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Age Is Just A Number | Muscle & Body Magazine

mb-oct13.jpgYoung adults have it made. When you’re young, you feel invincible. You can physically push yourself to extremes and recover quickly, your youthful body keeping you ready to go at a moment’s notice.

That vitality is, in part, due to skeletal muscle mass. When we’re young, skeletal muscle mass—voluntarily controlled muscle (e.g., biceps)—is prominent, and research shows that “healthy young individuals who are not involved in any progressive exercise do not lose skeletal muscle mass so long that sufficient calories are consumed for maintenance.” In other words, you don’t have to train to maintain muscle mass.

Even more interesting for young adults is the fact that test results suggest that lesser amounts of essential amino acids (EAAs) may only be needed post-physical activity (e.g., resistance training). I’m aware that for many of you, reducing protein intake postworkout seems counterproductive, even frightening, as ingesting more protein often suggests a greater response to protein synthesis. But researchers have determined through a skeletal-muscle study that “stimulation of muscle protein synthesis was maximal after ingesting 10 g of essential amino acids in young subjects.” How many times have you gone for the 50-g protein shake? You might consider reducing that number, as that amount of protein may be overdoing it, considering how much can be used by the body at one time.

Don’t Stop Moving

Age certainly plays a factor in how the body responds to both protein consumption and subsequent mass building, however. There is a decline in skeletal muscle mass because of a negative protein balance. Along with declining skeletal muscle mass, an individual can expect a loss in strength and size, and tasks such as lifting a box of books become a risky endeavor.

This decline in muscle and strength is more likely induced in individuals who do not engage in physical activity in their daily lives. Physical activity is a necessity in maintaining muscle mass, because along with adequate protein consumption—which we know is responsible for building and maintaining muscle mass—this dual process can preserve skeletal muscle tissue. Researchers have observed: “physical activity performed before food intake can improve postprandial (after consumption) muscle protein synthesis rates, irrespective of age.”

Further, it was shown that physical activity performed before the ingestion of a single meal-like amount (20 g) of protein results in a greater amount of the dietary-derived amino acids being used for muscle protein accretion.

This fact is echoed by laboratory studies documented in the journal Exercise and Sports Sciences Reviews, which indicate that physical activity followed by adequate protein consumption is the key to preserving skeletal muscle mass in older individuals. In fact, these researchers speculate that “habitual physical activity or structured exercise regimens will restore aging muscle to a more youthful state and enhance postprandial muscle protein synthesis rates.” This is great news for anyone beginning to experience the negative physical symptoms of aging.

More Birthdays, More Protein Required

Older individuals require more protein than younger people in order to stimulate muscle protein synthesis. If an older individual lacks the appropriate EAAs post-performance, they are increasing their anabolic resistance rate and tearing down muscle tissue, without replenishing its protein sources.

It was found that in the elderly, ingestion of smaller amounts of protein—in this case, less than 20 g—may have reduced sensitivity to muscle protein synthesis, meaning the process is less likely to initiate in a timely manner, or at all. Therefore, the nutrition bar that provides only 8 g of protein won’t do an aging body much good. In order to induce protein synthesis, an older individual may require roughly 35 g of whey protein postworkout, because more of the amino acids are released into the circulation and subsequently used to the individual’s advantage.

To those aging men and women who question their ability to perform strenuously, research shows that only minimal physical activity may be required in order to induce protein synthesis. Consider increasing daily habitual activity to keep your musculature engaged. For example, mowing the lawn, gardening or walking the dog may be physical enough. This, of course, is not to lead anyone to believe they can merely wander to the fridge between watching games and expect results. The same research also shows that little to no physical activity “forms the basis for the observed anabolic resistance in the older population.”

So, do you want to age gracefully? Do you want to maintain some sort of muscular physique as you push beyond 40, 50, even 60? Lifestyle interventions such as healthy dietary consistency, physical activity and motivation are essential. I’m 62 years old, but I feel as young as my sons, both in their 20s. I owe it all to consistency, a term I refer to often. My diet is clean, and my physical activity levels rival those of a college athlete, if not surpass them, as I’ve often outrun many a college football player.

Keep up with yourself. You’re a machine, and machines need fine-tuning. Oil up and realize that age is just a number.

Link:  Age Is Just A Number | Muscle & Body Magazine.