What to do so you don't lose your muscle mass
Published: 16 April, 2020 - Updated: 30 July, 2020
The confinement situation can make it difficult to maintain an active lifestyle. However, regular physical activity is important for staying healthy because it helps our metabolism work properly, and more importantly, it helps reduce the stress and anxiety we may be feeling right now.
Whether you are a regular sportsperson or just like to exercise often, you should bear in mind certain guidelines to maintain your fitness during this confinement.
Maintaining your weight during confinement
What you should bear in mind is to maintain your body weight, so there should be a balance between your calorie intake and the type of exercise you do as well as your own body composition.
A basic balance is to include adequate energy, carbohydrates (that replenish fast-acting energy stores, glycogen), protein (repairs muscle) and fat (maintains cell membrane integrity and allows absorption of fat-soluble vitamins).
The Canadian Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the American Academy of Sports Medicine recommend a series of guidelines for the intake of these nutrients, according to the type of exercise to be performed:
- Proteins in a range of 1.2 to 2 g/kg of weight are the most relevant for muscle maintenance and development. Sources of protein-forming amino acids, such as creatine or arginine, can be found in red meat, tuna, salmon, nuts, hazelnuts, cashews, oats, beans, among others.
- Carbohydrates can be ingested within a wide range of categories defined by whether you are a beginner, in continuous training, the type of exercise, duration, etc., ranging from 1 g to 12 g/kg of body weight.
- Fats, whose proportion must be between 90% essential fatty acids (Omega) and 10% saturated fats.
- Micronutrients, such as iron, vitamin D, calcium, magnesium, and potassium, among others, according to the daily intake recommendations of the nutrition agencies.
- Foods containing high concentrations of antioxidants, such as broccoli, tomatoes, red fruits (such as blueberries), legumes, cinnamon, garlic, olive oil, grapes, and nuts, among others.
- Good hydration that includes water and electrolytes, such as sodium and potassium, among others. It is advisable to drink at least 1.5 liters a day, but this should be increased when you exercise to 3 liters or more.
Supplements for maintaining muscle mass
To help your muscles, especially during these unusual times of confinement, pay attention to two key aspects: strike a balance between the calories you burn and your calorie intake to maintain your weight, and include protein in your diet to maintain muscle mass.
You can supplement your diet with sports nutrition supplements to maintain muscle mass or tone. Here are some suggestions:
- Academia Americana de Medicina Deportiva. http://www.acsm.org.
- American College of Sports Medicine, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and Dietitians of Canada. Nutrition and Athletic Performance. Joint Position Statement. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 2016. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000000852.
- Costill, D. L. et al. Metabolic characteristics of skeletal muscle during detraining from competitive swimming. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1985 Jun;17(3):339-43.
- Gundersen, Kristian. Excitation-transcription coupling in skeletal muscle: the molecular pathways of exercise. Biol. Rev. (2011), 86, pp. 564–600. 564. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-185X.2010.00161.x.
- Hansen, B. F. et al. Glycogen concentration in human skeletal muscle: effect of prolonged insulin and glucose infusion. Scand J Med Sei Sports 1999: 9: 209-213.
- Hwang, P. S. et al. Resistance Training–Induced Elevations in Muscular Strength in Trained Men are Maintained After 2 Weeks of Detraining and Not Differentially Affected by Whey Protein Supplementation. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 31(4)/869–881 (2017).
- Hwang, P. S. et al. The Effects of Short-Term Detraining and Subsequent Retraining on Body Composition and Muscle Performance in Males Consuming a Whey Protein or Carbohydrate Supplement. IJESAB, Vol. 2, Iss. 8 (2016).
- Muñiz-Murguía, J. y A. L. Peraza-Campos. Capítulo 2: Fisiología del Músculo en J. A. F. Tresguerres et al. (ed.). Fisiología Humana, 3ra. edición. McGraw-Hill Interamericana de España, S.A.U. (2005). ISBN: 84-486-0647-7.
- Phillips, S. M. & L. J. C. Van Loon. Dietary protein for athletes: From requirements to optimum adaptation. Journal of Sports Sciences, 2011; 29(S1): S29–S38. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02640414.2011.619204.