could be in danger of becoming “old before your time.” And what’s worse is it could spell an end to your independence.
Refuse to become a frail old man or woman with these tips for strong and toned muscles no matter what your age—including one that could help you boost your muscle mass by 25 percent in mere months!
Stop the shrink with sunshine:
Your muscles will experience some shrinkage over the years, but you can put the brakes on that shrink with a daily dose of sunshine.
Low vitamin D levels are linked to muscle weakness and loss as we age.1,2,3,4 But simply by boosting your lagging levels you can help your muscles perform better, and slash your risk of falling.5,6
According to experts vitamin D is critical for muscle building, and just 20 minutes outdoors in the sun without sunscreen a day can provide you with enough of the vital vitamin to significantly slash muscle shrinkage.
You can also raise your D levels by eating more wild caught oily fish and eggs, or with a vitamin D-3 supplement.
Sip this drink daily to hold onto muscle:
Researchers say as we get older and become a bit less active, green tea could be the key to keeping our muscles from breaking down.7 Already starting to feel the effects of aging on your muscles? Green tea may be able to help you bounce back sooner.8
Sipping on three cups of green tea a day can help halt the loss of muscle fiber, according to research published in the journal Nutrition.9 And experts say the EGCG in green tea can help you build more muscle mass and gain strength.10,11
Pump it up with protein:
If you’re like most folks your appetite has gotten smaller as you got older. That might seem like a good thing at first glance. But your smaller appetite can mean that you aren’t always getting all the protein you need to maintain healthy, strong muscles. Especially since experts say we need even more of it when we’re 65 or older.
In other words, to prevent muscle loss it’s important that you concentrate on eating plenty of protein rich foods. But it turns out the kind of protein you get, and when you eat that protein, is important too.
According to researchers, the essential amino acid leucine—found in certain types of proteins—can help us hold onto muscle mass, no matter our age.12 You’ll find leucine in grass fed beef, whey protein, wild caught fish, lentils, poultry and free-range eggs.
Most folks skimp on the protein at breakfast, loading up on carb-heavy foods instead. But according to a study published in the Journal of Nutrition that could cost you. To get the most out of your protein, and boost muscle building by 25 percent, spread it out so you’re getting an equal amount at each of your three main meals.13
Make sure your muscles stay as young as your mind with these three easy tricks for maintaining strong and toned muscles, no matter how many birthdays you’ve celebrated. And be sure to add in a bit of strength training every week to supercharge their benefits, such as taking a brisk walk with some hand weights or giving our easy and fun “No-Workout Workout” a try.
1. “Vitamin D and Sarcopenia,” Adv Obes Weight Manag Control, 2017, 6(3): 00155
2. “More than healthy bones: a review of vitamin D in muscle health,” Ther Adv Musculoskelet Dis. 2015 Aug; 7(4): 152–159
3. “Vitamin D Deficiency Is Associated with Sarcopenia in Older Koreans, Regardless of Obesity: The Fourth Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (KNHANES IV) 2009,” J Clin Endocrinol Metab (2011) 96 (10): 3250-3256
4. “A prospective study of the associations between 25-hydroxy-vitamin D, sarcopenia progression and physical activity in older adults,” Clinical Endoccrinology, Volume 73, Issue 5, November 2010, Pages 581–587
5. “Vitamin D and Its Role in Skeletal Muscle,” Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2009 Nov; 12(6): 628–633
6. “Vitamin D: A Review on Its Effects on Muscle Strength, the Risk of Fall, and Frailty.” Biomed Res Int. 2015; 2015: 953241
7. “Green tea extract attenuates muscle loss and improves muscle function during disuse, but fails to improve muscle recovery following unloading in aged rats,” J Appl Physiol (1985). 2015 Feb 1;118(3):319-30
8. “Epigallocatechin-3-gallate improves plantaris muscle recovery after disuse in aged rats,” Exp Gerontol. 2014 Feb;50:82-94
9. “Consumption of green tea favorably affects oxidative stress markers in weight-trained men,” Nutrition. 2008 May;24(5):433-42
10. “Effects of exercise and tea catechins on muscle mass, strength and walking ability in community-dwelling elderly Japanese sarcopenic women: a randomized controlled trial,” Geriatr Gerontol Int. 2013 Apr;13(2):458-65
11. “The effects of green tea consumption and resistance training on body composition and resting metabolic rate in overweight or obese women,” J Med Food. 2013 Feb;16(2):120-7
12. “Dietary protein recommendations and the prevention of sarcopenia,” Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2009 Jan; 12(1): 86–90
13. Z”Dietary Protein Distribution Positively Influences 24-h Muscle Protein Synthesis in Healthy Adults,” J Nutr. 2014 Jun; 144(6): 876–880
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