Can you actually fight and stop muscle loss after 50? Many men ask themselves this question when they reach this age – but not all act. By following the three basic steps in this article, you can help to protect your muscle from sarcopenia, and live a happier, healthier, and stronger life.
1. Eat enough protein
When you were a younger man, it probably felt like you could eat and do anything while still building muscle. You probably noticed this the most when you were in your late-teens and early twenties. Fortunately, your masculine hormones were flowing at their peak, making muscle building high on your body’s to-do list.
Depending on your interests, you may or may not have grown up thinking about your nutrition. But the truth is what you eat can have a huge impact on your physique – not just body fat. Protein is the macronutrient necessary for maintaining and building muscle, meaning, it’s integral for men over 50.
By adding enough to your diet you’re giving your body the building blocks it needs to shore up and bolster its muscle mass. Scientists say that as men age, the balance between muscle growth and breakdown falls out of line in favor of wastage. Eating too little protein can only fuel the effects, as you struggle to supply resources to fight it.
To ensure you’re getting enough, try to eat a portion of protein with every meal. If you exercise, you should also try to snack on protein throughout the day too. Protein drinks are an easy way to boost your intake between meals or before bed if you’re not that hungry. We recommend aiming for around one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight when lifting weights, which we’ll cover shortly.
Current research suggests that men over 50 should aim for 25-30 g in every meal. You should be able to achieve this easily with a fist sized portion of lean meat or fish. Eggs are also a great breakfast food as they are the most bioavailable source of amino acids on the planet. Plant based proteins can also be used, although due to their lower bioavailability, it’s advised you eat a little more of them compared to standard.
2. Look after your testosterone
Think back to that previously mentioned time of your youth and how your body felt. You were strong, assertive, energized, and full of vitality. More importantly, you were at the apex of your natural testosterone production.
Unfortunately, by aged 30, your testosterone has already started to decline. Alarmingly, many men don’t quite understand how important this hormone is for muscle and overall wellbeing. Not only does it help to regulate anabolism and protein synthesis (the process of building muscle), but it also impacts body fat storage, strength and energy. Testosterone is also responsible for libido and sexual performance too.
What can you do? Firstly, ensure you’re eating a well-balanced diet full of foods that contain nutrients beneficial for masculine health. These include the likes of zinc and magnesium, vitamins D and B, as well as other minerals such as boron. Many of the best testosterone boosting supplements for men over 50 include these micronutrients in their formulas.
Secondly, take control of your lifestyle. Try to reduce stressors as they are a major cause of cortisol, a hormone which blocks testosterone. This could mean not taking on so many projects at work or taking more time to relax for yourself.
In addition to reducing stress, ensure you’re sleeping for a minimum of seven, quality hours every night. Poor quality sleep is a double-edged sword for muscle loss after 50 – as it impacts both exercise recovery and testosterone. If you are concerned about your physical health, give care to your evening routine.
3. Lift weights
Resistance training isn’t just for young bodybuilding types. It’s actually a highly effective way for men to preserve muscle as they age. Unfortunately, lifting weights is often portrayed as something only 20-somethings can do, but this just isn’t true.
In fact, it is recommended that people continue to challenge their bodies well into later life. As the saying goes; use it or lose it.
One study of 1328 men who were older than 50 say that those who lifted weights saw significant increases in muscle compared to a test group. Researchers officially said that resistance exercise is effective in helping men in this age group build lean mass. They also suggested that higher-volume programs to be the best too.
What do you need to do? Try to get into the gym at least three times a week with a routine that covers your whole body within one week. Ideally, you will perform full body workouts on every visit, taking a day to rest up between them.
Hiring a personal trainer with a track record of training your age group is a good option. They will be able to write you a specific program, as well as perfect your form. Otherwise, try to complete 3 sets of 10 reps for 5 exercises.
Supporting your strength training with power is another smart move for men over 50. After all, extremely rare you will need to lift something with maximum effort, regardless of age. You’re much more likely going to call upon your power generating capabilities. For example, when you need to take a step up, or swing a bag into the trunk of your car.
One easy way to work on your power is to drive through your legs when walking up a flight of stairs. For your arms, you could practice your upper body moves a little quicker, with lighter weights and great form. If your form begins to slip, reduce the intensity so you can stay safe.
Muscle loss after 50 is an unfortunate reality many men must face. However, the effects can be somewhat halted and slowed down by following these three tips. Taking action for your physique doesn’t need to be complicated. Eating enough protein, looking after your testosterone, and lifting weights are all a great place to start. Implement them into your routine to shield your lean mass today.