Muscle Loss With Aging

With aging, it takes more effort and time to walk up stairs, mow the lawn, fix a faucet or wash the dishes. Tasks that you did without effort when you were younger can become major ordeals that leave you exhausted when you are older. Dr. Jerome Fleg, a cardiologist at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, tested 800 men and women over several years and found that their ability to sustain exercise decreased rapidly as they aged. The older they became the faster they lost what researchers call aerobic capacity (Circulation, July 26, 2005).

Aerobic capacity is a measure of your ability to use oxygen to do work. If your body can process more oxygen than that of another person, usually you will be able to run faster, walk or work longer, and have more energy than that person. The men and women lost three to six percent per decade in their 20’s and 30’s , and 20 percent per decade in their 70’s. The men lost aerobic capacity faster than the women. The men lost 8.3 percent of aerobic capacity in their 40’s and 23 percent per decade in their 70’s.

This study was done with people who were healthy enough for vigorous exercise on a treadmill that measured their exercise capacity. People who have had heart attacks, strokes, diabetes or other wasting diseases would lose aerobic capacity much faster than healthy people. The results showed that a regular exercise program can increase exercise capacity by up to 25 percent, which would give the older participants the same exercise capacity as you would expect in people who are twenty years younger.

The loss of aerobic capacity with aging explains why older people cannot compete effectively against younger ones in endurance events. The good news is that a regular exercise program can increase your maximum heart rate. By exercising regularly and vigorously, your will develop stronger skeletal muscles. When you contract your leg muscles, they squeeze against the veins in your legs and pump blood toward your heart. When your leg muscles relax, the veins dilate and fill with blood. This alternate contacting and relaxing pumps extra blood toward your heart. The extra blood returned to the heart stretches and strengthens the heart muscle, causing it to beat faster and with more force. So strengthening your leg muscles increases your maximum heart rate, even as you age.

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Getting Enough BCAAs In Your Diet Is Crucial To Maintaining Healthy Muscle As You Age

The natural process of losing muscle as you age is called sarcopenia and it can begin in your 30s, and this process accelerates with time if you don’t do anything to slow its progress. The good news is there are two things within your power you can do to slow and even reverse muscle loss with age, They are resistance training two to three times each week, and getting an adequate amount of Branched Chained Amino Acids (BCAAs ) in your diet each day. These two activities combined have been shown to slow the effects of sarcopenia in people well into their 90s.

BCAAs are the three essential amino acids, leucine, isoleucine, and valine that come from the protein that you eat, such as chicken, fish, and dairy products, or a protein supplement.. They are called essential because your body cannot make them out other amino acids, and therefore they must come from the food you eat, or a protein supplement.

BCAAs are most well known for triggering protein synthesis,(the building, and repair of muscle cells). Combining BCAAs with weight lifting results in maximal protein synthesis because both these activities trigger something called the mTORC1 signaling pathway that is essential for muscle building. The proper amount of BCAAs can increase protein synthesis by as much as 145 percent when you consume it right after a session of resistance training.

As you get older, getting the proper amount of BCAAs is paramount for building, and maintaining muscle. Creating a muscle building environment in the body is important, but becomes harder to do as you age. Activation of protein synthesis is impaired, and starts to decline after the age of 35. This decreased muscle building effect along with the tendency to eat less dietary protein with aging are the primary contributors to muscle loss and sarcopenia.

You need at least 21 grams of good quality protein in a meal in order for your body to have an adequate amount of BCAAs for the amino acid Leucine to turn on the signal for protein synthesis to take place. This signaling process to begin muscle building, and repair can also take place if you have a BCAA supplement that is 40 percent Leucine.


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