The Vital Importance of Lean Muscle Mass
Did you know your muscle mass decreases 3-8% for every decade after age 30? The rate of loss is even higher for adults 60 and older!
As we age, our bodies become resistant to growth signals, and muscle cells may die faster than they regenerate. Building and maintaining muscle mass is critical for your health, so let’s look at some reasons you might be losing muscle and what you can do about it.
Why is muscle mass important?
Having strong muscles is key for stability, balance, and flexibility, making injuries and falls less likely. Muscle mass can increase your metabolism and contribute to weight loss. Strong core muscles can prevent or relieve back pain. Not only that, you’ll be able to enjoy your favorite activities longer before you get tired.
Why do we lose muscle mass?
One of the most common reasons people lose muscle mass is that they don’t get enough lean protein in their diet. Researchers recommend adults get at least 25-30 grams of protein at each meal. It may not seem like much, but one recent study[d] found that up to 46% of mature adults consume insufficient protein.
Another major reason for muscle loss is immobility from accident or illness, or a sedentary lifestyle—a classic example of use it or lose it.
Our bodies are programmed to be efficient. Muscle tissue is expensive to maintain, so your body doesn’t want to pay for it if it’s not being used. Muscle burns 3 times more calories than fat, even when resting! That means 10 pounds of resting muscle tissue will burn 60 calories in a day, while 10 pounds of fat burns only 20.
Add more muscle and burn calories in your sleep!
How do I build muscle?
Get more protein into your diet
You can now go beyond vanilla and find other tempting flavors, like chocolate. A couple of scoops in a smoothie feels more dessert than supplement. For only 130 calories, you can get 31 grams of protein. You’d have to eat 60% more calories to get the same amount of protein from beef, and almost 50% more from chicken.
Add strength-training exercises
You don’t need to spend hours at the gym or even have equipment at home. Here are three simple exercises you can start today:
Wall pushups: Stand 2 feet away from the wall and put your hands on the wall at shoulder height. Keeping your body straight, bend and then straighten your elbows.
Chair squats: Stand in front of a sturdy chair with your feet hip-width apart. Lean forward slightly and squat down to touch your backside to the chair before standing straight again.
Heel taps: Lie on your back with your legs in the air, bent at the knee. Holding your lower back to the floor, alternate tapping each heel on the ground.
Muscle strength isn’t just for bodybuilders. All of us will benefit from stepping up our protein intake and focusing on getting strong.
Let’s get healthier, together,
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