Can we retain lean muscle mass throughout perimenopause, midlife and our entire lifetime? YES WE CAN... if we invest in it every single day! With a few basic understandings you can "muscle up" every single day and avoid drastic losses of muscle mass through the aging process.
I'll start by sharing two recent studies to be aware of:
Study 1: Insufficient estrogen = lack of muscle (Experimental Gerontology, 2021)
This study documents what was suspected which is that women lose estrogen rapidly once they hit menopause. The stimulus of estrogen is huge for stimulating muscle. As estrogen goes down, and if you’re not strength training and/or paying attention to high quality protein intake it’s almost a given that you’re going to age more rapidly!
This is an argument for getting started on strength training NOW.
Study 2: Lean muscle loss associated with specific phases (Iran Journal of Public Health, 2021)
Phases of menopause:
-Pre menopause 7%
-Early perimenopause 3% (many don’t know they’re in it)
-Late perimenopause (30%)
-Early post menopause (27%)
-Late post menopause (32%)
So what do I mean by yes we can retain lean muscle mass throughout our entire lifetimes if we commit to it every single day?
To begin with we commit to it by making sure that we prioritize sleep.
Honestly your body does not care if you stay up late to get work done it's going to continue to do what it does in the absence of sleep.. which is stop fat loss, seriously minimize restoration of certain hormones that are only done through deep levels of sleep, throw some of your hormones such as those responsible for hunger and fullness out of whack etc.
And secondly prioritize strength training.
Even one strength training work of the week doing full body to maximize your time is 100% better and healthier than doing zero strength training workouts each week.
There's no sugar coating that fact. This doesn't need to be daunting as if you're just starting out - bodyweight will suffice!
Aim for 2-3 total body workouts each week if you are doing more than that make sure that you are not doing too much volume and perhaps split it up so you're not overloading body parts and actually doing yourself a disservice from not having enough rest and recovery. In perimenopause we need a lot of that!
The third thing is to commit to prioritizing protein daily.
Planning your meals planning your meals around protein I like to say a good guideline is one gram of protein per pound of body weight. This sounds daunting too many until you sit down and plan and then it is not. Check out my Meal Planner Bundle HERE for some help with meal/snack planning.
The science on these areas is clear, for us women we will experience very significant percentage losses of lean muscle mass if we do not strength train regularly through perimenopause and menopause and post menopause.
I recently shared a Fat Loss Over 40 webinar (you can watch the replay free HERE) you may be interested in.
You can also learn more through my 3 part How to Lose Belly Fat series HERE which goes into a deep dive of hormones and more!
I hope this was helpful!
Many blessings to you as a steward of a strong, healthy body.
Coach Julie xo