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Building muscle and increasing strength is often seen as a young person’s activity, which is part of the reason so many seniors abandon the prospect of bulking up as they get age. However, as we get older, our bodies often experience changes that can cause a loss of muscle tissue – a condition that, when it’s the result of aging, is known as sarcopenia. Compared to other health issues that crop up for older adults, losing a little strength may seem like no big deal, but sarcopenia can easily lead to serious problems if left unchecked. That said, if you’re in your 90s, you might assume that you can’t gain the kind of muscle mass you need to fight off this ailment. So, let’s ask the question: Can people in their 90s build muscle? To find out, keep reading as the experts at ENU – makers of protein shakes for the elderly – tackle this important topic.
Why People in Their 90s Need to Build Muscle
Although it’s no secret that older adults tend to have far less muscle mass than their younger selves, the loss of muscle tissue often causes issues far beyond simply having smaller biceps. As their muscle mass wanes, people in their 90s often find that they can’t get around as easily as they used to, and there are dangers in that kind of limitation.
One of the biggest health risks faced by those in their 80s and 90s is falling; as the muscle in a person’s legs atrophy – whether due to sarcopenia, inactivity, or a serious illness – that person’s mobility and balance are affected, making it more likely that they’ll experience a fall. As any senior knows, a bad enough fall can cause severe fractures and permanent injuries, which is why it’s so important for those in their 90s to address muscle loss before it’s too late.
Fortunately, it’s entirely possible for people in their 90s to build muscle effectively, provided they make the appropriate lifestyle changes. In the next section, we’ll cover those changes and how you can institute them in your life or the life of a loved one.
How Can a 90-Year-Old Build Muscle?
If building muscle at 90 seems like a daunting task, know that it doesn’t have to be. In fact, the process of putting on more muscle mass is actually very simple; it’s essentially the same steps used by people at any age – just separated by a matter of degrees. While younger people tend to focus on lifting as much weight as possible and eating as much protein as possible to encourage muscle growth, someone in their 90s will have a much less intense routine. Still, to be successful at building muscle, you’ll need to focus on the same two areas: diet and exercise.
To ensure you stay healthy, it’s always important to keep an eye on what nutrients you’re giving your body. When putting together a diet for building muscle in your 90s, the main nutrient to watch for is protein.
Found in all sorts of lean meats, beans, and even dairy, protein is the nutrient that helps your body create new muscle tissue. The amino acids in protein are used not only as the building blocks for those developing muscle cells but also as catalysts to encourage the muscle-making process. Plus, getting plenty of protein helps to protect what muscle tissue you already have from diminishing due to sarcopenia.
Generally speaking, experts recommend that seniors get at least a third of a gram of protein per pound of body weight, but that’s just to stay healthy. If you’ve lost strength and need to build muscle, your body will require more than the baseline amount; aim for about half a gram per pound instead. For a person in their 90s who weighs 160 pounds, that means getting 80 grams of protein per day.
For a variety of reasons – from appetite loss to difficulty chewing or swallowing – meeting this goal can be difficult for older adults, which is why meal replacement shakes are often used. A nutrition shake can add significant amounts of protein to your diet – 20 grams per shake, in the case of ENU – though they’re not the only option. We also offer a tasteless nutritional powder with protein that can be added to a variety of foods and drinks without altering their flavor or texture, the perfect thing for people in their 90s who struggle to consume a higher volume of food each day.
As important as a high-protein diet can be for people in their 90s, the other half of the equation – exercise – is just as important. Studies have shown time and again that resistance exercise is the best way to encourage muscle growth at any age; for those 90 and up, you’ll probably want to start with no added weight (or very little) and work your way up from there. To be safe, consider working with a personal trainer to come up with the right routine for you, and make sure to talk to your doctor before starting an exercise routine.
Try an ENU Nutrition Shake with Protein to Help Build Muscle in Your Nineties
Increasing muscle mass can be tough, no matter how old you are, but sticking to the proper routine – getting plenty of protein each day along with regular exercise – is sure to produce results. If you’re in your 90s and need to build muscle, ask your doctor if adding a high-protein nutrition shake from ENU could help. Learn more about all our products by visiting ENU online or calling (855) 266-6733 today.