As you enter your 50s, your body begins to go through changes that can affect the results you get from eating healthy and exercising. For example, your muscles can naturally start to weaken over time, which will make strength training crucial. But how can you optimize your journey to build stronger muscles in a healthy and sustainable way?
One of the changes you can make is to adopt daily eating habits that can help your body get stronger and build muscle when you exercise. For more on this, we asked Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD author of The Sports Nutrition Handbook and member of our expert medical board, and Courtney D’Angelo, MS, RD, author at go wellnessfor some advice.
Protein is an essential nutrient for building muscle and improving overall health, but getting enough of it throughout the day can be difficult.
“Protein is essential for both building and repairing lean muscle. And while many people think of protein at lunch and dinner, they often overlook it at breakfast and for snacks. The truth is, research supports eating about 30 grams of high-quality protein at each of your three main meals, and extra protein for snacks. That might look like 2 eggs, whole-grain toast, and 6 ounces of Greek yogurt with breakfast, a salad with 3-5 ounces of salmon or chicken, cheese, and vegetables with fruit for lunch, and steak and vegetable skewers with 3-5 ounces of beef and sautéed brown rice for dinner. then protein like string cheese, nuts, beef jerky and even protein bars at snack time,” says Goodson.
Not only is it important to get enough protein throughout the day, but getting enough after a workout is crucial to building muscle and getting results.
“Exercise damages muscle mass and dietary protein helps repair it to help build muscle. The goal is to eat a post-workout snack with 15-25 grams of high-quality protein (meaning that (it contains all the essential amino acids) as soon as you can after a workout, but definitely within 45 minutes after training. This helps kick-start the process of muscle resynthesis and also aids in recovery. This may look like a cow’s milk, Greek yogurt, and fruit smoothie, mixing 15-25 grams of protein powder in water and pairing with a fruit or cereal bar, or consuming a bar protein with the right amount of protein,” says Goodson.
Another important eating habit you can adopt to build strength from a workout is to make sure you’re getting enough whole grains, especially to replace refined carbs.
“One of the biggest benefits of whole grains is that they generally contain a good amount of protein. They also contain zinc, which helps build muscle, and magnesium, which can help with muscle recovery. Examples Whole-grain foods include whole-wheat bread, whole-wheat pasta, oatmeal, brown rice, and buckwheat A great habit to eat in the morning with whole grains can be to add protein powder of whey in your oatmeal,” says D’Angelo.
Another important part of building strong muscles is giving your body the nutrients it needs for proper recovery after a workout. Including enough antioxidants in your day can help.
“If you train hard, you are likely to experience exercise-induced muscle soreness. Although it can be frustrating and semi-uncomfortable, there are many recovery strategies that can help reduce muscle soreness, minimize exercise-induced muscle damage and speed muscle recovery,” Goodson says.
She also notes that “antioxidants are at the top of the list of nutrients that can help your body recover by helping your body fight or buffer free radicals, i.e. the bad guys, which damage cells. Y including foods and beverages like berries, orange vegetables and fruits, beets, spinach, tart cherry juice, 100% pomegranate juice and more can aid in muscle recovery to help your muscles stay strong and healthy health.”