Recent studies (since 2019) provide more clues about the effects of hormones on muscle:
- The ability to build it
- The loss of it
Plus, in this episode I provide suggestions on what to do that is also noted by science as proven protocols.
Treating women post menopause with either a placebo or estradiol, the estradiol subjects increased their muscle mass. Adequate exercise is also important: estradiol without proper exercise is less likely to increase lean muscle. It might help slow the rate of losses otherwise associated with age.
Remember that muscle loss associated with age, are “associated with age” because the current existing science on lifting heavy weight well into 7th, 8th, and 9th decades is lacking. Studies on weightlifting for the oldest of old are minimal. Those that do exist, are promising. Even moderate, consistent weight training, and protein supplementation continues to improve lean muscle in elderly.
We will be the first generation who do lift heavy weights into older age.
The loss of estrodiol was directly associated with a lack of muscle when there was no additional stimulus for muscle. What is proven to decrease or prevent muscle loss?
- Lifting heavier weight, to muscle fatigue
- Eating higher levels of (and) higher quality complete proteins
- While reducing stressors
- Hormone replacement therapy
Ko J, Park YM. Menopause and the Loss of Skeletal Muscle Mass in Women. Iran J Public Health. 2021 Feb;50(2):413-414. doi: 10.18502/ijph.v50i2.5362. PMID: 33748008; PMCID: PMC7956097.
Lean body mass is negatively associated with incident VMS. Our data suggests that maintaining higher levels of LBM during the menopausal transition may be protective against the development of VMS. Every woman will experience menopause in her life and the ability to potentially prevent the onset of specific symptoms through basic interventions, such as resistance training to increase lean body mass, may positively impact this large population.
Reduce VMS (hot flashes and night sweats) with increased levels of lean body mass.
Woods, R., Hess, R., Biddington, C. et al. Association of lean body mass to menopausal symptoms: The Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation. womens midlife health 6, 10 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40695-020-00058-9
PLUS, STUDY #3
During menopause women have a reduced fatty oxidation during exercise than women pre-menopause. Suggesting the best time to start is in pre-menopause.. the next best time is peri.. or wherever you are if you’re not exercising.
Gould, Lacey M. MA1; Gordon, Amanda N. BS1; Cabre, Hannah E. MS, RDN1, 2; Hoyle, Andrew T. BS1; Ryan, Eric D. PhD2, 3; Hackney, Anthony C. PhD, DSc2, 4; Smith-Ryan, Abbie E. PhD1, 2, 4 Metabolic effects of menopause: a cross-sectional characterization of body composition and exercise metabolism, Menopause: April 2022 – Volume 29 – Issue 4 – p 377-389
Muscle in menopause is not as sensitive to the protein you eat, therefore you need more of it than you have in the past. (And there is evidence we’ve been undereating protein for a long time, following guidelines determined for 18 yr. olds going to war to prevent disease).
During perimenopause adjusting a diet to higher protein and lower carbohydrate (keeping resistant starches however)
HERMAN PONTZER, et al., SCIENCE, 13 Aug 2021, Vol 373, Issue 6556, pp. 808-812
Collins et al., 2019, Cell Reports 28, 268-381, July 9, 2019 © The Author(s). https://doi.org/1016/j.celrep.2019.06.025
IN THE ABSENCE of SPECIFIC MUSCLE BUILDING ACTIVITIES and as estrogen declines….
Muscle loss will occur.
You have control over specific muscle building activities:
- Lifting heaviest weights you can to muscle fatigue every set
- Eating the minimum dose-stimulus of highest quality protein
- Ensuring your gut health
The reason you hear that metabolism slows and fat increases, muscle wains… is that few women are lifting weights in a way that overloads their muscles. We’ve never seen it. Imagine your mother right now. I’ll take a stab and say she’s in her 80s or approaching or 90s or she’s passed.
Did she ever lift?
Imagine your older sisters and your sister-in-laws. Did they lift?
But they gained weight, they experienced fatigue, lack of muscle tone…. And why?
They did what was provided to them. And it was “moderate exercise.” The older they got the more encouraged they were to be careful, not to exert too much, or strain.
Phooey… They also (to give you an analogy).. very few of them used computers at a very high level. Maybe they’ve played solitaire, learned to Facetime or use Facebook with their families. And you and I? We’re not going to stop, are we? We’ll use them until we die.
Similarly, if you begin lifting now… at whatever age that is for you… you will gain strength beyond anything a prior generation experienced, beyond what you have now, and improve your body composition and quality of life as you age.
You’re going to resist the unknown. You’re going to be a lone ranger in the weight room at the gym. Look, every time I go to a gym, I attract looks when I grab the dumbbells and perform sprints on the treadmill. Those looks come from women following their partners around, and from young men picking up lighter weights than I am, and from older men, I hear, “You work hard.” As if… I shouldn’t or it’s different. Because it is. Few women work very hard.
And fewer, eat enough to grow muscle after. After a couple years of regular lifting and exercise… did you know? You must have a caloric surplus in order to gain muscle mass.
Oh, you may gain some strength up to a point, but if you’re fasting all the time, eating one meal a day or even two… do you think you’re going to gain muscle? Think again. You’re causing your body stress… and low energy availability during and post exercise won’t allow muscle building.
Especially in women beyond menopause.
Lift heavy. Eat higher protein and overall calorie levels that allow muscle gain. Keep your stress levels (all sources) low.
From this you have questions..
- How to start lifting safely
- What a diet that is micronutrient-rich, high protein, and void of food sensitivities looks like
- How to manage a gut experiencing bloat, gas, irregularity
- Where your walking, yoga, intervals fit in….
And I’ve got answers.
I’ll drop a few of them in the show notes. Right now(July 1-15) the Café membership is open. Workouts that are based on protocols for women in menopause are the #1 reason women log into their memberships every week. And… they come back for expert interviews, masterclasses that deep dive into the science on topics you care most about, mini courses so that answers to your highest priority challenge are at your fingertips whenever you want them, and recipes that put Flipping50 -approved food on the table quickly and flavorfully.
I’ll add a few more links to this episode show notes too in case we’re closed. Never do we want someone sitting waiting.
I’m a science girl who wants to cut through the junk and find the effective way to get fit not hurt. So, I use science -featuring you – to determine the effects of hormones on exercise and vice versa. This is the 1st, and only exclusively made-for-menopause fitness membership in the world.
The Flipping 50 Membership: https://www.flippingfifty.com/cafe
The 5 Day Flip: https://www.flippingfifty.com/5dayflip