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Although we try to fight it, the truth of the matter is that aging is inevitable, as are its effects on the body. One of the changes wrought by the aging process is a reduction in muscle mass, which can have far-reaching effects on a person’s overall health and well-being, both physically and mentally. Thankfully, this process is one that can be fought, allowing many seniors to slow, stop, or even reverse the loss of muscle mass that so often accompanies old age. First, though, it’s important to figure out the cause of this loss, as any effort to address it will only be effective if tailored to the underlying issue. So, you may be wondering, “Why am I losing muscle mass so fast, and what can I do about it?” To find out, keep reading as the team at ENU, makers of protein shakes for seniors, provide some answers.
Reasons Why You Might Be Losing Muscle Mass Fast
There are many reasons why a person might be seeing a reduction in their total muscle mass, from the minor – a lack of recent exercise – to the major – a serious illness. Here, we’ll focus on two conditions that are probably the biggest causes of muscle loss, especially as you age: sarcopenia and cachexia.
How Sarcopenia Makes You Lose Muscle Mass
While the loss of muscle mass is generally associated with old age, this process can actually begin as early as age 30. It’s at this point that people start to lose, on average, about half a pound of muscle per year, up until they’re about 60. While this rate of muscle loss may sound insignificant, it can really add up over the years; that said, it’s a slow march, and one that can be counteracted fairly easily through diet and exercise.
However, the rate at which people lose muscle mass picks up after age 60, and only continues to increase from there. By age 70, a person can find themselves losing muscle mass at a rate of more than 1% per year, leading as much as a 15% reduction in muscle mass over the course of a decade. It’s at this point that a person might find that they’re losing muscle mass fast, but don’t worry: most people can fight this decline with a few simple changes, which we’ll go over below.
How Cachexia Causes a Loss of Muscle Mass
If sarcopenia is the tortoise, cachexia is the hare. Whereas a person with sarcopenia might see a fairly slow decline in lean muscle mass, those with cachexia are at much greater risk of extreme muscle loss in a far shorter amount of time. That’s because cachexia is the result of extensive changes in metabolism brought on by a major illness, which could be cancer (especially in its advanced stages), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), HIV/AIDS, Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, or congestive heart failure, to name a few.
The accelerated rate of energy consumption in the body brought on by these conditions can cause a person to lose significant weight, even if they’re eating, and that weight includes both fat and significant amounts of muscle mass. If you’re losing muscle mass fast and all of a sudden, it could be related to a specific illness, and you should see a doctor right away.
What to Do If You Are Losing Muscle Mass Fast
Although the fast loss of muscle mass may sound scary, treatment is available to people of any age in the form of a protein-rich diet and moderate exercise. Of course, sticking with these treatments can be somewhat difficult as a person reaches a more advanced age, but the benefits of maintaining muscle mass – the improved mobility and independence, the reduced risk of falls and the injuries that accompany them – are so substantial that the effort is almost certainly worth it. It should be noted, however, that cachexia may not be reversible, even with these measures, so ask your healthcare provider if they might help in your particular case.
Nutrition to Slow the Loss of Muscle Mass
The first consideration for someone losing muscle mass fast is diet. It’s a well-established fact that protein is the nutrient most directly tied to not only building new muscle mass but also preserving the muscles that are already there. Generally speaking, experts recommend that older adults get about half a gram of protein per pound of body weight each day, but increasing protein intake may be a challenge if you lack an appetite. Those discouraged by the idea of eating more food each day should consider using meal replacement shakes that are high in protein, as liquid supplements tend to be easier to integrate into a senior’s diet than solid food.
Exercises for Those Losing Muscle Mass Fast
As a person gets older, the risk of injury tends to increase, so it’s important that seniors consult their doctor before beginning a new workout routine; it may also be advisable to work with a trainer to come up with a routine that’s both safe and effective. In most cases, this will take the form of progressive resistance training, which involves gradually increasing the weight used during exercise as the person in question builds up their strength. Research has shown this method to be effective at generating new muscle mass, and because it can be customized to an individual’s comfort level, it’s ideal for older adults suffering from sarcopenia.
Nutritional Support Available from ENU for People Losing Muscle Mass Fast
Though there are many ways to go about building muscle, the simplest methods are often the best. If you’re losing muscle mass fast due to sarcopenia or cachexia, consider a meal replacement shake or protein-rich nutritional powder from ENU. To learn more about the benefits of all our products, visit ENU online or call us today at (855) 266-6733.