Role of exercise and nutrition in the prevention of sarcopenia

picture with an apple that reminds the concept of healthy diet, and sneakers and small weights for physical activity


Sarcopenia is the age-associated loss of skeletal muscle mass (the muscles connecting bones and joints) and strength that develops slowly over decades and becomes a significant factor for disability among the elderly population. The mechanisms that trigger sarcopenia have not been clarified yet, but they are likely to be multiple and  they all appear to results in the loss of skeletal muscle mass.

This means that it is important to try to promote muscle formation. Nutrient intake, especially proteins and amino acids (proteins are formed by amino acids linked together), is the most important stimulus for the muscle formation.

A previous study has indicated that the stimulating action of amino acids on muscle formation occurs mainly because of essential amino acids (amino acids that the body can’t produce in a sufficient amount to cope its need, so have to be taken with the diet). The most involved  essential amino acids in the direct stimulation of the muscle formation is leucine (examples of leucine sources are stockfish, pumpkin seeds, pecorino cheese, soy, anchovies, tuna, chicken, turkey, calf, pork, beans and lentils).

Resistance exercise (for example arm or leg curls with a little weights on wrists and ankles) is another potent stimulus for the muscles formation. The muscle increases within 2–3 hours after a single bout of resistance exercise and remains higher for up to 24 hours in trained individuals and up to 48 hours in untrained subjects.

 The combination of exercise and nutrition is the better way to improve the muscle formation, indeed the provision of essential amino following resistance exercise increases the muscle formation. Studies have shown that the ingestion of whole proteins (i.e. protein that contains all the 9 essential amino acids, example of source are eggs and meat) following an acute bout of resistance exercise augments  muscle formation. Proteins eaten 1hour after the strength exercise are more efficient for the muscle formation respect the assumption of proteins before the physical training.

LINK TO THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE :  Makanae Y. and Fujita S., “Role of the exercise and nutrition in the prevention of sarcopenia”. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol, 2015;61 Suppl:S125-7