I was reading an article recently that was discussing how we look after the muscles in our body, and when is it okay to do this, in relation to how old we are?
Well, I personally think being able to look after your muscle growth and repair is something we can do every day, NO MATTER OUR AGE!!!
The cells in our body are continually dying off and renewing, some do it quicker than others, and some do it slower. Example, the typical life of a red blood cell is 90 days, while the typical life of a bone cell may be up to 7 years. So, some are slower to die off and regenerate and others are much quicker. We need to be on top of this every day, to ensure the nutrients are flowing to our cells on a regular basis to ensure they can rejuvenate in the best possible manner, and in the healthiest way they know.
Now, all the red blood cells don’t die on one day, they do it when their individual time is ‘up’, so this is a process that is occurring every day in our bodies. We need to ensure that our body has the nutrients available to it to ensure an efficient clean up and rejuvenation process!
Typically, we consider the use of whey protein to aid in the ‘body building’ processes of youth. It is those ‘younger’ people that are into the field of building up their muscles and keeping their body fit and trim.
But who says it is just for the youth of our society? Doesn’t your body also deserve to benefit from being kept fit and trim?
The aging dieter also benefits from the use of whey protein in their diet as a complement to their healthy diet.
Whey protein helps burn age-related fat
This is what I always like to hear, how to burn age-related fat – I know that when I reached my mid-forties, the age-related fat was growing rapidly!! Apparently, body fat accumulates as people age. That is an easy thing to see as we look around us today in our obesity challenged society.
Interestingly, the average person will gain 1 pound of fat every year after the age of 30. Not only is this extra fat unattractive and uncomfortable, its accumulation also poses significant risks to health. Visceral fat, or the fat that surrounds your internal organs, is particularly hazardous and has been linked to insulin resistance, abnormal blood lipids, and cardiovascular disease.
So aging healthfully requires burning excess fat and maintaining a desirable body weight. Eating a diet high in quality whey protein can assist in weight loss and subsequent maintenance by maximizing satiety, boosting fat burning, and increasing metabolism. Whey protein promotes fullness by stimulating gut and appetite hormones to tell the brain that it is satisfied (1). In addition, whey protein can actually rev up metabolism, helping the body burn fat. Whey protein is superior to other protein sources for promoting fat loss and has been shown to increase the body’s fat burning rate more than soy or casein in the hours following a meal (2).
Whey protein helps prevent age-related muscle loss
In addition to accumulating fat with age, people also lose muscle. So the fat increases, and the muscle decreases. A worrisome thought, especially if you’re hoping to avoid this trend!
Muscle becomes progressively more difficult to build and preserve with age. In fact, the average person will lose 1/2 a pound of muscle every year after the age of 30. So, we are gaining 1 pound of visceral fat, and losing 1/2 a pound of muscle, an overall weight gain of 1/2 a pound a year. Where will you be by the time you are 60?
Luckily, the benefits of whey protein are two-sided, it gives both a greater ability to burn fat while building muscle and preventing breakdown. When it comes to building muscle, whey protein is superior to other protein sources. This is partly due to the type of amino acids making up the protein, which act as the key signal in regulating muscle growth (3).
Muscle is made of protein and is the only form of protein storage in the body. When sufficient protein is not supplied to the body through meals, muscle will begin to breakdown to accommodate the body’s needs. By eating whey protein in regular intervals throughout the day, muscle breakdown can be minimized and muscle mass can be maximized. Maximizing and preserving muscle mass is important for maintaining a healthy metabolism, supporting bone health (4) and mobility, as well as preventing chronic illness. Low muscle mass has been related to conditions such as poor blood sugar control and diabetes (4, 5). The less muscle a person has, the greater their health risks. Something we are attempting to avoid as we age.
Protein needs are higher in older people
As we get older, we need more protein than younger adults to support our health, functionality, and recovery from illness (8). Older people are less sensitive to protein as the signal for muscle building and more is needed to stimulate muscle growth and to prevent muscle loss (9). Some studies suggest that needs may be as high as 40 grams per meal.
The current field of thought for a sedentary person is approximately 1g of protein for every kg of body weight, e.g., a 70kg sedentary person, requires approximately 70 g of protein per day.
Chronic inflammatory conditions and diseases that commonly occur with aging can also increase protein needs (8). It is critical that the right amount of high quality protein is eaten to offset some of the harmful consequences of chronic conditions and to compensate for a diminished anabolic response.
To sum up, no matter our age, the use of bioavailable protein to build our muscles and to enhance fat burning is vital.
1. Souza GT et al. Dietary whey protein lessens several risk factors for metabolic diseases: a review. Lipids Health Dis. 2012 Jun 7;11(1):67. [Epub ahead of print]
2. Acheson KJ et al. Protein choices targeting thermogenesis and metabolism. Am J Clin Nutr. 2011 Mar;93(3):525-34. Epub 2011 Jan 12.
3. Phillips SM et al. The role of milk- and soy-based protein in support of muscle protein synthesis and muscle protein accretion in young and elderly persons. J Am Coll Nutr. 2009 Aug;28(4):343-54.
4. Wolfe R. The underappreciated role of muscle in health and disease. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Sep;84(3):475-82.
5. Srikanthan P, Karlamangla AS. Relative muscle mass is inversely associated with insulin resistance and prediabetes. Findings from the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2011 Sep;96(9):2898-903. Epub 2011 Jul 21.
6. Bauer J, et al. Evidence-based recommendations for optimal dietary protein intake in older people: a position paper from the PROT-AGE Study Group. J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2013 Aug;14(8):542-59. doi: 10.1016/j.jamda.2013.05.021. Epub 2013 Jul 16.
7. Hulmi JJ et al. Effect of protein/essential amino acids and resistance training on skeletal muscle hypertrophy: A case for whey protein. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2010 Jun 17;7:51.