Keep Your Muscles

Keep Your Muscles!
Keep Your Muscles!
Keep Your Muscles!

We've said it before, we're saying it again, and we'll keep saying it - Keep Your Muscles!  

We're not talking about maintaining a body-builder's physique, we're talking functionality. 


The loss of muscle mass and the loss of muscular strength are two of the most potentially profound changes that happen in age. If you lose your muscles, the resulting loss of functionality, and of physical confidence, are extremely damaging not only to a person's quality of life but also to their fundamental ability to do anything. Now a new piece of research has highlighted the importance of eating an adequate amount of protein in order to maintain muscle mass and strength as people age.


In general men should eat three ounces ( about 80 grams) of protein per day and women 2.6 ounces (about 75 grams). And protein should come from from both animal and plant sources.


The research comes from Hebrew Senor Life, part of the Institute for Ageing Research which is affiliated to Harvard Medical School. The co-authors were Douglas P. Kiel, M.D., M.P.H., Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Director Musculoskeletal Research Center  and Dr. Marian T. Hannan, Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Co-Director, Musculoskeletal Research Center at IFAR and the lead researcher was Shivani Sahni, Ph.D. from Harvard Medical School–affiliated Hebrew SeniorLife Institute for Aging Research (IFAR) in Boston, Mass. Researchers used data from the Framingham Offspring Cohort in which participants were aged between 29 and 86 years of age, and included 2,656 men and women in quadriceps strength analyses and 2,636 men and women in analyses of leg lean mass.


The study says that protein from both animal and plant sources are seen to be important as they each provide different nutritional benefits for lean muscle and for leg strength, leg strength having been used as the measure of muscular strength in this study. It appears from this research that animal protein appears to be associated with maintaining muscle mass whereas vegetable protein was more associated with maintaining muscular strength. We are not sure that vegetarians and vegans would agree with the conclusions about animal protein, but whatever the case about the protein source, ensuring that the total daily amount of protein consumed from either sourc reached the levels mentioned was seen to be an essential factor in retaining muscle.


Samantha Heller, a senior clinical nutritionist at New York University Medical Center in New York City commented on the research. She agreed that the source of the protein did matter adding that "Many large studies suggest that those who eat diets high in animal foods have an increased rate of death and risk of diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes, while plant-based diets reduce the risks of dying and chronic diseases,". So not everyone thinks that a diet containing a high percentage of animal protein is entirely beneficial.


Moreover, Heller's most important comment on the research was when she said that what the paper left out was perhaps the most important component of strength - exercise! "You can eat all the protein you want, but exercise is necessary to increase muscle strength", she explained.


While the main focus of the research  was on the decline in muscle mass and strength leading to increased risk of falls and fractures and the potential for resulting disability and loss of independence, Silver Grey athletes will want to avoid it at all costs due to the debilitating effect it has on their sports and activities. Nor will they need telling that physical and strength training are perhaps the most important aspect.


Many people will want to maintain their muscle purely in order to maintain functionality, avoid falls and stay independent as they age. Silver Grey athletes will achieve all those benefits as a result of preparing themselves for their sports.