Ageing for Rebels
Posted on 4th February 2022 at 16:29
"If I'd know I would have lived this long I would have taken better care of myself"
Oh to be young, frolicking lackadaisical without a care in the world and with your tight skin, buttery joints and abundance of energy and naïve perceptions of how the World works.
Getting older is the best thing that can happen to us health wise, being another year older means we managed to avoid dying for a bit longer, which ought to be cause for celebration, were it not for our knowledge of what we must face in the years ahead.
Skin wrinkles, hair goes grey, ears and nose continue to grow, eyesight and hearing suffers, and joints start to get hurty. This, combined with years of experiencing the disillusion of any previous optimism leads to a loss of joy and a grumpy regret at not having enjoyed youth as much as you should have.
Whilst all the above might be true, vitality and good health can belong to any elderly person willing to work for it, the principles are (mostly) the same as they are for younger people.
In this article I’m going to address the number one factor that can make a difference in every person aged thirty-five and above.
Many professional athletes retire around their mid-thirties, why is this? Are they just fed up with making lots of money? Does the sport that once ignited so much passion now bore them, as they finally realize that football is a dull use of ninety minutes? The issue is most likely due to the physical changes already starting to take place at this point.
Although small at first, we begin to lose a little muscle, and with that muscle we lose strength, and with both things we lose joint stability and eventually bone density, this takes place over a few decades and rapidly increases as time wears on, when we combine all these factors together, we have an increased risk of injury, lower quality of life and everything beings to suck.
But whilst we can’t stop Sarcopenia from happening, we can reduce its impact, in fact with the right approach we can grow older and be fitter and healthier than many people in their twenties.
Here is how…
Nutrition approach to Sarcopenia
Protein, big amounts, especially leucine.
Protein is made of lots of little bricks we call amino acids, when we combine those bricks in various orders we get Muscles, if you don’t have enough protein in your diet there simply won’t be enough bricks to build those muscular walls.
Not only this, but as we become older, our ability to digest protein is inhibited, so we need larger amounts. A twenty-year-old can take their shiny rippling body to the gym and throw some weights around and afterwards take twenty-five grams of protein to help with recovery and growth. A person in their fifties however may need thirty to forty grams to see the same benefit.
So, if we decide for example that 1.3g of protein per kg is enough for a person to see the benefits of an active lifestyle, a 70 kilogram twenty-year-old will be fine with 91g spit into four lots of 23g, were as a 70kg seventy-year-old would experience more benefit from having three meals of thirty grams of protein.
Below are some examples of which foods containing protein
An average chicken breast contains about 25g
Three eggs contain about 21g
A pint of whole milk contains about 18g
A tin of Tuna contains about 25g
200g of cottage cheese contains about 24g
For best results use a whey protein powder such as this, each scoop contains about 20g of protein, I suggest two scoops.
One of those protein bricks I mentioned earlier is particularly powerful little muscle building amino acid called leucine, eating foods high in leucine will help with muscle creation and prevent breakdown.
High leucine foods
Parmesan 3.5g leucine per 100g
Soy beans 3.2g leucine per 100g
Beef sirloin steak 3.2g leucine per 100g
Chicken breast 2.7g leucine per 100g
Pork sirloin 2.6g leucine per 100g
Pumpkin seeds 2.4g leucine per 100g
Tuna steak 2.3g leucine per 100g
Egg whites 670mg leucine per two large eggs
peanuts 1.8g leucine per 100g
White beans cooked 776mg leucine per 100g
Whey protein 2.5g leucine per 100g
Skimmed milk 2.7g leucine per 874ml
Greek Yoghurt 2.5g per 250g
Know what happens when your active? Inflammation.
Know what happens as you get older? More inflammation.
The older you are the more important it is to be active to prevent muscle breakdown but doing so means your body will have to deal with even more inflammation, aside from medications a great way to tackle this is to take fish oils.
Omega 3 helps to reduce inflammation and improve muscle protein synthesis; it’s a cheap supplement and you only need five to twelve grams a day to see a difference.
Dem bones, dem bones need….
Calcium and especially vitamin D. We barely get enough vitamin D from food, and the other method we obtain it, sunlight, is in low supply during the winter months, and even in summer we barely get much sunshine, especially if we spend a lot of time in doors.
Your body relies on three main types of fuel, most of the time when your sat around or doing some light activity, your body will break down fat reserves.
Step it up a gear, as if to save money by jogging on the spot to keep warm rather than pay extortionate high rising energy prices, and we dip into our carbohydrate stores.
Use your muscles fast and powerful, such as jumping or lifting heavy things, and your body relies on creatine.
At any point in time most people have a certain amount of creatine in their body, mostly from their diet, it’s abundant in meat but also in various other foods.
Many people are below the amount their body can store, so when it comes to doing the strong fast stuff, they tire quickly as they run out of fuel.
Supplying your body with additional creatine not only gives you a little more fuel for such occasions but has also been shown to help with mental clarity and improvements in overall strength.
Move, move often, even if it hurts
In an ideal world every person would undergo a resistance program with a professional Personal Trainer who can ensure they’re doing the right exercises, in the right way, with the right kind of progressions.
Moving weights around not only helps build muscle, but it also helps to stabilize joints, lower injury risk, improve confidence, strengthen bones, tendons, ligaments. It improves hormonal balance, mental health and overall awesomeness.
But even if you don’t want to lift weights, all activity is good, walking, gardening, housework, the more you move, the more your body must work to adapt and improve. Research shows that the more inactive a person is, the higher the amount of muscle wastage, that isn’t exactly a massive surprise, but it serves to help us realize the importance of using our bodies instead of letting it waste away.
But what if it hurts to move?
I have the luxury of waking up and not having to wait a few hours for my body to be able to move without discomfort, but not everybody has that. Arthritis, general inflammation, and old injuries can cause many people to live most of their life in discomfort. Even small task such as going up the stairs can be filled with dred as each step provides more aches and more shooting pain.
But even if it does hurt, the best advice is still to do it, because the more inactive we are the more muscles waste and the quicker things deteriorate, this increases the risk of falls and breaking bones. Something as simple as reducing your grip strength can literally lower your life expectancy, that isn’t to try and alarm anybody, but merely to point out that we need to use it or lose it.
In recovery from injury there is a pyramid of physical skills that a therapist will work through.
first there is proprioception, being able to move a joint at will and for your body to know where it is in space and time.
Then comes strength, being able to use the muscle to perform task.
Then comes endurance, carrying out those tasks for time.
Finally, at the top of the pyramid, is the ultimate physical skill, power.
Moving fast requires big muscles to work and big nerves to tell them to do it. If we stop moving fast, those big muscles get downgraded and the system falls away. Inevitably in life we age, lose strength and power, but the reason so many people in their fifties and above can’t jump up onto a small step has nothing to do with age and everything to do with not having used that skill for some time.
Power to me might be throwing a heavy object such as Mason Greenwood hard against a wall, but to some of my elderly clients it can be just as simple as throwing a tennis ball, or performing a small jump just an inch or so of the floor, just enough to get the muscles to wake up.
We all face the same battle, I write this article to address the issues I face, and whilst I may hope that regularly updating my website helps with my SEO and improves my rankings for Personal trainer hull, I also genuinely want to help anybody reading this who needs guidance on this stuff.
Feel free to get in touch if you’d like further help in your training, nutrition or lifestyle, and remember to only use your powers for good.
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