If you’re hitting those strength training machines and loading up on protein, but can’t see results, it might be your behaviour outside the gym that’s undermining your efforts and even causing you to store fat. Luckily, we have solutions: Here, experts share a quick guide to muscle loss, to make your search a bit easier.
You need fish
Who cares if you’re that person at work opening the tin of tuna. You have to eat oily fish, like salmon or halibut, or you’ll miss out on heart-healthy and muscle-building omega 3 fatty acids, according to Jennifer Novak, MS, CSCS, a kinesiologist and National Strength and Conditioning Association strength and conditioning specialist.
Novak explains: “Omega 3 fatty acids can help improve insulin sensitivity in the muscle cells and therefore improve the muscles’ ability to utilise the protein you eat. And, by improving insulin sensitivity, the omega-3s can also help the body’s ability to reduce muscle protein breakdown,” she says, citing findings that come from a 2014 study in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism.
You need a place in the sun
The best source of vitamin D is sun exposure, and if you’re not getting any or taking D supplements, you could start to lose muscle. “Vitamin D has long been promoted for its role in calcium absorption for the support of bone health,” says Novak, “but it also has a role in building muscle mass.” What’s more, your D absorption weakens with age, says Novak, and you need to be extra vigilant about meeting the dietary requirements as you get older.
Try to get some sun on your face and arms for a few minutes as often as possible, and speak to a doctor about having your vitamin D levels tested – you might need a supplement. Checking your levels could help resolve the confusion, as it’s pretty common to be deficient in vitamin D.