Posts Tagged ‘Muscle’

How To Eat For Maximum Muscle Growth At Any Age!

As you age, your body’s protein, carb, and fat needs change, making it harder to hold on to muscle. Here’s how to build a diet to sustain you for a lifetime!

From teens to people in their 80s, improving one’s physique is a truly “ageless” pastime. Sure, not all of these people call themselves bodybuilders, but more of them in all age groups are eating and training with the pursuit of more muscle in mind. And with good reason! The further on we get in age, the more pronounced the benefits of a little more muscle mass become in terms of quality of life and longevity.

In short, you’re never too old to see the benefits of getting stronger. But while training plays a major part in giving your body the stimulus to change, there’s plenty you can do with your diet, as well. In fact, structuring your diet around your age and goals is essential to great results.

Of course, I’m not going to hit you over the head with some “one magic food” baloney here. Just the opposite. I’m going to help you utilize the classic way bodybuilders balance the three macronutrients—protein, carbohydrates, and dietary fats—to ramp up muscle growth and fat loss. The only difference: You’re going to optimize them for your age!

It turns out there’s been an extensive amount of research into how people at different ages respond to different levels of the macronutrients, and it’s not hard to make some recommendations that could pay off big-time for you. Let’s chow down!

Protein Are you getting enough?

You are probably aware that dietary protein is important for stimulating muscle growth (through muscle protein synthesis, or MPS) and optimal recovery from training. But how does age affect this anabolic (muscle-building) response to protein?

Research suggests that younger individuals are very sensitive to the anabolic effects of amino acids.1-3 The old cliché of a young man who can seemingly put on muscle just by looking at a steak? Yeah, there’s probably something to it. The opposite might also be true, as several researchers have shown that comparatively large doses of amino acids are required to maximize the anabolic response in older individuals.1,2,4-8

As you age, a diet rich in protein can help prevent age-related decline in muscle protein synthesis.

Why is this? It appears the decreased response may be explained by a decrease in the activity of the protein mTOR and the enzyme p70S6K, both of which are involved in initiating protein synthesis.2,4 Furthermore, it appears that the decreased anabolic response in the elderly may be due, at least in part, to the natural increase in oxidative stress that accompanies aging. Oxidative stress is the type of damage that all those antioxidants are meant to mitigate. As levels of certain molecules known as “reactive oxygen species” go up, levels of protein synthesis go down.9

There is hope, however. Consuming a diet rich in protein—specifically, the amino acid leucine—can help prevent the age-related decline in muscle protein synthesis.

Muscle-building protein recommendations by age:

  • < 18 years: 0.6-0.8 grams per pound of body weight
  • 19-40 years: 0.8-1.1 grams per pound of body weight
  • 41-65 years: 1.1-1.3 grams per pound of body weight
  • > 65 years: 1.3-1.5 grams per pound of body weight

Even if you don’t measure out your protein to the gram, the lesson here is that as you age, you need more protein. If you can have it with antioxidant-rich foods, all the better. You can’t go wrong with a diet rich in meat, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds here.

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Carbohydrates Eat less over time

Like protein, adequate intake of carbohydrates can positively affect muscle protein synthesis rates. However, compared to their younger counterparts, older adults may need fewer carbs to experience muscle growth.

The primary way carbohydrates influence muscle growth is by increasing insulin secretion. Insulin helps shuttle available amino acids to cells to jump-start the muscle growth and repair process. In this sense, a fair amount of carbohydrates are still needed even in your later decades of life to help maintain and grow muscle.

Carbohydrates consumed together with protein appear to have a greater anabolic effect in adults than simply consuming protein alone.10 It also appears that insulin can still guard against protein breakdown in adults, meaning it could have a “muscle-sparing” effect. Additionally, there is some evidence that eating carbs can prolong the body’s muscle-building response to amino acids.11

Compared to their younger counterparts, older adults may need fewer carbs to experience muscle growth.

In short, you can still benefit from carbs as you get older. But because physical activity and metabolic rate tend to decline as you age, you probably don’t need nearly as many of them. As your protein intake goes up with age, your carbohydrate intake can comparatively go down.

Muscle-building carbohydrate recommendations by age:

  • < 20 years: 1.8-2.6 grams per pound of body weight
  • 21-40 years: 1.5-2.3 grams per pound of body weight
  • 41-65 years: 1.2-2 grams per pound of body weight
  • > 65 years: 0.8-1.7 grams per pound of body weight

It’s worth repeating here that these recommendations are for maximizing muscle gain, so they will need to be adjusted for individuals wanting to lose body fat. Additionally, as I mentioned in my PH3 Power and Hypertrophy Trainer, individuals vary wildly in their ability to “tolerate” carbs—that is, eat them without turning them into body fat.

So consider these numbers simply to be a start to the conversation. While I think the protein numbers are more or less solid, these carb recommendations definitely aren’t set in stone.

Fat Go up as carbs go down

The classic way for bodybuilders to construct their diet plan is like this: Protein first, and then tinker with the balance between carbs and fats until you find the sweet spot that works for you. Often, the protein stays consistent, regardless of whether the goal is muscle gain or fat loss.

This approach works wonders because it prioritizes the nutrient most people neglect most—protein—and gives endless room for customization in the other two macronutrients. Appropriately, I advise that, as you age, your fat intake should largely be determined by your carb intake.

Protein first, and then tinker with the balance between carbs and fats until you find the sweet spot that works for you.

In other words, while someone who is younger and still sensitive to the anabolic effects of carbohydrates may be better off consuming lower fat (never lower than 0.2 grams per pound of body weight) with more carbohydrates, an older individual may want to consume fewer of their calories from carbohydrates, and more from protein and fat.

Muscle growth fat recommendations by age:

  • < 20 years: 0.25-0.45 grams per pound of body weight
  • 21-40 years: 0.35-0.55 grams per pound of body weight
  • 41-65 years: 0.45-0.65 grams per pound of body weight
  • > 65 years: 0.55-0.75 grams per pound of body weight

Never Stop Growing

As they age, far too many people in their middle years and older take what is effectively a haphazard approach to their diet. If they want to lose weight, they keep eating the same things in the same balance, but simply cut serving size. If they want to gain muscle, they eat their normal diet, plus a protein shake or bar every now and then.

That can work to a limited degree for certain people, but it’s far from ideal. You deserve better—and getting your macros in the right ballpark is the best place to start! Get just a little more systematic about what you’re eating to go along with your training, and you can amaze yourself with what you’re able to achieve at any age!

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  1. Paddon-Jones, D., Sheffield-Moore, M., Zhang, X. J., Volpi, E., Wolf, S. E., Aarsland, A., … & Wolfe, R. R. (2004). Amino acid ingestion improves muscle protein synthesis in the young and elderly. American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology And Metabolism, 286(3), E321-E328.
  2. Cuthbertson, D., Smith, K., Babraj, J., Leese, G., Waddell, T., Atherton, P., … & Rennie, M. J. (2005). Anabolic signaling deficits underlie amino acid resistance of wasting, aging muscle. The FASEB Journal, 19(3), 422-424.
  3. Drummond, M. J., Miyazaki, M., Dreyer, H. C., Pennings, B., Dhanani, S., Volpi, E., … & Rasmussen, B. B. (2009). Expression of growth-related genes in young and older human skeletal muscle following an acute stimulation of protein synthesis. Journal of Applied Physiology, 106(4), 1403-1411.
  4. Guillet, C., Prod’homme, M., Balage, M., Gachon, P., Giraudet, C., Morin, L., … & Boirie, Y. (2004). Impaired anabolic response of muscle protein synthesis is associated with S6K1 dysregulation in elderly humans. The FASEB Journal, 18(13), 1586-1587.
  5. Katsanos, C. S., Kobayashi, H., Sheffield-Moore, M., Aarsland, A., & Wolfe, R. R. (2006). A high proportion of leucine is required for optimal stimulation of the rate of muscle protein synthesis by essential amino acids in the elderly. American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology And Metabolism, 291(2), E381-E387.
  6. Katsanos, C. S., Kobayashi, H., Sheffield-Moore, M., Aarsland, A., & Wolfe, R. R. (2006). A high proportion of leucine is required for optimal stimulation of the rate of muscle protein synthesis by essential amino acids in the elderly. American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology And Metabolism, 291(2), E381-E387.
  7. Dardevet, D., Sornet, C., Bayle, G., Prugnaud, J., Pouyet, C., & Grizard, J. (2002). Postprandial stimulation of muscle protein synthesis in old rats can be restored by a leucine-supplemented meal. The Journal of Nutrition, 132(1), 95-100.
  8. Rieu, I., Balage, M., Sornet, C., Debras, E., Ripes, S., Rochon-Bonhomme, C., … & Dardevet, D. (2007). Increased availability of leucine with leucine-rich whey proteins improves postprandial muscle protein synthesis in aging rats. Nutrition, 23(4), 323-331.
  9. Patel, J., McLeod, L. E., Vries, R. G., Flynn, A., Wang, X., & Proud, C. G. (2002). Cellular stresses profoundly inhibit protein synthesis and modulate the states of phosphorylation of multiple translation factors. European Journal of Biochemistry, 269(12), 3076-3085.
  10. Volpi, E., Mittendorfer, B., Rasmussen, B. B., & Wolfe, R. R. (2000). The response of muscle protein anabolism to combined hyperaminoacidemia and glucose-induced hyperinsulinemia is impaired in the elderly. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 85(12), 4481-4490.
  11. Wilson, G. J., Layman, D. K., Moulton, C. J., Norton, L. E., Anthony, T. G., Proud, C. G., … & Garlick, P. J. (2011). Leucine or carbohydrate supplementation reduces AMPK and eEF2 phosphorylation and extends postprandial muscle protein synthesis in rats. American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology And Metabolism, 301(6), E1236-E1242. Articles

8 Ways To Speed Up Muscle Growth

Looking to make the most of your time under the iron? Build slabs of quality mass faster with these 8 tips from WBFF pro Jamie Alderton!

Building muscle can be a slow and frustrating process for even the most committed lifters, especially if you’ve spent an appreciable amount of time under the bar. You might have grown like a weed when you first started training, but over time, consistent muscle growth requires new strategies and tactics. If your journey to more muscle has stalled, a few tweaks to your program might be all you need!

Thankfully, WBFF pro Jamie Alderton is here to share some of his favorite tips and techniques to kick your muscle-building efforts into high gear. Wherever you are on the road to packing on more quality mass, try a few of these tips to supercharge your results!


Go Slow to Grow

When it comes to packing on size, you might actually want to slow down your lifts to elicit new growth. “Too many people focus on trying to lift heavy and fast to speed up muscle growth,” Alderton says. “This often leads to sloppy form and takes the focus off of the working muscles.”

“While adding weight to your lifts helps you grow, it comes secondary to stimulating the muscle through a full range of motion,” he adds. If you let a heavy load get in the way of proper form and tempo, you aren’t doing yourself any favors.

A photo posted by Jamie Alderton WBFF Pro (@grenadejay) on

Form and controlled speed are crucial. “A key mechanism for building muscle is mechanical tension, which is created when a muscle is stretched and contracted repeatedly with a challenging weight,” Alderton explains. Consider watching yourself perform each rep of an exercise to check your form, and then focus on lifting and lowering the weight slowly and under control.

“What most people don’t realize is that the eccentric phase of the lift is just as effective at building muscle as the concentric phase,” Alderton adds. The eccentric—or lowering—portion of the lift creates more muscle damage, which is another essential mechanism of muscle growth.

“Slowing down your reps in the eccentric phase of your lifts will not only cause you to lift through a greater range of motion, it will also increase the time that the muscle is under tension,” Alderton adds. This, in short, can lead to greater muscle gains.


Grab a Spot

When lifting near your one-rep max or pushing past failure on your muscle-building sets, training with a spotter is extremely beneficial. Even if you don’t use your partner’s assistance on every rep, knowing he or she has your back will help you push harder than you otherwise would. Over time, this extra effort translates to greater strength progression and muscular adaptation.

A spotter can also help you perform specific training techniques like assisted and eccentric (negative) reps to push past sticking points and stimulate new growth. During assisted reps, you lift to failure, and then have your spotter assist you with a few additional reps beyond that point.

During negatives training, you load up with a weight heavier than you’d normally rep out and focus entirely on a slow eccentric, or lowering, component of the rep. Your partner helps you with the positive portion.


Maintain a Caloric Surplus

Muscle won’t grow without adequate cause. To build it effectively, you need an adequate training stimulus followed by ample nutrition and recovery. Getting enough daily calories is a critical component of adding quality size. “If you really want to speed up your muscle growth, you need to fuel your body effectively,” Alderton adds.

A photo posted by Jamie Alderton WBFF Pro (@grenadejay) on

The best way to do this is to take in more calories than you burn. A 250-calorie surplus—or 250 calories over what you’re currently eating, or your maintenance goal—is a great starting point, but be sure to monitor progress over time and adjust accordingly. While you don’t want to embark on a caloric free-for-all and start packing on body fat, you also don’t want to have too small of a surplus. If your surplus is null, you’ll be building muscle at a snail’s pace. If you’re in that boat, start eating 500 calories over your daily maintenance level.

Not sure where you stand? A trick Alderton uses to guesstimate how many calories he needs to build muscle is to take his body weight in pounds and multiply by 18-20. If he’s not growing after eating in that range for a few weeks, he’ll slowly increase his calories. If you’re wondering how to find your maintenance calorie level, just multiply your body weight by 15 for an easy place to start.


Know Your Maxes

Another key to getting stronger—and therefore building more muscle—is knowing your limits. “What is your 3-rep, 5-rep, and 8-rep max for the compound lifts?” Alderton asks. “If you don’t know the answer to that, it could be part of your problem.”

Why? Because knowing these numbers will allow you to program smart workouts. Instead of blindly guessing how many reps you can complete on a certain lift with a certain weight, you’ll be able to select the appropriate load—and progressively increase it—from workout to workout. This kind of systematic tracking will help you get bigger and stronger for the long haul.

If you don’t already, Alderton recommends that you test your main-lift maxes every 2-3 months to monitor progress and ensure you’re lifting heavy enough during your day-to-day workouts. You might be stronger than you realize, but if you fail to test, you’ll never match your potential.

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Use a Workout Log

When it comes to making solid gains, tracking your training sessions is essential. “Make sure that you log your sets and reps, as well as the amount of weight you are lifting in each session,” Alderton insists.

Having a log to look at each time you hit the gym will not only inspire you to do your best, but it will allow you to double-check that you are, in fact, doing more than you did last workout. It’s hard to know where to go if you don’t know where you’ve been, so write down your sets and reps so you can beat them in your next session!

A photo posted by Jamie Alderton WBFF Pro (@grenadejay) on

If you don’t log your lifts or cardio sessions, it’s much harder to tell if you’re moving forward. And if you keep using the same weight day after day, you’re simply maintaining the status quo. A good workout log can help prevent this.


Fuel for Every Workout

Simply put, if you want to have a great workout, you have to fuel for peak performance. Training on empty can leave you feeling weak and underpowered during your workouts, and failing to fuel after a session can hamper your recovery and long-term growth.

So, what’s the perfect pre-workout meal? Well, that depends on your meal frequency and other factors, but a mix of complex carbohydrates and roughly 30 grams of lean protein 1-2 hours before you lift is ideal. Getting in another 20-30 grams of protein after you lift can spur muscle protein synthesis and help you build muscle over time, so don’t overlook either crucial period.


Limit Your Cardio Activity

Incorporating moderate-intensity cardio is great for improving your aerobic capacity and enhancing your ability to work hard for a prolonged period during weight training. However, when muscle size and strength are your top goals, more cardio isn’t always the best solution. If you do too much cardio, it can make it harder to achieve the size and strength gains you desire.

A photo posted by Jamie Alderton WBFF Pro (@grenadejay) on

Cardio places additional stress on the body, which means you have more to recover from, and it can sap calories that could have gone toward your muscle-building efforts.

To experience optimal muscle growth while training your heart, keep your cardio to 2-3 times per week and limited to 20-30 minutes per session at a low-moderate intensity.


Don’t Get Married to One Equipment Type

When it comes to lifting, remember that your body will respond best to a variety of stimuli. Avoid getting too focused on lifting with just one type of equipment at all times. You might favor barbells and dumbbells, but that doesn’t mean you should never lift using cables or weight machines.

A video posted by Jamie Alderton WBFF Pro (@grenadejay) on

Change up your routine every so often to place the muscles under a new type of stress.

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