How to maintain muscle mass as you age

As you age, you may start to experience a decrease in muscle mass. And while you can’t turn back the clock, there are some ways you can mitigate muscle loss and improve your health span. Here’s what you need to know about how to maintain muscle mass as you age.

As the years tick by, loss of muscle mass due to aging and subsequent health risks rise. But luckily, consistent resistance training and savvy lifestyle choices stand as your defense, putting you in the driver's seat of combating muscle loss. 

Building and maintaining lean muscle is a crucial component of aging gracefully, having a better health span, and improving mobility for years to come. But are there any other benefits that come with having muscle mass, and how can you effectively develop it?

In this article, we’re turning to research for a better understanding of what muscle mass is, the importance of it, and how you can implement certain lifestyle choices to preserve its strength.

Understanding muscle mass

Muscle mass can simply be defined as the size of your muscles and the amount of muscle you have in your body. These muscles are integral for a diverse amount of bodily functions, such as facilitating movement and maintaining posture


. In terms of human muscle composition, muscle is roughly 75% water, 20% protein and an additional 5% of other substances such as salts, minerals, fat, and carbohydrates


There are three distinct categories of muscle:

  1. Skeletal muscle. Skeletal muscle makes up 40% of our total body weight, and plays a crucial role in movement, posture and activity


    . This muscle is a large contributor to essential bodily functions, as it helps support bones and control over voluntary movement.

  2. Smooth muscle. The smooth muscle can be found in your stomach and throughout intestines. It helps with digestion, nutrient collection, and is present in your urinary system to help rid your body of toxins


    . Different to skeletal muscle, smooth muscle acts involuntarily and regulates your body’s sub systems without any thought.

  3. Cardiac muscle. The cardiac muscle serves a vital role in the heart, being primarily responsible for contracting and driving the pumping action that propels blood throughout the body


    . This muscle possesses considerable strength to meet the body's metabolic requirements, and much like smooth muscle, its actions are involuntary.

Why is muscle mass important?

Muscle mass is essential for maintaining overall health and well-being, as it contributes to functional strength and quality of life. Increased muscle mass also aids in maintaining healthy body composition, reducing the risk of chronic diseases, supporting mobility and balance, and promoting independence in daily activities, especially as you age. Furthermore, studies have also found that muscle mass may help prevent injury, increase bone density, boost metabolic rate, and help maintain overall mental well-being and cognitive function [








] Learn more about

why muscle mass is important

in this article. 

How to calculate muscle mass 

Your body composition can serve as a significant indicator of high versus low muscle mass and body fat levels


However, accurately pinpointing these numbers can be challenging due to various factors, particularly due to limited access to costly technology. Despite this, there are a few tools that exist to gain estimates about our muscle mass and lean body composition.

  • Body fat percentage: Weigh yourself on a body fat scale and subtract this number from 100 to find your lean body mass [


    ]. Remember this number is only an estimate.

  • Simple Muscle Weight (SMW): This is an equation that can help identify diminished muscle mass


    . You can calculate your number with the following: SMW=289.2*(body weight measured - BMI)+3631

Calculating muscle mass can provide valuable insights for everyone, but it’s especially for older adults. Studies have found that the accumulation of fat is a substantial contributor to physical limitations in the elderly, resulting in heightened fat mass and diminished lean mass. Therefore, evaluation and calculation of body composition serve as valuable metrics as you age [



muscle mass

4 factors that affect muscle mass

Research continues to show that muscle mass plays a large role in the health of older adults, as it can help improve mobility and boost longevity. Here are some factors that can influence muscle mass.

1. Not getting enough protein

Protein intake is critical in building lean muscle, providing the essential amino acids required for muscle protein synthesis. Insufficient protein intake can adversely impact muscle tissue by hampering synthesis. Therefore, consuming sufficient protein plays a pivotal role in reducing the risk of sarcopenia and significant muscle mass among older adults



The amount of protein needed to build muscle varies based on factors such as age, sex, weight, and activity level, but here are some general guidelines:

  • Adults: 0.8 g/kg/day

  • People over 70: 1.14 g/kg/day


While protein requirements and consumption vary based on a range of factors, such as age and health status, research reveals that 40% of individuals over the age of 70 fail to meet the required protein intake



Interestingly, studies have found that  people aged 70 to 79 who consumed at least 1.1 g of protein/kg/day lost 40% less lean body mass compared to those who only consumed 0.8 g protein/kg/day





You can meet your protein intake through dietary sources (such as lean meat, dairy products, and eggs) or from supplementation options, like

Elo Smart Protein


toan post workout

How Elo Smart Protein can help maintain muscle mass

If you are looking to get a headstart on combating age related muscle mass loss - Elo is here to help.

Elo Smart Protein

is the world’s most personalized protein powder, as it provides a unique blend of high-quality protein, functional nutrient boosters, and electrolytes tailored precisely to your needs. Your custom blend is designed to fit your preferences, goals, and activities, serving as a supportive companion on your health and wellness path. 

Notably, this personalized blend is informed by the latest nutrition science, aligning your data with

optimal wellness boosters

, protein, and electrolytes for your well-being. Additionally, a dedicated registered dietitian stands ready to guide you in optimizing your daily health and enriching your wellness journey.

Elo eliminates the uncertainty surrounding your nutritional requirements. Whether your aim is to enhance peak performance or proactively maintain muscle mass, Elo stands by your side and can be a key factor in helping you age with grace. Your Smart Recovery blend is just a click away!

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2. Aging

As we grow older, muscle mass typically decreases by approximately 3% to 8% per decade after reaching 30 years of age, resulting in an annual loss of around 0.2 kg of lean weight


. This rate of decline becomes more pronounced, ranging from 5% to 10% per decade after reaching 50 years of age


. This reduction in muscle mass raises the likelihood of falls, mortality, and diminished quality of life due to restricted physical function



While you can’t turn back the clock, you can mitigate the amount of muscle you lose through protein intake, strength training and cardiovascular activities. 

3. Sarcopenia

Sarcopenia is a condition that affects your musculoskeletal system, and leads to a gradual loss of muscle strength, mass, and function. The development of sarcopenia is predominantly linked to age, but lifestyle factors (such as poor nutrition, lack of physical activity, alcohol consumption, and tobacco usage) can also play a role.

While you might not be able to fully prevent sarcopenia, you can take a few steps to slow its progression:

  • Focus on getting enough protein (20-35 g/meal).

  • Stay active and include resistance training in your exercise routine.

  • Get routine physicals with your healthcare provider.

4. Sedentary lifestyle

Research shows that sedentary individuals may experience a decline of 3% to 8% in muscle mass per decade, coupled with a reduction in metabolic rate and an increase in fat accumulation



To combat muscle loss, experts recommend consistent resistance and aerobic training, as these have been found to enhance protein synthesis, promote muscle mass growth, and decrease the decline in muscle mass and strength associated with aging





Furthermore, studies have shown that people who participated in 10-12 weeks of resistance and strength training saw an increase in lean weight, resting metabolic rate, muscle strength, and fat weight




This can contribute to enhanced physical performance, better movement control, increased walking speed, heightened functional independence, improved cognitive abilities, and improved self-esteem. 

Research indicates that improvements in muscle strength among older adults can be seen with as little as one session of resistance training per week



Science-backed tips for how to maintain muscle mass

Experts agree that maintaining muscle is vital for your overall health and wellness. Here are the best science-backed tips for how to maintain muscle mass as you age. 

  • Cut back on alcohol. Research indicates a correlation exists between increased alcohol consumption and an overall diminishment of muscle mass and deterioration in muscle health



  • Stop smoking. A study has identified a connection between weekly smoking and decrease in muscle strength among both men and women, regardless of lifestyle variables. Undoubtedly, smoking exhibits an inverse link with skeletal muscle strength among healthy adults



  • Get more sleep. As we age, attaining sufficient sleep becomes increasingly difficult. Shorter sleep durations have been linked to declines in muscle mass and impaired muscle function, which can lead to an elevated risk for falls



  • Maintain a healthy weight. Research has revealed significant associations between obesity and onset of sarcopenia in later stages of life. Weight stands out as a modifiable risk factor closely linked with sarcopenia. Obesity-related factors can exacerbate sarcopenia among elderly, having profound impacts on physical disability, morbidity, and mortality [



  • Consider supplements. Studies have shown that

    certain supplements

    (like ashwagandha, turmeric, magnesium, and probiotics) can be beneficial for gaining muscle and reducing inflammation. 


Comprehending muscle mass is crucial in understanding its vital role in various bodily functions. Muscle mass significantly impacts overall health, and age related declines in muscle strength and function emphasize the need for lifestyle choices to maintain muscle mass.

While there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to muscle growth, it’s important to prioritize nutrition (especially from protein and supplements) and consistent resistance training to help counteract the risk of sarcopenia and allow you to strive for an active and healthy lifestyle.

Disclaimer: The text, images, videos, and other media on this page are provided for informational purposes only and are not intended to treat, diagnose, or replace personalized medical care.

Key takeaways

  • Muscle mass plays a vital role in bodily functions, such as movement and posture, and can be categorized by three categories skeletal, smooth, and cardiac muscle).

  • Muscle mass impacts overall health, correlating higher mass with greater strength and resilience, while reduced mass increases vulnerability.

  • Sarcopenia is an age related decline in muscle mass. While it’s not preventable, you can mitigate the effects through healthy lifestyle choices, getting adequate protein intake, and doing strength training exercises.

  • Protein intake is critical in building lean muscle, providing the essential amino acids required for muscle protein synthesis. You can meet your protein needs with dietary sources or with supplementation (like Elo Smart Protein).

  • You can improve muscle mass through adequate nutrition (especially from protein and supplements) and consistent resistance training.


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