I've read that you start to lose muscle mass as you age. I have been eating 90 to 95% paleo for several months now and have lost weight and have improved overall health. I am running approx. 12 miles a week at a 7-8 min. per mile pace, 60 push-ups/sit-ups 3X a week and lifting weights (bench press and nautilus type machines 2X a week), but really appear to be struggling with adding muscle mass and definition. I struggle with digestive illness and have a family hx. of diabetes and want to add muscle to improve insulin sensitivity. Any suggestions with my work out would be appreciated. My diet primarily consists of salmon, eggs, bacon, spinach and carrots for breakfast. I will eat a salad and nuts for lunch and dinner consists of protein and vegetables. I will occassionally eat Lara bars. In the evening I will eat 2 servings of fruit (banana and berries) plus 2 almond flour muffins which I make following SCD recipe.
Yup, it's called sarcopenia. Even worse is also the osteopenia (bone loss).
Go easy on the running, switch to short distance sprinting instead, and go with heavier resistance training instead. Running is chronic cardio and while makes you super lean, it also burns away anything that's not used, and keeps muscles from getting stronger and larger. Basically it's a firesale, everything body-tissue wise, except for the few muscles used for running must go. That also includes burning out stem cells and puts your heart in danger.
But yeah, while 12 miles/week doesn't sound like a too much, if you're already leaned out, it's time to relax on it.
If you have digestive issues, maybe it's not wise to do 90%-95% paleo. Maybe you should go 100%. If you're getting any irritants like grains or legumes in that 5% of non-compliance, you're still going to get gut issues. It's going to take at least 30 days of absolutely no grains to get the damage to start to reverse.
Switch to more weight lifting and work yourself up towards heavier and less volume. Make sure you get a day or two of rest inbetween and enough animal protein (grassfed beef, bison, etc.) especially on the rest days. And don't do any other exercise on the rest days. Nothing other than maybe a walk.
Stay away from protein powders, esp. since you say there's a history of diabetes to worry about. Doing IF is also good for getting your insulin sensitivity up, but be careful to not over do it. Working out fasted with a 12pm-8pm eating window is a good way to do this, but it sounds like you're already lean, so don't over do it, or at least be sure to get enough calories from fat.
Creatine and BCAAs help too. Creatine does add bulk through holding on to water at first, but you can ignore that. Something like a teaspoon or two a week spread out is enough for the loading phase, then much less. BCAAs at about 10mg/day helps signal muscle gain before workouts, and 2x on days you do IF (once at waking, another 15mins before workout.)
Im in my 40's also and battle to gain muscle weight. In 10 weeks of palaeo with low cardio but heavy weights i've lost 10% body fat (down to 13%) and gained 2 lbs of muscle. I've learned it takes time, so be patient. See Mark's post below. Need to eat LOTS of clean protein.
What you describe you currently eat doesn't sound like a whole lot of food.
Eat some protein and carbs with each meal and try to get at least 3000 cals(maybe more or less depending on current weight and goals).
If your just focused on adding mass drop the cardio and body-weight exercises or at least increase the intesity by adding weight or doing harder stuff like diamond pushups etc.
If you have digestive issues drop the nuts and make sure to cook your vegetables really good. Salad+nuts is a digestion nightmare in my experience.
If you want to increase insulin sensitivity make sure your getting enough carbs. I would avoid IF'ing especially if your looking to gain.
Long slow distances are seriously going to stunt your muscle growth. You need to be sprinting, lifting heavy (preferably olympic lifting), and eating a ton of protein.
Eat up to 2.5 your body weight and eat your carbs strictly after your weight training(insulin spike will help muscle growth). Also, try a little teaspoon of creatine before you go to bed.
I know you mentioned some gut health stuff but I would try to down some whey protein if your body can handle it. If you're doing all this and you're doing it consistently you'll be looking like Hugh Jackman from Wolverine and walking around like a serious beast.
Oh yeah, dead lift and squat often, but get a little coaching on form before you attempt heavy loads.
Ok, I guess I'm a mutant because at 64 I easily gain/lose muscle tone based on my activity level.
Walking 3 miles every other day produces very hard muscle tone in my legs and a very springy step that feels GREAT!
Chopping chicken wings up for my dogs and cats produces a suprising level of muscle tone in my arms and shoulders and I feel muscles flexing with every movement.
NOT doing those things for a month causes those feelings to disappear, but they easily come back when I resume the activities.
Why is it so easy for me? I was very active in my youth so maybe my body "remembers" how to be muscular? Otherwise, I don't know what's different since we're all eating ancestrally, so I guess it's genetics.
A late post, but to the OP and others in a similar position
1) You will not gain lean muscle mass easily with that routine, throw in deadlifts or squats and concentrate mainly on those (I prefer deadlifts as it covers more body parts leading to a more balanced body) and watch your muscle mass and other lifts take off.
2) I would suggest digestive enzymes, way better than protein powder and other rubbish, your body is probably not fully utilising the nutrients in the food.
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