As we age, we lose substantial muscle mass. It is not uncommon to lose 35-50% muscle mass and strength by age 70 compared to that at age 25. This is especially true if you have been relatively physical inactive, have suffered chronic inflammatory diseases, have substantial visceral fat, have low testosterone, or have lost and regained weight over the years. This last item—weight loss followed by regain—is common: Lose, say, 30 pounds. About 1/3 of that loss is muscle, 2/3 fat, meaning you have lost around 10 pounds of muscle. Regain the 30 pounds, it’s all fat. You can imagine how destructive this can be in reducing muscle mass if you go through a weight loss/regain cycle several times in a lifetime.
Rebuilding muscle is therefore a good idea. By doing so, you can expect to:
- Physically maneuver more capably–e.g., getting into and out of cars, airline seats, climb stairs, play with kids and grandkids, etc.
- Be less prone to falls and injury
- Be metabolically advantaged–with higher HDL, lower triglycerides, less insulin resistance
- Enjoy higher levels of growth hormone
- Increase testosterone that, in turn, facilitates more muscle growth (though the effect is variable)
- Decrease cortisol that causes muscle loss, fat weight gain, and heightens type 2 diabetes and dementia risk
- Increase bone density–Since bone density tracks muscle mass.
How to build muscle?
Start with ALL the components of the Undoctored Wild, Naked, Unwashed program, as each and every component make a contribution. Wheat and grain elimination, for instance, helps normalize the several hormonal distortions that can allow depleted muscle mass, especially as visceral fat is lost. Vitamin D has its own “trophic,” i.e., muscle growth, effects and restoration to desired levels (we aim for 60-70 ng/ml) helps rebuild muscle. Reducing inflammatory effects from disrupted bowel flora through our efforts that include a high-potency, multi-species probiotic, enthusiastic consumption of fermented foods, and prebiotic fibers also make a contribution.
But there are several additional strategies that you can use to accelerate/amplify muscle building effects. These include:
Strength training–I am a big fan of strength training. If you are new to strength training, it is worth obtaining basic instruction from an experienced trainer to avoid injuring your lower back, shoulders, etc. that can be easy to do when performing, say, dead-lifts or overhead presses. Combine strength training with the Undoctored Wild, Naked, Unwashed strategies and some of the strategies cited below (especially L. reuteri yogurt) and substantial gains in muscle mass and strength can be achieved in short order. And strength training does not have to involve spending hours in the gym. I go to the gym, for instance, once or twice per week for about 15 minutes.
Creatine supplementation–Five grams per day (after an optional “loading” period of 20 grams per day for several days) of creatine monohydrate (the most widely available and inexpensive form) accelerates muscle growth and increased strength. It is accompanied by substantial fluid retention, so be aware that the weight gain that occurs is a combination of water retention and muscle. Because the muscle-growth benefits are short-lived, e.g., a week or two, many people get better results by “cycling” their creatine doses, e.g., on for one week, off for one week.
Hydroxymethylbutyrate (HMB)–Though a modest effect, HMB can also help in combination with creatine. Like creatine, the effect is transient and typically effective only for the first few days. The dose is typically 3000 mg per day.
Oxytocin augmentation–My new favorite, we achieve increased oxytocin by cultivating the probiotic species Lactobacillus reuteri, specifically the ATCC PTA 6475 and DSM 17938 strains, and increasing bacterial counts by making prebiotic-infused yogurt. The increase in muscle mass and strength can be considerable. One member of the Undoctored Inner Circle told me that his bench press weight increased by 40 pounds almost overnight by following this strategy. Oxytocin, in addition to its own muscle growth effects, can also markedly increase testosterone levels in males (no data in females on testosterone), another way to increase muscle.
Rebuilding muscle is a natural way to further regain control over health. It further dials back the metabolic and physical disadvantages that develop from, say, prior wheat and grain consumption, sugar, the inflammation of visceral fat and dysbiosis, and the health impairment of abnormally heightened cortisol.