Are you eating right to maintain muscle mass?

If you regularly workout, but aren’t seeing expected results, maybe you should take a closer look at your diet (or come see one of our sports dietitians!)  Our everyday food choices and food patterns can hinder or help how fast our muscles react to exercise. Maintaining muscle mass while we age makes a true impact on the quality of our lives. However, it’s possible to lose 40% of our muscle mass between the ages of 20-70 years old.  Yikes!

3 eating strategies to help minimize muscle mass with aging

Check out my television segment on STL Moms on Fox 2 for more on 3 eating strategies to maintain muscle mass.

two women on camera talking about muscle mass and pointing at leafy greens

1. Eat More Protein at Breakfast

It’s well known eating enough protein is key to maintaining muscle, however, WHEN we eat protein is key. Most of us do a good job eating enough protein at dinner, but we skimp on protein at breakfast.  Researchers have shown that getting 20-30 grams of protein at each meal can help to prevent muscle loss with aging.

Here are easy three breakfast ideas that have about 20-30 grams of protein:

  • 1 cup Greek yogurt with fruits and whole-grain granola
  • 1 cup low-fat cottage cheese with herbs and veggies
  • 2 eggs plus a slice of low-fat cheese on whole-grain toast

2. Nosh on Nitrates

Nitrates are naturally occurring compounds in leafy green vegetables like beets, beet greens, arugula, butter leaf lettuce, basil, Swiss chard.  When eaten with protein, nitrates increase blood flow and nutrients to muscles delivering more oxygen and blood to our muscles to helping them maintain strength.

Did you know?

Using mouthwash not only kills bad bacteria but good bacteria as well?  If you are a mouthwash user, you may consider giving up the wash and sticking to your standard toothbrush and toothpaste. Mouthwash kills the good bacteria in our mouth that allow nitrates to work in our bodies.

3. Go Fish at Least 2 Times a week

Omega-3 fats are best known for their aid in protecting our heart, but these fats also reduce inflammation in our muscles which decreases muscle breakdown. The best way to meet the recommendation is to include 2 servings of fatty fish (such as salmon, tuna or trout) a week because it contains both omega-3 fats and protein. If you’re not a regular fish eater – take a standard dose of a omega-3 supplement.

While no diet strategies will earn you a “workout pass ,” these eating strategies will support and optimize your exercise efforts.

Let’s not only live to 100, but let’s do it feeling strong and sturdy.

 

 

Jennifer McDaniel

Jennifer McDaniel is a Registered Dietitian, Media Spokesperson, and co-author of Prevention's Mediterranean Table Cookbook. She and her team of Registered Dietitians aim to help their clients go further, make change last, and unlock their potential. She lives in St. Louis, MO with her husband, and three young sons. If you are interested in working with Jennifer, please visit our contact page.