Muscle loss is one of the most common issues women face as they age. With a few basic fitness tips, you can prevent muscle loss in the first place. Keep reading to find out how to maintain strong and healthy muscles.
Muscle loss can cause several issues, like decreased strength, poor mobility, poor balance, and a slower metabolism. It can also increase your risk of falling, breaking bones, and chronic illnesses.
But don’t worry; some great fitness tips can help you stop or slow down muscle loss and keep you healthy and happy.
What do you know about muscle loss?
It happens to everyone, but women are more likely to lose muscle than men because of their hormones and how much they don’t exercise.
Symptoms of muscle loss
Some common signs of muscle loss include:
- Feeling tired
- Reduced mobility
- Balance issues
- Loss of weight
- Increased risk of infections and diseases
Why do you lose muscle? What causes it? And how does it affect your health?
Muscle loss happens when your body breaks down muscle faster than it builds it back up. There are lots of things that can cause this, like:
- As women age, their levels of estrogen and testosterone decline, which can affect their muscle growth and maintenance.
- A sedentary lifestyle can lead to muscle atrophy or the wasting away of muscle tissue.
- A lack of protein, calories, or essential nutrients can impair your body’s ability to build and repair muscle.
- Conditions such as diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis, or cancer can cause inflammation, pain, or weakness that can interfere with muscle function.
Muscle loss can have severe consequences for your health and well-being. Some of the effects of muscle loss include:
- Reduced strength and endurance.
- Increased risk of falls and injuries.
- Decreased metabolism and weight gain.
- Impaired immune system and wound healing.
How to Measure Your Muscle Mass and Track Your Progress?
To prevent muscle loss, you need to know how much muscle mass you have and how it changes over time. There are several ways to measure your muscle mass, such as:
Body mass index (BMI)
BMI is a simple way to figure out how much body fat you have. It’s based on your height and body weight, but it doesn’t tell you how much fat and muscle you have. So, your BMI might be wrong if you’re very muscular or lean.
Body fat percentage
It is a more accurate way to measure your body fat percentage. You can use things like a skinfold caliper, BIA, or EXA to figure out how much of your weight is body fat and how much lean tissue. Generally, women’s body fat percentages range from 21-31%, depending on their age.
Skeletal muscle mass (SMM)
It is the most specific measurement that focuses on the amount of muscle attached to your bones. SMM can be measured by DEXA or BIA devices that use electrical currents or X-rays to estimate your muscle density.
Once you have a baseline muscle mass measurement, you can track your progress by repeating the same method every few months. You can also use other indicators such as:
You can use exercises such as push-ups, squats, or bench presses to measure how much weight you can lift or how many repetitions you can do.
You can use activities such as running, cycling, or swimming to measure how fast you can move or how long you can sustain a certain intensity.
You can use tasks such as standing up from a chair, walking up a flight of stairs, or balancing on one leg to measure how well you can perform daily activities.
9 Top Fitness Tips for Women to Prevent Muscle Loss
Are you a woman who wants to stay fit and healthy as you age? Do you want to prevent muscle loss and maintain your strength and mobility? If so, you must follow some fitness tips for women to help you achieve your goals.
Tip 1: Do resistance training at least twice a week
If you want to avoid muscle loss, resistance training is a great way to go. Resistance training is any workout that forces your muscles to work against something, like a weight, a band, or body weight.
It encourages your muscles to repair and grow, which helps you keep or build muscle. Plus, resistance training can also help improve bone density, your posture, your balance, and your coordination.
Some examples of resistance training exercises that you can do are:
- Dumbbell rows
- Bicep curls
- Triceps extensions
- Chest presses
- Shoulder presses
Your goal should be to perform resistance training at least twice or three times a week, targeting all major muscle groups in your body.
You can use various equipment, including dumbbells, kettlebells, barbells, resistance bands, or machine weights. You can also perform bodyweight exercises, including planks, bridges, and wall sits.
Resistance training is vital to pushing your muscles with enough volume and intensity. Choose a weight or level of resistance that allows you to do 8 to 15 reps per set with proper form and technique.
Expect to feel some muscle fatigue by the end of every set. The rest between sets should be around 60 to 90 seconds.
Tip 2: Eat Enough Protein
Another thing you can do to help prevent muscle loss in women is to make sure you’re getting enough protein in your diet.
Protein is what makes up your muscle tissue and other body parts. It gives your muscles the amino acids to repair and grow after exercise. Plus, it helps you feel fuller and more satisfied after eating, which stops you from overeating and having cravings.
Some examples of protein-rich foods that you can eat are:
- Lean meat
- Dairy products
- Soy products
Try to eat between 0.8 and 1.2g of protein per kg of your body weight daily. It all depends on how active you are and what you’re trying to achieve. It’s also a good idea to spread your protein intake so you don’t get too much in one meal.
Aim for 20-30g of protein in each meal and snack. That’s about the same amount of protein you’d get if you had a bag of meat, a bag of fish, a bag of eggs, a bag of yogurt, a bag of cheese, or a bag of beans.
Protein supplements are a great way to get more protein, but don’t count on them as your go-to source. Whole foods are the way to get the most nutrition and health benefits.
Tip 3: Stay hydrated
Another easy but effective way for women to avoid muscle loss is to stay hydrated. Water plays a vital role in your body’s functions, such as muscle contractions, blood flow, digestion, and temperature control.
It also helps your body flush toxins and other waste products out of your body, improving your recovery and muscle performance.
Drink 2 liters (or more) of water daily, especially if you’re working out or sweating a lot. Of course, you can drink other fluids, such as herbal tea, juice, smoothies, or sports drinks. Just make sure you don’t drink alcohol, caffeine, or sugary beverages that dehydrate you.
Tip 4: Get enough sleep
If you want to stay fit and prevent muscle loss, women need to get enough sleep. Sleep is when your body works to repair and regenerate itself, which includes your muscles. It also helps you keep your hormones in check, your mood in the statement, your appetite in check, and your immune system in check.
However, not getting enough sleep can lead to muscle breakdown and inflammation, stress and fatigue, and even cravings. Ensure you get at least seven hours of sleep a night, or even more if you’re tired or sore!
To get the most out of your sleep, follow a good sleep schedule, don’t use screens or stimulants before bed, make sure your bedroom is comfortable and dark, and relax before bed.
Tip 5: Manage your stress levels
If you want to stay fit and prevent muscle loss, one of the most essential fitness tips for women is managing your stress levels. We all naturally respond to stress when we’re in challenging situations.
Still, if you’re chronically stressed, it can mess with your body and your mind. For example, it can increase your cortisol levels, which is the hormone that helps break down your muscles and store fat.
It can also mess with your appetite, digestion, mood, motivation, and immune system. The best way to manage your stress is to figure out what’s causing it and find ways to manage it healthily.
You can do this by doing relaxation techniques like breathing exercises, doing meditation, doing yoga, or getting a massage.
Tip 6: Do Cardiovascular Exercise
Suppose you’re a woman looking to stay fit and prevent muscle loss. In that case, cardiovascular exercise is a great way to do it. Any exercise makes your heart rate and your breathing rate go down.
Whether running, biking, swimming, or even dancing, it’s a great way to keep your heart healthy and your weight and body composition in check.
Cardiovascular exercise helps lower your blood pressure, cholesterol, and risk of heart disease, stroke, and other heart-related issues. Plus, it enables you to burn calories and fat to stay healthy.
Some examples of cardiovascular exercise that you can do are:
It’s a good idea to do some cardio at least three or four times a week for around 20-30 minutes each time. Depending on your fitness and goals, you can change the intensity and length of your workouts. Plus, you can mix up the types of cardio you do to keep it fun and different.
The main thing is to find something you like that fits your lifestyle. Cardio can be done outside or inside, on your own or with friends, in the mornings or evenings, and you can use different apps or devices to keep track of your progress and get motivated.
Tip 7: Eat Enough Calories
If you want to avoid muscle loss, the number one tip for women is to ensure you’re eating enough calories. Calories are the energy your body needs to do everything it does, like breath, digest, move, and think.
They also help your muscles grow and get stronger after you exercise. But if you’re not eating enough, your body starts to break down the muscles and other stuff to ensure enough energy. It can cause you to lose power and slow down your metabolism.
Some examples of calorie-dense foods that you can eat are:
- Olive oil
- Coconut oil
- Dried fruits
Your calorie intake should be between 2,000 and 2,500 calories per day. Your calorie intake should depend on your age, height, weight, activity level, and goals.
Your calorie expenditure should also depend on your calorie intake. Your calorie expenditure should be more or less based on how much exercise and movement you do throughout the day.
You can use an online calculator or app to determine how many calories you need daily and track your calorie needs. Measure your portions with a food scale, measuring cup, or spoon to ensure you’re eating enough.
Don’t be afraid to count calories or weigh everything you eat. Listen to your hunger/satiety cues and eat as your body tells you to.
Tip 8: Eat Enough Carbohydrates
If you want to avoid muscle loss, you must ensure you’re eating enough carbs. Carbs are the primary fuel your body and brain need. They also help ensure your muscles have enough glycogen to fuel your muscle use while working out.
When you don’t get enough carbs, your body starts using your muscles and other parts of your body as an extra source of energy, which can cause muscle loss and fatigue. Here are eight fitness tips for women to help prevent muscle loss.
Some examples of carbohydrate-rich foods that you can eat are:
- Whole grains
- Starchy vegetables
Try getting about 45-65% of your calories from carbs daily. That’s about 225-325 grams of carbs for every 2000 calories you eat. It’s also a good idea to opt for complex carbs instead of simple ones because they have more fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Complex carbohydrates have a low glycemic index (GI), raising your blood sugar levels slowly and steadily. Simple carbohydrates have a high GI, which spikes your blood sugar levels quickly and sharply.
Some examples of complex carbohydrates are:
- Brown rice
- Whole wheat bread
- Whole wheat pasta
Some examples of simple carbohydrates are:
- White bread
- White rice
- White pasta
If you want to get the most out of your workouts, eating a lot of carbs right before and after your workout is a good idea. That way, you’ll be better prepared to perform and recover. Aim for about 1-4 grams of carbs per kg of your body weight 1-4 hours before your workout and around 1-2 grams per kg of carbs per kg after 30 minutes.
You can also take a sports drink, gel, or bar to help you get more carbs around your workouts. But don’t count on them as your go-to source of carbs. Always stick to whole foods since they have more nutrients and are better for you.
Tip 9: Rest and recover
The last but not most minor tip for women is to rest and recover to avoid muscle loss. It’s all about allowing your body to heal and rebuild after exercise.
It is vital for muscle growth and recovery. Plus, it can help you avoid overtraining, injury, burnout, and even boredom. So, if you’re feeling sore or tired, try taking at least a day off a week or more from exercise.
You can do this by walking, stretching, or swimming. Or, you can use a recovery tool like a foam roller, ice pack, or compression garment.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I measure my muscle mass?
If you want to know how much muscle you have, you can look at things like your BMI, how much body fat you have, your waist circumference, and your BIA. You can also look at how defined, toned, and shaped your muscles are.
How long does it take to build muscle?
The time it takes to build muscle depends on various factors such as your age, gender, genetics, fitness level, nutrition, training program, and recovery. Generally speaking, you can expect changes in your muscle mass within 4 to 6 weeks of consistent resistance training.
How can I prevent muscle loss during menopause?
If you’re going through menopause, you don’t have to worry about losing muscle. Follow these tips for women to help you stay fit and prevent muscle loss. Plus, you can talk to your doctor about getting HRT or other treatments to help keep your hormones balanced and help with the menopause symptoms.
Muscle loss is one of the most common issues women face as they age. However, it doesn’t have to be this way. With the right fitness tips, you can prevent muscle loss in the first place.
Follow these nine tips for women to maintain strong and healthy muscles and reap the benefits of a healthy and active lifestyle.