Guys, if you want to beef up your muscles and keep them strong, try eating an extra-lean burger after your workout. Middle-aged men looking to maintain muscle as they age may need even more meat than some current health guidelines recommend, according to new research published in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism.
Researchers at the Exercise Metabolism Research Group at McMaster University looked at 35 middle-aged men (around 59 years of age), and found that six-ounce servings of 85 percent lean ground beef had better results for maintaining muscle mass than the three-ounce portions recommended in Canada’s Food Guide. (The USDA similarly recommends two to three ounces of meat per serving.)
The researchers looked to see how much meat was needed for “muscle protein synthesis,” a process that helps repair, maintain and grow skeletal muscle. What the researchers found was that while the smaller portions of red meat might prevent protein deficiency, they don’t necessarily preserve muscle mass—something that’s important for men looking to prevent muscle loss as they age.
Previous findings published in Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care show that 25 to 30 grams of protein per meal prevent sarcopenia, a progressive disease where lean muscle mass is reduced by three to eight percent each decade after the age of 30.
Red meat consumption appears to be associated with an increased risk of mortality, according to a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
However, the study was not without its critics. It was an observational study, rather than one with a control group, and the dietary data came from questionnaires filled out infrequently. Whether a more rigorous study of the same magnitude and scale would report similar findings remains to be seen.
Other studies show that red meat may protect the heart. Thirty-six participants in a 2012 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition lowered their “bad” (LDL) cholesterol by 10 percent while eating four to five-and-a-half ounces of lean beef per day.
Sizzling steaks and hamburgers aren’t the only meats that help build and maintain muscles.
About ten to 35 percent of your daily calories should come from protein, according to the Mayo Clinic. If you consume 2000 calories a day, you’ll want to eat about 50 to 175 grams of protein a day. A three-ounce serving has about 25 grams of protein.
To get more specific, the minimum RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) for protein for both adult men and women is .8 grams per kilogram of body weight. Simply take your body weight in pounds, divide it by 2.2, and that’s how many grams of protein you need. For example, a 150-pound adult would need 54 grams of protein a day, or about 6 ounces of lean meat or poultry.
More ways for macho men to stay strong as they age include these science-based strategies.
Before beginning a new exercise regimen, make sure to discuss it with your doctor, who can offer individualized guidance.
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