Featuring Dr. Elizabeth Yurth, Boulder Longevity Institute & Lacy Puttuck, Dominate Your Game
Individuals who are generally inactive lose as much as three to five percent of their muscle mass for each decade that passes once they turn 30 years of age. In other terms, that can be four to six pounds of muscle per ten years. Muscle is integral to health at any age.
While some might call this a fact of life, it is important to note that we do have the ability to push back against this natural loss of strength. Others might say that it’s best to let nature take its course but this belies the understanding that muscle is the currency of life – without it, we lose the ability to function and enjoy daily living.
Strength building can happen at any point in life. With an appropriate focus on hormone and nutrition optimization, while having a good idea of how to handle injury, we can all work to build and maintain a healthy, strong body that will lengthen our health span.
Hormones and Strength As We Age
Appropriately balanced and available hormones are imperative to maintaining health and, importantly, strength. Despite a continued reference to a misguided, misinterpreted, and inaccurate collection of research, it is far more dangerous to be lacking appropriate hormones than it is to replace them.
Optimizing hormones requires a balanced approach that ensures the three sex hormones – testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone – all work together to support healthy strength and systemic function.
Hormones are foundational for building muscle. Without them, strength and health are impossible to maintain. A healthy musculoskeletal system requires testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone in an appropriate balance.
Our hormones generally begin naturally declining around age 25, leading to challenges in building and maintaining muscle. Other factors can expedite this drop in hormone levels, making it imperative to begin checking on them early.
Therapies like hormone replacement are often seen as an issue for the aging or aged. We need to change that paradigm to understand that getting ahead of an issue is far more efficient than trying to fix a problem that has already occurred.
Nutrition and Muscle
When it comes to eating appropriately, it can be easy to get caught up in the next big thing or overcomplicated systems. This leads to an environment perfect for hopelessness and quitting. As Lacy Puttuck of Dominate Your Game puts it, “Keep it simple.”
Nutrition should be seen as a way to support our bodies through anything we throw at it – workouts, illness, injury, or just everyday life. Consuming enough macro- and micronutrients can help keep your body functioning optimally, allowing you to build the strength necessary to support wellness.
Protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats are all macronutrients. Macro, meaning our body needs a lot of them. Despite seemingly massive nutritional needs, we can still keep eating for wellness simple.
Focusing on real, whole foods goes a long way toward ensuring we are getting a sufficient sampling of both macro- and micronutrients. While every individual is different, we should generally be aiming for one gram of protein, per pound of ideal body weight. Additionally, we can use a 2:1 carb-to-protein ratio for estimating our muscle building needs or a 1:1 ratio for our leaner moments.
When to eat is generally up to the individual. One large meal has major drawbacks and is not recommended while fasting outside of sleep periods is seemingly detrimental to muscle growth. Eating prior to workouts could depend on the workout plan itself while eating 30 – 45 minutes after is a solid plan (muscles are happy to be fed at this point.)
Finally, staying away from the miracle foods (BEYOND meat, for instance), overprocessed foods and alcohol is advisable. Our bodies prefer whole, natural foods that lead to appropriate digestion and use. For simplicity, think of meats, roots, and fruits when it comes time to shop for dinner.
Recovering When Necessary
The ideal outcome of appropriate hormone balance and nutrition is a strong, healthy body that rarely falls ill or gets injured. Unfortunately, life happens. What should we do to improve outcomes if we do suffer some form of major injury?
Keep it moving. It seems we often decide to shut everything down when an injury occurs, and this could not be farther from the best idea. While there are obvious limitations when an injury occurs, using the rest of our bodies and keeping muscles engaged is key to a healthy recovery.
Think twice before opening that bottle. NSAIDs are almost always taken after any form of injury. This is understandable as the pain can be induced by the proinflammatory cytokines rushing in to help with healing. Unfortunately, these same NSAIDs inhibit healing by shutting those cytokines down too soon. One decent choice, Meloxicam, does avoid blunting all the proinflammatory cytokines but does inhibit some of those that induce pain.
Gather a team. Aside from fracture care, few injuries require immediately heading into the operating room. A team including your orthopedist, nutritionist, functional medicine provider, and a trainer can help ensure all angles are being considered for your strongest recovery.
Keep up the good work. We discussed the importance of hormone and nutritional optimization in strength building and injury prevention. The same applies to injury recovery. Ensuring your body is fully optimized to take on the task of recovery will undoubtedly speed the process and improve outcomes.
Foundations of Healthy Aging
Everything about getting strong weaves together to create a foundation for healthy aging and longevity. We can stay strong. We do not have to just deal with getting old and frail. Get strong – save your life.
Getting Strong To Save Your Life Series
Getting Strong to Save Your Life is a series that points out the importance of strength and muscle to health and longevity, while providing insights on how to make strength-building happen at any point ln life. Enroll in the three-part series today to hear Dr. Elizabeth Yurth and Lacy Puttuck discuss hormones, nutrition and tools for recovery and rehabilitation.