As you age, you need to fight sarcopenia, or age-related muscle loss. While this is most common in those over age 55, the symptoms can begin sooner. Starting early to avoid this condition is a prudent move. In conjunction with a balanced diet and well-rounded exercise program, supplementation can help avoid muscle loss as you age. Consult your physician before beginning any diet, exercise or supplementation regimen.
As you age, muscle protein synthesis, or the ability to repair and build muscle tissue from protein sources, decreases. To avoid this, increase your protein intake. If you are not getting at least twice the protein of an inactive individual, you will have more difficulty maintaining, let alone building muscle mass. Get as much protein as you can from whole foods such as lean cuts of beef, fish, chicken, milk and eggs. Protein shakes in-between meals are a convenient way to increase your daily protein intake.
As you age, your ability to produce steroidal hormones decreases. Steroidal hormones, such as testosterone, the primary muscle-building hormone, are produced from converted dietary sterols. This means you need a certain amount of fat and cholesterol for your body to produce testosterone. A low-fat diet will limit this, so get your fat from healthy sources such as polyunsaturated fat like olive oil. If it's too difficult to get enough via oily fish and nuts, supplement with essential fatty acids such as fish oil or flax oil. Both are available in capsules and liquid form. Liquids can be added to your protein shakes, but flax oil can drastically change the taste of your shake.
As you age, your risk of fat and cholesterol-related illness increases. If you are not eating much in the way of red meat, you are not getting dietary creatine, which helps provide short-term energy for much-needed exercise. Cranking out an extra rep or two gets harder as you age, but creatine makes this easier. While you naturally produce about 2 g of creatine a day, an additional five grams can compensate for any dietary deficiency you may be experiencing. It can also be mixed with your protein shakes without affecting the taste.
Oxidative stress produces free radicals, harmful atoms that disturb healthy cell synthesis. Alpha-lipoic acid is both an antioxidant, reversing oxidative stress, and a glucose disposal agent. Glucose disposal agents assist with the transfer of sugar into your muscles. As you age, your stress levels and ability to recover from free-radical induced stress and oxidation decreases. Alpha-lipoic acid will not only help you clear waste products from your system, it will help help you metabolize sugar more efficiently and get more out of your diet.