Chronological aging begins at birth, and you can’t stop the clock from ticking. However, there’s also biological aging, and evidence suggests the aging of your cells can indeed be slowed, and in some cases even reversed.This is particularly true of muscle tissue, which can be regenerated even at an advanced age with the appropriate diet and exercise.It may come as a surprise that muscle aging may start at a relatively young age. By the time you enter your third decade of life, age-related muscle decline may already have begun if you’ve neglected to take proactive steps to prevent it.Without intervention, you can lose an average of nearly seven pounds (three kilos) of muscle per decade.
It’s important to realize that your daily activities play a key role in this process. What you eat, when you eat, and how you exercise all translate into gene activities that dictate the speed at which your body ages.In the short term, any amount of lean muscle or strength loss can cause annoyances ranging from not being able to open a jar of pickles to premature aging (sunken cheeks, more pronounced wrinkling). And if left unchecked, sarcopenia can lead to a host of issues later in life, including disability and increased mortality risk due to frailty. It also ups your odds for metabolic disorders and type 2 diabetes—since muscle tissue helps regulate blood sugar, insulin and other hormones.
Insulin Resistance Promotes Muscle Wasting
First of all, it’s important to realize that maintaining healthy insulin sensitivity is part and parcel of maintaining healthy muscle and avoiding sarcopenia.The triple combination of doing high intensity exercises while fasting and consuming high-quality whey protein 30 minutes after your workout is one potent strategy for preventing insulin resistance and muscle wasting.Another lifestyle factor to consider is sensible sun exposure, as vitamin D is critically important for muscle function. (It’s also essential for bone health, along with calcium and magnesium.) Vitamin D deficiency also raises your risk for insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, regardless of your weight.
While you’d need to eat about 1.5 pounds of chicken or 0.5 pounds of raw cheddar cheese to get 8 grams of leucine from your diet, you only need 3 ounces of high-quality whey to reach the suggested amount, making it an ideal choice.If you’re over the age of 50, you may also need to increase your protein intake to maintain optimal muscle protein synthesis. Recent research3 suggests older people may need about 1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day, which is double the current RDA guideline.
That said, there is an upper limit to how much protein your body can actually use, so protein in and of itself is not a magic solution against sarcopenia. There are risks involved with eating too much protein, including an increased risk for cancer, so you don’t want to exclusively rely on protein to “save” your muscles. You still need strength training to actually build muscle, and if you have cancer, you need to be particularly cautious about consuming excessive amounts of protein.
Beware of Inferior Whey Products That May Do More Harm Than Good
here’s no shortage of whey products on the market, but unfortunately most of them are of inferior quality and will not provide the health benefits associated with high-quality whey. Make sure you use a whey protein concentrate. Concentrates also contain glutamylcysteine, the major precursor to glutathione; another phenomenal anti-aging nutrient.For the highest quality possible, opt for whey derived from raw milk cheese manufacturing. One of the most important components of whey is glycomacropeptides (GMP), which has potent immune-supporting components that also support healthy gut flora. However, only whey produced from raw milk can grant you these benefits. Other varieties do not.
Exercise Is Key to Preventing Loss of Muscle
Last but certainly not least, avoiding age-related muscle loss is difficult if not near impossible without regular exercise. Resistance or strength training is particularly important for the elderly. The American College of Sports Medicine, the American Heart Association, and the US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) recommend engaging in muscle strengthening activities targeting all major muscle groups at least two days per week.9