In today’s society, men and women are constantly on the hunt for tips on anti-ageing, which is why science is looking at the effects of ageing on all fronts. A lot of attention is now being paid to the importance of maintaining muscle mass in keeping us healthy as we grow older. This is because having adequate muscle can help to keep us strong and mobile as we age, and better able to maintain our balance which can help prevent falls. And since having more lean muscle means we burn more calories even while we sleep, it should also help us to keep us in shape, too!
Not taking care of our muscles can cause us to get weaker and lose endurance. It’s a vicious circle - as muscles become weaker, we tend to exercise less. As a result, our loss in muscle means we burn fewer calories which – coupled with a decline in activity – can cause weight to start to creep up.
Genetics, physical activity all play their part in how much loss of muscle mass we experience as we age. But while we can’t change our genetic makeup, strength training and consumption of adequate dietary protein can help to slow the process of muscle loss.
Weight training is the exercise method of choice for preserving and building muscle. Not only can it help to increase muscle size and strength (even for folks in their 60s, 70s and beyond), but it also helps to increase muscle power too. And there’s another upside – it helps maintain bone mass. Aim for a twice-weekly exercise regime that targets all the major muscle groups.
To help maintain or build lean muscle mass, we need to eat adequate protein, and research suggests older people may actually need higher amounts of protein in the diet than younger adults in order to manufacture muscle tissue1. It’s also advisable to distribute protein intake fairly evenly throughout the day, rather than having little throughout the day and then a protein-rich meal at dinner.
Try to meet the recommendation of the Herbalife Nutrition Philosophy, and get up to 30% of your daily calories from protein.
Written by Susan Bowerman, MS, RD, CSSD. Susan is a paid consultant for Herbalife.1 Katsanos CS et al. Am J Clin Nutr 82:1065, 2005