The desire to stay active may typically depend on the things you enjoy doing and the impact they may have on your life; however, your ability to perform those activities depends on your strength and energy to do them. Weight or any resistance training may help you gain considerable strength without building any muscle, but it will take adequate nutrition for your body to use and store enough energy to perform harder tasks and recover faster from muscle soreness or injury.
Nutrition is not only about providing glucose from food which is broken down and stored by skeletal muscle for energy, but building strength, muscle mass, and stamina from a combination of nutrients like protein, creatine, vitamins D and K2, and folic acid, which enables you to move up the stairs, carry groceries, pick up grandchildren, or load the washer and dryer without getting short of breath.
Strength and stamina come from the growth of new muscle fibers to facilitate the better coordination of different muscle groups to make your movement more fluid and effective; however, building strength, muscle mass, and stamina through weight training improves your body’s ability to store carbs, control blood sugar, and burn excess fat.
Protein plays a major role in the growth and repair of every cell in the body and it specifically employs branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), like leucine, to facilitate protein synthesis for building muscle and fat loss. You may eat eggs poultry, fish, or yogurt as a source of protein (or a lot of nuts, chickpeas, dark green vegetables, and special grains if you are vegan (or vegetarian); however, results of studies on protein supplements in isolate form have shown that amino acids are absorbed into the bloodstream faster to accelerate muscle growth, fat loss, and recovery. ” Researchers believe that their intake increases amino acid levels in the bloodstream, which in turn triggers a more significant response for muscle synthesis” – Healthline (2/13/20) Most people are not meeting their daily nutritional needs from food (and much less as they age) so it becomes necessary to supplement meals with whey, casein, or plant-based protein powders (in combination with resistance training and cardio) to achieve a more pronounced weight reduction as well as maintain or improve your muscle mass.
Hydration promotes a balanced transport of electrolytes and micronutrients to muscle cells to support muscle flexion and recovery to build muscle mass and strength. Pure creatine monohydrate is still considered the most effective nutritional supplement for building strength. It increases water retention in your muscles to accelerate muscle recovery and growth, which gives you the strength and capacity to perform more reps with heavier weight in a workout.
This level of hydration slows the loss of muscle mass and lubrication of joints, cartilage, and tendons as you age and preserves the strength required to maintain basic functionality and mobility to enjoy a desired quality of life. “Reduced kidney function means less concentrated urine can be produced and more free water is lost, but this may be compounded in by a reduction in aldosterone, a hormone responsible for helping your body hold onto water more effectively.” – Andy Blow, Training Peaks (2018) Although sweating and the reduced sensation of thirst could further increase the risks of kidney and urinary function in taking creatine as you age, proper supplementation under the guidance of health (or fitness) professional will support the benefits of effective nutrition.
Vitamin D, although it supports the neuromuscular and immune systems, is critical to building strength, muscle mass, and stamina because it facilitates absorption of calcium which is vital to bone growth and the increase in bone density. Increased bone density is necessary for increased strength and support of growing muscles.
Many physicians and dieticians may believe that supplementation is not needed if you’re getting enough vitamin D from your diet and exposed to sunlight, but the current nutritional value of conventional food is under continuous debate. “Health experts and consumers have long debated whether organic foods are more nutritious and safer than conventional foods; While the study finds that organics do have some safety advantages over conventional foods, nutritionally speaking they have little extra to offer.”- Stephanie Watson, Harvard Health Blog (9/5/2012) If your levels are low, so is your testosterone.
“As we age, our testosterone production drops. This decline accelerates after the age of 30 and can lead to a number of health problems, including loss of muscle mass and strength, increase in body fat, low libido, and mood changes.” – NHS Choices (1/20/20) Supplements will help with this, along with the resulting effect of boosting training performance.
There are many other vitamins and minerals that contribute to muscle and strength gain and loss, such as iron for red blood cell production, zinc for testosterone production, and defending against free radical damage. You can get these from your food and supplements and it is important not to try and consume what you cannot (and too much of them) which could be harmful.
Keeping healthy by eating a well-balanced diet to build strength is critical for not only building your muscles but also your bones, ligaments, and tendons in order to achieve a desired quality of life. The average person should be able to perform basic tasks in everyday living at a good level of health even into old age if they help their bodies with proper training and nutritional support from the diet, meal replacement, and nutritional supplementation.
Vitamin K1 (K2)
While calcium is a major mineral for bone growth, density, and maintenance, Vitamins K1 (from green, leafy vegetables) and K2 (from animal livers) also support its absorption. Over, or improper, weight training can lead to injury and bruising as muscles heal and recover. “Bruises are usually caused by a blow or pressure but, in aged persons, may occur spontaneously. In healing, the color of the bruise gradually fades away into a yellowish hue, as a result of the formation of bile pigments and the disintegration and gradual absorption of blood.”- bruise pathology, Encyclopedia Britannica (4/30/21)
K1 and K2 ensure healthy blood clotting to prevent excess bleeding and bruising when blood vessels rupture in areas of increased pressure during weight or resistance training. K2 not only assists in increasing bone strength but also in decreasing calcium build-up in your blood vessels, thereby reducing the calcification (plaque build-up) in your arteries and the risk of stroke and heart disease. Supplementation will help, especially for vegetarians who will miss out on these nutrients from animal foods.
A well-rounded, plant-based diet is critical for optimal health and strength. Animal products are not necessary to achieve adequate protein levels. In fact, consuming too much animal protein can have harmful consequences such as weight gain, cancer, heart disease, and other chronic illnesses. By following a vegan diet, you’ll automatically be eating more fruits, vegetables, and legumes which are high in fiber and antioxidants. These nutrients help protect your body against disease and many harmful toxins.
Building muscle and becoming stronger through training is possible at any age with the right diet, supplementation, and exercise. Nutrition is critical to success whether you are a vegan or an omnivore, and there are many options for supplementation to make up for any nutritional deficiencies. Like food digestion, your organs must be able to process supplements and dispel their wastes. “Supplements for weight loss, bodybuilding, or an “energy boost” should not be used by people with kidney disease or kidney failure.”- National Kidney Foundation (09/06/2016)
As with any diet and supplementation, current health conditions and medication restrictions govern an individual’s nutritional requirements. Speak with your doctor to determine the best course of action for you. Also, be sure to consult your nutritionist to create a dietary and supplement.
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Britannica, T. Editors of Encyclopaedia (2021, April 30). bruise. Encyclopedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/science/bruise