Did you know that lean muscle mass declines 3-8% per decade after age 30?(1) The consistent loss of muscle is called sarcopenia, and while it’s usually associated with aging, it may also be caused by a lack of muscle use from injury or illness.(2)
The benefits of healthy muscle mass go beyond strength and enhanced athletic performance, playing a critical role in the quality of our daily lives.(3)
Whether you’re looking to speed up recovery or want to know how to care for your body as you age, here are three simple ways to maintain muscle mass and prevent muscle loss.
Eat enough high-quality protein1
Every day you hear about the importance of protein in your diet. But do you actually know how much protein you should be eating? Ascent’s handy protein calculator evaluates your weight, level of training, and goals to determine the right amount of protein for your lifestyle. However, you may want to check in with your doctor to confirm your ideal amount of protein. .
The saying “quality over quantity” certainly rings true regarding protein. Ascent bases its calculations on consuming high-quality protein. So, it’s important to consider the source of protein as you plan your meals.
What does quality protein mean, exactly? Protein quality is determined by essential amino acid content and digestibility, both of which impact shifts in Muscle Protein Synthesis (MPS) and skeletal muscle mass.4 An example of an easy-to-find quality protein is whey protein isolate because it is fast-digesting and contains all nine essential amino acids. Whey protein also has notable levels of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), including one in particular that becomes a key player in muscle health.(2)
Look for leucine-rich protein
Athletes know all about the benefits of leucine, one of the three branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) that encourage MPS, a process critical to muscle recovery after intense exercise. (5)
Even though leucine is helpful to athletes, you don’t have to be a professional to reap the benefits. New and exciting research suggests that moderate amounts of high-quality protein may also reduce muscle loss.2 It only takes a small amount of leucine, roughly 3 g per meal, to trigger MPS. For optimum results, sufficient quantities of the other essential amino acids should also be present in the protein structure, just like the quality of whey protein isolate we discussed earlier.(2)
Incorporate resistance training and exercise
Lack of activity, whether from old age, illness, or just low motivation, plays a big part in muscle loss. That’s why one of the top preventive treatments for sarcopenia is exercise. Researchers have determined that resistance training is a particularly effective way to maintain muscle mass, especially when paired with leucine-rich whey protein.(6)
Resistance training, or strength training, is a form of physical activity where your muscles work against a weight or force. Start with bodyweight exercises, light free weights, or resistance bands if you're just getting back out there.
Feeling inspired and ready to care for the long-term health of your muscles? Ascent’s Whey Protein delivers 25 grams of clean protein with 2.6 grams of naturally occurring leucine. For even more extra help, here are five easy ways to add protein to your diet.
- (“Dietary Protein Recommendations And the Prevention of Sarcopenia | Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care”, 2009)
- (“Practical Applications of Whey Protein in Supporting Skeletal Muscle Maintenance, Recovery, and Reconditioning | Journal of Animal Science”, 2021)
- (“Supplemental Protein in Support of Muscle Mass and Health: Advantage Whey | Journal of Food Science”, 2015)
- (“The Impact of Protein Quality on the Promotion of Resistance Exercise-Induced Changes in Muscle Mass | Nutrition & Metabolism”, 2016)
- (“Health Benefits of Whey Protein: A Review | Journal of Food Science and Engineering”, 2012)
- (“Muscle-Related Effect of Whey Protein and Vitamin D3 Supplementation Provided Before or After Bedtime in Males Undergoing Resistance Training | Nutrients”, 2022)