The Recipe Doctor

From low-fat recipes to recipes designed for persons with diabetes, Elaine Magee, MPH, RD, shares recipes and advice to create healthy meals that are guaranteed to please. [Editor's note: Elaine no longer contributes to Silver Planet, but we have made her archived blog entries available as a service to our readers.]

Two Ways to Maintain Muscle Mass Over 50

By Elaine Magee, RD, MPH

We want to keep or increase whatever muscle we have in middle age. We
certainly don’t want to lose any muscle, but experts estimate that
healthy men and women age 65 and older lose about 4.4 pounds of lean
muscle tissue in a 10-year period. Well, new studies offer insight into
two ways to preserve the muscle we have as we pass the age of 50: (1)
eat a diet with lots of potassium-rich fruits and vegetables and (2)
exercise regularly to improve fitness.

It’s all about
neutralizing acidosis in the body: One of the metabolic ramifications
of eating a diet rich in protein, cereal grains, and other
acid-producing foods is that it can generate tiny amounts of acid each
day. Mild but slowly increasing metabolic acidosis can develop, which
appears to trigger a muscle-wasting (or muscle-losing) response. Foods
that produce alkaline residues once they are metabolized by the body
help neutralize the acidosis that tends to result from eating the
typical American diet. Alkaline-producing foods tend to be
potassium-rich fruits and vegetables—foods we should be eating more of

Data from a three-year study involving 384 male and female volunteers aged 65 or older showed that people whose diets were rich in potassium could expect to have 3.6 more pounds of lean muscle mass compared to those volunteers with half the higher potassium intake.

It’s all about exercising: If you want to preserve your muscle while burning some extra fat stores, then exercise is the means to that end. A recent study with 64 overweight or obese participants aged 60–75 years tested the effects of three regimens over a four-month period. One group just added exercise, another group just followed a weight loss diet, and the last group combined the weight loss diet with the exercise program. The exercise-only group drew more on fat stores as their source of fuel, while the diet-only group lost pounds of muscle along with the pounds of fat. It was the exercise-and-diet group that used more fat stores for energy and seemed to spare the muscle tissue too.

By Elaine Magee, MPH, RD
The Recipe Doctor Blog


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