As we get older, muscle is harder to build an maintain. Most people start noticing a decline in lean muscle mass at age 30.
This is because of lower testosterone levels in men as well as lower estrogen levels in women. Both of these hormones are essential in building muscle. There are a host of other factors like the body not being able to convert amino acids to muscle tissue as efficiently.
For aging adults, regular exercise is key to maintaining and developing muscle. It’s recommended that adults exercise at least 2 times a week. For instance resistance training with bands, or compound movements that work several muscle groups.
In order to repair the muscle, it’s crucial to eat a diet that’s nutritious. You want to ensure that you consume protein, carbohydrates, and fats.
Three Essential Macro-Nutrients for Muscle Growth
When it comes to building muscle you might think that the more protein the better? This isn’t necessarily true. Protein should make up roughly 20-35% of your total calories. Research has shown that eating more than this could actually be harmful.
Maintaining muscle mass requires far less protein than building muscle. The average person needs just 0.37 g/lb of bodyweight which is 56 g of protein for an 150 lb adult. The protein should come from lean meat like poultry or fish.
Other protein-rich foods to eat: Lean meats such as chicken breast and turkey breast. Lean fish. Egg whites, Greek Yogurt, Whey Protein.
For some reason people like to condemn carbohydrates and blame the macro-nutrient for their weight troubles. Carbs are used as fuel for your muscles. This is because carbohydrates are partially converted into glycogen which is then stored in the muscle.
Active adults who exercise at least twice a week need to have at least half their calories from carbs. This doesn’t mean you should be consuming foods like pizza and bagels. Just like protein, you want high quality carb sources like whole-grains and soluble fiber.
You can also eat fruits, vegetables, yogurt, and low-fat milk for extra carbohydrate sources.
Contrary to the fat-free trend that’s rampant in the health food industry, fat is required for a nutritious diet. Fat should make up 20-35% of your daily calories. This fat is used to supply energy to the muscles during your training and exercise regime.
However, there are some fats to avoid. You want to focus on heart-healthy fats like extra-virgin olive oil, almonds, walnuts, avocados as well as protein sources like salmon, trout, and halibut. Compared to other types of fat, dietary fat provides the body the energy it needs and does it so well that blood sugar spikes are unlikely to happen. This helps support brain development and improves cognitive function. It also helps support your nervous system, endocrine system, and cardiovascular system.
Fat is best kept in moderation because it contains almost twice the calories as carbs and protein. For instance, 1 tbsp of olive oil is 120 calories and 1 oz of walnuts is 185 calories. It’s important to watch fat intake for this reason alone.