Building muscle after menopause is not only possible, but also necessary!
Unless you’ve been a bodybuilder, or avid weightlifter and eating a high protein diet, and dialed both those up during perimenopause, chances are you have lost muscle tissue since your 30s.
That means a loss of fat burning potential and a slower metabolism. The most powerful positive impact of muscle on your postmenopausal health is the ability it allows you to burn more calories at any activity around the clock. Another positive super power of muscle is its ability to control blood sugar levels. With more muscle, you would have better blood sugar control thanks to the muscle being a bigger bank to store sugar for energy later. Without it, you only have the liver, which can easily become “full” and overloaded, leaving blood sugar levels higher longer. During those times you’re driving inflammation up and storing fat.
Questions We Answer:
Building Muscle After Menopause Takes Focus
Without consciously paying attention to preserving muscle at least, and gaining muscle at best, you may have “exercised” but without measurable results.
That brings me to something we have to first address… measuring. I’ll link to three unique smart scales to choose from. I believe everyone should have one at home. Weight is inconclusive and can lead you to believe you’re making positive change. In fact, weight loss that is a high percent of muscle is a detriment to your metabolism and ability to burn fat.
To gain muscle postmenopausal (and better yet, during or before so you’re simply adjusting your dose of exercise as you proceed through menopause) you have 5 ingredients. These 5 items are crucial and… it’s like love, faith, and charity.. the greatest of these is… See if you can guess.
1) Lift weights
2) Eat protein
3) Take EAA
5) Recovery between sets, workouts, stressors
To muscular temporary fatigue
Heavy is best, but if you’re limited by conditions or joints, light and more reps
More is not better. Hearing people say, I lift weights every day or 4 days a week, is not a good thing. In midlife and beyond the need for recovery ramps up as quickly as does the need for a stimulus that surpasses what younger you needed.
Eat your ideal body weight in pounds in grams of protein a day.
Dosed in at least 30 grams of protein each meal or snack
Bookend your workouts and continue consciously boosting for 24 hours after
If you’re not getting adequate dietary protein, supplementing with EAA is a logical first next step. To reduce confusion on supplementation, BCAA and EAA are not the same. A select few amino acids are classified as BCAA. If you’re supplementing because you’re not consuming enough through food alone, you need all of the EAAs, not just BCAA.
If you’re of body builder status, eating protein around the clock, hitting your number with high quality protein, then supplementing with BCAA may be something you want to consider.
The one amino acid that seems to always outweigh others for muscle gain is leucine. While you can get adequate leucine in meals (at least 2.5 ideal and at least 5g/day) if you’re eating animal-based protein, it’s not reasonable to expect you will with plant sources alone or even heavily reliant on plant sources.
Sleep is queen of recovery and if you’re not, your cortisol, testosterone, and growth hormone all suffer. These are a part of your team for muscle building.
Cortisol acts to break down muscle. After a single night of sleep deprivation, your body is working against you. If you’re a push hard through no matter how you feel woman…. It’s likely worse. Chronic cortisol issues, whether high or too low are not the Goldilocks you need.
Testosterone and Growth Hormone are both crucial hormones for muscle growth (or preservation). They’re released in deepest cycles of sleep. So, you’re woken up regularly by menopause, low blood sugar, an aging dog, teenagers, or a snoring partner? You’ve got to take steps to solve this one. Whether that’s sleep apnea machine, a different bedroom, select nights when you can catch up on sleep or it’s a focused menopause sleep plan, make it a priority.
Recovery, or Rest, Occurs in multiple places:
Between sets (even repetitions)
Between all stressors
The Mental Game of Gaining Muscle vs Losing Weight
Flipping 50 offers a 12-week strength training program built for women in menopause. Nowhere in the description of it does it promise weight loss. However, there usually is a change of body composition and of inches, even if not in weight. Yet occasionally a woman will say, because of decades of conditioning that exercise burns calories and the reason to do it is weight loss, will say, “I haven’t…