NY Times article explains that maintaining muscle mass may make elderly people better able to function independently.
An 80-year-old might have 30 percent less muscle mass than a 20-year-old…. geriatric specialists, in particular, are now trying to establish the age-related loss of muscles as a medical condition under the name sarcopenia, from the Greek for loss of flesh. Simply put, sarcopenia is to muscle what osteoporosis is to bone.
Causes of the loss of muscle mass or strength might include hormonal changes, sedentary lifestyles, oxidative damage, infiltration of fat into muscles, inflammation and resistance to insulin. Some problems stem from the brain and nervous system, which activate the muscles.
Experts say the best approach to restoring or maintaining muscle mass and strength is exercise, particularly resistance training.
There is also some early evidence that nutrition, like vitamin D or high levels of protein, might help. “At this point, what we can say is that older people are at risk for eating too little protein for adequate muscle preservation,”
For me, a diet with more protein and less fat and less simple carbs, and an exercise program consisting of half aerobic and half resistance training have been the keys to weight loss and maintenance.