Expert explains why enjoying exercise is important

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As we grow older, we start to lose our muscles and it becomes after to build them up. The process is called sarcopenia, and is a natural part of ageing. It is due to decreasing levels of testosterone and estrogen — both hormones that help build muscle in men and women.

Other factors also include changes in nerve and blood cells and how the body converts proteins into muscle tissue.

After the age of 30, people begin to lose as much as three to eight percent per decade, and ost men will lose about 30 percent of their muscle mass during their lifetimes.

But is there a way to stop it?

Sarah Klemm from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics said that muscle loss doesn’t have to be inevitable.

“For adult men and women, regular resistance training exercises are key to building and keeping muscle,” she said.

“Men and women should participate in muscle strengthening activities that work the major muscle groups at least two times each week.”

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Include full-body workouts that focus on compound exercises – moves that work multiple muscles at a time.

Focus workouts around the legs, hips, back, chest, abdomen, shoulders and arms – for example, muscle strengthening activities include lifting weights, using resistance bands and doing push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups and some types of yoga.

She also noted that alongside training, strength is supported by a healthy and nutritious diet.

“An important way to support strength building is with good nutrition,” Klemm stated.

“Foods that provide protein, carbohydrates and fat play a major role, as does getting enough calories throughout the day.”

But there are specific amounts of each macronutrient you should consume within a day.

If anything other than the guideline amount is consumed, a person could be either overdoing it or depriving themselves of previous nutrients to maintain their muscles.

1. Protein

Klemm pointed out when it comes to building muscle, the saying “the more protein the better” is a common myth that should be ignored.

“Protein should make up 10 to 35 percent of total calories for adults,” she explained.

“While you’re working to build muscle with physical activity, your needs may be on the higher end of this range.

“Keeping muscle mass, on the other hand, requires less protein than building new muscle.”

She advised to aim for three servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy and three ounce-equivalents of protein foods (such as fish, beans, poultry or lean meat) each day, to provide quality sources of protein to help reach that goal.

2. Fat

“Your body relies on fat to supply energy to muscles during some types of activity,” Klemm said.

“How much fat a person needs can vary. As a general guideline, fat should make up 20 to 35 percent of your total calories.”

The nutritionist noted that for overall health and muscle strength, a person should focus on sources of heart-healthy fats.

These include foods such as vegetable oils, olive oil and canola oil and avocados.

“Nuts and fatty fish such as salmon, herring, sardines and trout, which are all good sources of protein, also provide healthier types of fat,” she added.

“Eating a variety of healthy foods each day can help you meet your nutrient needs.”

3. Carbs

Carbohydrates are important when it comes to fuelling your muscles because when they are converted to glycogen, a form of energy stored in muscles, it helps to power your workouts.

“Men and women need about half of their calories from carbohydrates per day,” Klemm said.

“Try focusing on good quality carbohydrates that provide dietary fibre, such as whole-grain breads and cereals.

“Many dairy products, including milk and yogurt, also provide carbohydrates. Choose low-fat or fat-free dairy foods and beverages in order to limit sources of saturated fat.

“Fruits and vegetables also are good options. When timing your meals and snacks, you may wish to avoid foods high in dietary fibre immediately before or during physical activity.”

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