To maintain good health, we all need a strategy. The following three elements are important for muscle health and need to become a habitual part of our daily routine:
- Diet and appropriate protein intake.
- Resistance exercise
- Dietary supplements to enhance muscle mass and muscle protein synthesis.
Eating enough protein. Protein is made up of amino acids. They are the building blocks. By eating adequate protein we ingest the amino acid building blocks that are necessary to synthesize muscle tissue. There are many recommendations online about how much protein you need to meet your daily requirements. Those requirements increase as we age. A reasonable guide for an average-sized person is to get 20-30 grams of protein per meal. That assumes you are eating three meals. For those who do not like to eat a lot, recent literature suggests that 10 grams of whey protein + 5 grams of Leucine will have the same effect as 26 grams of whey protein with respect to muscle protein synthesis. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4496741/)
Resistance exercise is critical. Muscles will respond to load or force regardless of your age. An 80-year-old will grow larger muscles if they perform resistance exercise. To initiate a resistance exercise program, you need some guidance. Which muscles should you exercise? That depends on what you are prioritizing. For longevity and fall risk, you want to be exercising your legs, thighs, calf, and glutes. Those are our largest muscles and will have the most significant impact on our metabolism. Recent research has shown that one bout of resistance exercise leads to muscle growth in 90-year-olds. (https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130927092350.htm).
We have 10s of thousands of genes in our DNA. Not all of them are turned on. Exercise leads to some of those genes being turned on (an epigenetic change), and those genes might decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance, premature aging.
Creatine supplementation. There is a fair amount of scientific literature to support the use of creatine to build muscle mass. Creatine works by getting into the muscle cell and bringing water with it. So you are enlarging the size of each muscle cell. A larger muscle cell can generate more force. A more massive muscle is physically capable of helping you avoid injuries following a fall. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4496741/).