Over 40? Sarcopenia – What you need to know.

Sarcopenia is a naturally occurring health condition that causes loss of muscle mass as we age. Beginning in our 40’s, sarcopenia results in the progressive loss of between 1% and 2% of our muscle mass and strength each year. Left unchecked, the loss of muscle mass can result in frailty and restricted independence. Sarcopenia is generally attributed to a few risk factors: being over 40 years of age, living a sedentary lifestyle, and malnutrition.

Symptoms of sarcopenia include loss of strength and stamina which can interfere with physical activity. Sarcopenia occurs in people as they age due to several factors:

  • Insufficient daily protein or calorie intake
  • Lower concentrations of growth hormones
  • Decreased ability to turn protein into energy
  • A reduction in nerve cells responsible for sending signals from the brain to start movement

Adequate nutrition and moderate exercise play a major role in both avoiding and treating sarcopenia. Research shows that as adults age they need more protein per kilogram than they did at a younger age to maintain muscle mass. This clinical recommendation in now emerging in the medical literature and daily nutrient intakes. Protein is the most valuable nutrient for repairing and building muscle fibres.

This first image shows the leg of a 40 year old triathlete, containing a large amount of muscle surrounding the bone.

This second image shows the leg of a 74 year old sedentary man – there is a dramatic loss of muscle mass when compared to the previous image.

The final MRI image shows the leg of a 70 year old triathlete, with a large amount of muscle mass around the bone, similar to the first image. This puts into perspective how dramatic muscle wastage can be when not managed.

Enprocal, an Australian made food supplement, contains a high level of protein with 15.1 grams per serve. The required serving size of 35g (compared to 50-60g serving size in similar products) reflects Enprocal’s nutrient density and relative ease of use.

Enprocal also contains nearly 400mg of calcium per serve, or 50% of the recommended daily intake for most adults. Calcium is also extremely beneficial in protecting bone integrity and preventing conditions such as osteoporosis. Containing fibre, all essential amino acids, and a total of 17 essential vitamins and minerals, Enprocal is gluten free and suitable for diabetics.

As prevention is a better than treatment, the best way to help keep Sarcopenia at bay is to ensure an adequate protein intake combined with moderate resistance exercise.

Weekly moderate exercise, specifically resistance or strength training in conjunction with an increased protein diet, is an extremely effective tool to prevent sarcopenia. Exercise has been shown to decrease frailty and improve muscle strength in adults at almost any age – it’s never too late to begin. This approach is recommended for most days of the week, however a minimum of three days per week is enough to slow or arrest muscle loss.

In addition to maintaining a regular exercise routine, it is beneficial to
supplement your diet with a product rich in protein, essential vitamins and minerals, such as Enprocal. Mix it into selected foods or drinks you consume daily to help provide the nutrition needed to support everyday healthy living.

As a milk-coloured powder, it can lighten the appearance of some foods and beverages, but won’t affect the flavor of food, nor its texture. This means that a healthy supplement to your diet can be made without the need to alter what you currently enjoy.

You can view a range of recipes here with advice on how Enprocal can be easily integrated into your diet.