While many people associate protein intake with maintaining muscle size, a newly released study by US Agricultural Research Service (ARS)- funded scientists suggests that it is fruits and vegetables – not proteins or cereal grains – that preserve muscle mass in older men and women. The typical Western diet is rich in protein, cereal grains and other acid-forming foods. In general, this diet generates tiny amounts of acid each day. With aging, a mild but slowly increasing metabolic “acidosis” develops, according to the ARS researchers. Acidosis appears to trigger a muscle-wasting response.
The research team looked at links between measures of lean body mass and diets relatively high in potassiun-rich, alkaline -residue producing, fruits and vegetables. Such diets could help neutralize acidosis. (Foods can be considered alkaline or acidic based on the residues they produce in the body, rather than whether they are alkaline or acidic themselves. For example, acidic grapefruit are metabolized to alkaline residues.)
The researchers conducted an analysis of a subset of nearly 400 male and female volunteers aged 65 and older. The volunteers’ physical activity, height and weight, and percentage of lean body mass were measured at the start of the study and again, after three years. Their urinary potassium was measured and their dietary data collected.
Volunteers whose diets were rich in potassium – that is-, high in fruits and vegetables – showed an average of 3.6 more pounds of lean tissue mass than volunteers with half that levels of potassium intake. That almost offsets the 4.4 pounds of lean tissue that is typically lost in a decade in healthy men and women aged 65 and above, according to the study authors.
Other important nutrients to consider when focusing on building muscle mass or increasing metabolism are calcium and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA)
Increasing your consumption of produce, calcium-rich foods and adding a CLA supplement to your daily routine will help you not only increase your muscle mass, but also stay healthy and increase longevity.
If you want to find out exactly how to maximize your diet in terms of fat/muscle ratio, consider my FLT Program; for more info, call the office at 905-884-7965.