Are you over 40 and losing muscle mass? Perhaps you’ve increased your resistance training sessions but are still experiencing declines in strength and function? If you’re part of the 40-and-over crowd, then preserving lean body mass should be a priority. Let’s find out what you can do about muscle loss after 40. The good news is that, with a few lifestyle and dietary adjustments, you can recoup the muscle you’ve lost (and then some) at any age. It’s never too late to optimize wellness and build and maintain muscle!
Why Am I Losing Muscle?
It’s a condition called sarcopenia, or age-related muscle loss. After the age of 30, your body gradually loses muscle mass at a rate of 3-5% per decade, and this rate of decline speeds up after age 60. In your forties, you start to really see and feel it.
Vanity aside, losing muscle mass has a grave effect on strength, mobility, and bone density, and puts you at risk of falls and fractures, as well as osteoporosis. According to the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research, individuals with sarcopenia are 2.3 times more likely to suffer from a low-trauma fracture, such as a broken leg, collarbone, hip, arm, or wrist, due to a fall and increased frailty.
It sounds grim, but there are simple and safe solutions to the aging process, so hang tight!
Causes of Sarcopenia
Let’s talk about the obvious cause of muscle loss after 40 first. We can slow down with age. Perhaps we get injured, or busy, or just don’t have the stamina to keep up with the type of workouts we did in our twenties and thirties. If we don’t strengthen our muscles as much, then we inevitably lose muscle mass.
Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as increasing your physical activity levels, although engaging in progressive resistance training (PRT) is a must. We’ll be covering that in a bit.
You see, with age comes hormonal changes, including a dip in muscle-building hormones, like growth hormone, testosterone, and insulin-like growth factor. The body is less able to turn the protein we eat into energy to rebuild muscle tissue, and often we don’t eat enough protein to sustain our muscles. Coupled with the fact that muscles become less responsive to anabolic (muscle-building) stimuli with age, muscle loss after 40 becomes even more difficult to manage.
Muscle Loss After 40: Solutions
To get maximum benefit from resistance training after 40, it’s important to supplement with nutritional therapeutics that can stimulate muscle growth in skeletal muscle. Some people, particularly weight lifters and athletes, turn to growth hormone and testosterone supplements for anti-aging gains. Both of these injectables, even when administered by a doctor, come with adverse effects, including:
- Nerve, muscle, and joint pain
- Fluid retention
- Elevated cholesterol levels
- Numbness and tingling
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Low blood sugar
- Liver damage
- Increased risk of heart disease and diabetes
- Mood changes
- Growth of cancerous tumors
- Acromegaly (unusual growth of hands, feet, and facial features)
- Dependency and withdrawal
- Increased risk of developing sleep apnea
- Acne and other skin irritations
- Enlarged breasts
- Decreased sperm production
- Testicle shrinkage
- Elevated risk of deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism
There’s a much more convenient, and side-effect-free way, to increase muscle mass after 40. Taking an amino acid supplement in powder form.
Amino acids stimulate the release of growth hormone and can increase testosterone levels, so you get the benefits of growth hormone replacement therapy without any concerning side effects.
As previously mentioned, sarcopenia occurs when muscles break down faster than they can rebuild. Amino acids stimulate muscle protein synthesis and suppress muscle protein breakdown. An amino acid formula with a high proportion of the essential amino acid leucine can also wake up aging muscle so it becomes more alert to muscle-building signals, especially when taken after resistance exercise (1,2).
Now, you may be wondering: why not just get your protein from dietary sources?
The anabolic response of muscle to protein consumption depends on how quickly plasma essential amino acid levels reach peak values. Results show that supplementing with free-form essential amino acids is a more efficient way to stimulate muscle protein synthesis and anabolism than ingesting essential amino acids as part of dietary protein or a protein powder such as whey.
The Best Nutritional Intervention for Muscle Loss After 40
There is a wealth of research that points to the ability of amino acids to prevent and reverse loss of muscle mass after 40 and improve overall muscle health and quality of life. But this benefit depends on the type and concentration of amino acids used, and most formulas on the market don’t make the cut. That’s why Amino Co scientists formulated and patented the precise blend of amino acids used in the research.
This Active Aging blend is called Life, and it’s designed to help prevent the natural decline of muscle and heart function that begins at around age 40. In clinical trials, Life has been proven to enhance physical function and muscle strength, improve blood lipid profiles, and support cardiovascular health in older adults.
It’s more than 3 times more powerful at stimulating muscle growth and repair than any protein source, including growth hormone and testosterone. And it improves physical function, strength, and mobility in people with normal age-related decline.
It’s also easy to take. Mix a scoop into 8 ounces of water, or your morning coffee or smoothie. Consistency is key. Maintain a healthy body for the long haul by making amino acids part of your daily routine.
Progressive Resistance Training
Building muscle with the aid of amino acids goes even further when combined with strength training, whether it's using your own body weight, resistance bands, or dumbbells. A recent meta-analysis of 49 studies of older people ages 50 to 83 showed that a PRT weight-training program induced a 2.4-pound increase in lean body mass.
PRT builds muscle strength and mass with a gradual increase in weight, reps, and sets as your performance improves.
A PRT training program looks something like this:
- 8 to 10 exercises that work the major muscle groups
- 12 to 15 reps, performed at an effort of about 5 to 7 out of 10
- 2 to 3 workouts a week
As your strength improves you can add more sets, or increase the weight and decrease the number of repetitions, striving to work at a maximum of 10 difficulty.
To learn more about PRT and how to effectively build muscle, refer to this article. If you are new to working out, then seek the advice of a physical therapist or personal trainer to help you develop a training program.