Believe it or not, women start losing muscle mass as early as their twenties. By age 30, the average woman will lose 3-5% of her muscle over the next decade. Why should you as a woman be concerned about this? Well, Muscle is important for a lot of reason such as a fast metabolism, controlling weight gain, as well as power, endurance and strength to perform our daily activities. Additionally, muscle helps keep us looking toned, shapely and beautiful. If you’re trying to lose weight and you’re only doing cardio and you’re not doing anything that works the major muscles of your body, then your workouts are not going to be nearly as effective in terms of your weight loss goal. You HAVE to add some sort of strength training to build muscle. The more muscle you have, the more your body needs to use calories to feed your muscle, so even while you are at a resting state or sleeping, you will be burning calories! If you’re not trying to lose weight, you still need to build muscle or at least maintain muscle if you want to avoid a resting metabolism, bone deterioration, insulin resistance, and other health factors that are linked to illnesses such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
I think many women are apprehensive about “building muscle” for fear of turning into the Hulk! The reality is that, unless you are lifting weights for hours a day and consuming massive amounts of protein, as a woman, you will not get bulky like a man does. Men naturally have a higher muscle content, plus testosterone and even still, they have to work out for years to look like “The Rock.” So stop imagining yourself bulking up and start thinking about building muscle in order to maintain overall health and beauty.
Resistance training a few times a week in combination with a healthy diet can make a huge difference in women that are starting to lose muscle mass or that are trying to prevent muscle loss. Additionally, getting enough protein in your diet is essential to preventing muscle loss. On average, a woman should consume an average of .75 g – 1 g of protein per pound of her bodyweight per day (for a very overweight woman, the number of grams of protein should be measured by her ideal weight, not her current weight). So in other words, for myself personally, my weight it usually around 125 lbs, so I need to consume anywhere from 100-125 grams of protein per day, just to maintain my current muscle. Generally if I consume less than 100 grams of protein, I’m starving by the end of the day! Even on a day that I don’t exercise, my body still burns a significant amount of calories because I’m fairly toned and I need to eat about 100 grams, just to avoid hunger. On days where I’m working out, I need to eat 125 grams or more of protein. Where do I get that much protein in a day? There are numerous sources of protein that you can include in your diet. I will get into sources of protein more in another post. The most important things I hope you can away from this are that 1. you need to maintain muscle in order to maintain overall health, and 2. the ways you maintain muscle are through strength training (resistance training) and consuming enough protein on a daily basis.