Commonly associated with advancing age, sarcopenia (reduced muscle mass) contributes to a decline in skeletal muscle strength, often resulting in diminished functional capacity, a limited ability to perform daily activities and possible loss of independence. With a bit of hard work, perseverance and patience, senior adults can partially reverse age-related losses in muscle strength, which can help combat weakness and frailty and help to maintain self-reliance. Since 1988, numerous published scientific studies have shown that progressive resistance exercises can result in significant improvements in skeletal muscle function in older persons, as well as improvements in functional capacity such as walking speed and stair-climbing power.
Resistance exercises performed two to three times weekly with a rest day in between allows for muscle growth and recovery. Rest and recovery days help to avoid injury and allow the body to heal the tears in muscle fiber, a vital part of the body’s natural muscle building response. While strength training can vary in frequency, intensity and duration, current research shows that performing resistance exercises builds muscle mass and strength, improves balance, sleep and mood, and helps maintain healthy weight, bone density and vitality in the senior years. Strength workouts should include the major muscles of the body, including the chest, back, shoulders, biceps, triceps, legs and core.
Sufficient protein intake is necessary to build, maintain and repair muscle, as well as prevent muscle wasting. While exercise can have a profound effect on muscle growth, there must be a positive muscle protein balance, as muscle growth can only occur if muscle protein synthesis exceeds breakdown. Resistance exercise improves muscle protein balance, but in the absence of sufficient protein intake, the balance remains negative. Essential amino acids, found in animal and plant proteins, are key nutrients for muscle health and maintenance. As amino acid availability is an important regulator of muscle protein metabolism, consuming protein before and after a workout may lead to a better outcome for muscle growth and development, as well as improved metabolic health.
Data analysis shows that many older adults, particularly women, do not get enough dietary protein. Seniors who participate in weight training to become physically stronger should consider increasing, but not overdoing, their daily protein intake. While professionals disagree on the optimal amount of protein needed to maintain muscle with aging, for the purpose of maximizing muscular strength and mass with resistance training, researchers concur that most people require additional protein. A review of databases of published research regarding weight training and protein studies found that active seniors were better able to rebuild and maintain muscle by adequately addressing increased protein requirements.
This relates to a 25 to 50 percent increase over the recommended daily amount (RDA) of 46 grams of protein for sedentary women and 56 grams for sedentary men. The general recommendation is to spread protein consumption evenly throughout the day, taking in 25 to 30 grams of protein per meal and 12 to 15 grams per snack. Research published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that studied the use of protein supplementation found that whey protein was the most effective type of protein for seniors struggling to build muscle due to inactivity or illness. Whey protein is considered a high-quality or complete protein meaning that it contains all the essential amino acids necessary for post-workout recovery. Supplementing with amino acids, particularly on recovery days, has been shown to diminish muscle damage, as well as delayed onset muscle soreness, pain or stiffness associated with resistance training.
It should be noted that those with kidney disease should not increase their protein intake without consulting their healthcare practitioner.
Professional Supplement Center offers these and other high quality protein supplements in support of healthy nutrition:
Absolute Protein™ Vanilla by NuMedica®: This quick soluble, high quality protein powder provides a perfect balance of concentrated, fast absorbing whey proteins with hydrolyzed protein peptides, and slow absorbing whey concentrates and isolates for an effective supply of muscle building nutrients. This supplement provides vitamins, minerals, branched-chain amino acids and L-glutamine for a lean and optimal way to supplement with high quality protein. Provides 17 grams of protein per serving. Naturally flavored. Free of wheat, corn, yeast, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts and artificial colors and preservatives. Chocolate flavor also available.
Ultra Protein Plus Natural Vanilla Bean Flavor by Douglas Laboratories®: This fortified powdered formula provides a full complement of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and 16 grams of plant- based protein per serving in support of metabolic and physiologic functions. Natural vanilla bean flavor. Gluten and dairy free, Non-GMO formulation. Natural Chocolate formula also available.
D-Ribose by Designs for Health®: This simple sugar molecule is an essential component of cellular energy metabolism. Produced naturally by the body, D-ribose is necessary for the heart, muscles and other tissues to make ATP, the primary source of cellular energy used to maintain normal health and function, particularly after strenuous activity or exercise. D-ribose may improve athletic performance and the ability to exercise by boosting muscle energy, without raising blood glucose levels. Gluten free. Non-GMO. No additional ingredients.
Protein Complete by Professional Complementary Health Formulas: This low-fat, cholesterol-free formula provides high quality soy and pea proteins fortified with a balanced supply of essential vitamins, minerals, synergistic herbs, enzymes and probiotics to aid in general digestion, promote intestinal health, improve nutrient utilization and increase the intake of protein and other nutrients.
Key Found to Muscle Loss After Age 65. https://www.livescience.com/5704-key-muscle-loss-age-65.html
Seniors Can Still Bulk Up On Muscle by Pressing Iron. https://www.npr.org/2011/02/21/133776800/seniors-can-still-bulk-up-on-muscle-by-pressing-iron
The benefits of strength training for older adults. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14552938
Ideal protein to help seniors rebuild lost muscle. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/10/181009135938.htm
Strength Training Benefits and Guidelines for Seniors. https://www.verywellfit.com/strength-training-benefits-and-guidelines-for-seniors-1230954
The benefits of strength training for older adults. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0749379703001776
The benefits of strength training in the elderly. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/223648086_The_benefits_of_strength_training_in_the_elderly