To gain muscle mass, you only need to do two things: train strength and eat enough protein. It is an inseparable combo in this case, because thanks to the action of protein on the muscles, after doing strength exercise we have the possibility of increasing muscle mass. And it is that When we do intensity strength training, micro tears occur in the muscle fibers in our body. which cause the body to stimulate the repair and growth process, that is, the increase in muscle mass. It is at this moment when proteins intervene. “If a diet high in protein and creatine is added to properly adapted physical exercise, the elderly person will be moving through the territory of strength and health. This combination helps them get away from sarcopenia,” explains coach Álvaro Punch in Strength training for seniors (Amat).

According to dietician and nutritionist Mercedes Gállego, proteins become a fundamental ingredient for increasing muscle mass because they act as building blocks that help in muscle repair and construction. “The better the quality of the protein (“the bricks”), the larger and stronger the muscle fibers produced will be”says the expert.

What to do to increase muscle mass?

In the combination of diet and exercise to increase muscle mass, concern about fat appears. To eliminate it, we know that we must reduce caloric intake, but it is at this time that the mistake of reducing the amount of protein is usually made, which is why it is not possible to increase muscle mass. “Nutritionally, you have to ensure the sufficient calorie intakeeven a slight caloric surplus, that is, eating more calories than you burn, so that it provides us with the energy needed for muscle growth. That there is no lack of macronutrients in an adequate proportion,” says Mercedes Gállego.

To meet the adequate proportion of proteins when we are at an age of loss of muscle mass, we must consume, at least 1.6 to 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of weight bodily. And don’t forget to include healthy fats (such as avocados, olive oil and walnuts) for hormonal and energy balance; carbohydrates (preferably complex whole grain type) so that energy is sustained during training and stay well hydrated if we do not want there to be errors in muscle function and its recovery.

Don’t forget about exercise to increase muscle mass.Getty Images

What proteins to take to gain muscle mass and when

In nutrition we find three protein options that we can take: animals, vegetables and protein supplements. Although there is some reluctance to take supplements, many experts recommend its use after training because you can take advantage of the window of opportunity created by strength training. “There are some “45 minutes after the end of the training session in which the absorption and assimilation of the ingested proteins is much greater”, explains trainer Álvaro Puche, justifying the use of protein supplements in adulthood because “a whey protein isolate takes an average of 20 minutes to reach its destination!” instead of the 20 hours that, on average, it takes for protein associated with food.

The ideal is to have a balanced diet in which protein consumption is distributed. “It is advisable to distribute protein intake throughout the day, including them in the main meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner). If our goal is to increase muscle mass, it is important to consume them after training to optimize muscle protein synthesis, when our muscles have to repair and recover,” explains nutritionist Mercedes Gállego. And she adds: “Consuming proteins before and after training supports the muscle protein synthesis. If we eat a protein-rich meal between 30-60 minutes before training, it will help us perform at our best. And if we divide the protein intake into several meals throughout the day we will maintain a constant flow of amino acids.”

As for the difference between animal and vegetable proteins, both can be effective in increasing muscle mass, but they have some differences. “Protein quality is measured by its amino acid profile, bioavailability and nutritional content. Animal proteins usually have a more complete amino acid profile and high bioavailabilitywhile proteins vegetables offer health benefits and can be optimized through a strategic combination (vegetable protein + cereals or seeds)”, says the food expert, who advocates combining both types of protein to provide the body with a complete range of essential nutrients.

10 Foods rich in protein to gain muscle mass

To get into the subject and adapt the shopping list from the age of 50, after having acquired a strength exercise table appropriate to the physical condition, we ask Mercedes Gállego to give us a list of foods with more protein for increase muscle mass. “Lean meats, poultry, dairy, and eggs They contain significant amounts of protein. The seafood They are also a good source of protein and contain healthy fats that are beneficial for overall health. Plant-based proteins, such as legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grainsThey are also good sources of protein. The edamame, tofu and tempeh They are great options for those who want to increase muscle mass through the consumption of plant-based proteins. We can easily include these 10 foods in our diet and they will provide us with high-quality proteins, both of animal and plant origin, and essential nutrients that will promote the construction of muscle mass,” he comments.

  1. Eggs. They are high quality proteins. A large egg contains about 6 grams of protein and all essential amino acids. Eggs also contain vitamins A, B, D and E, as well as minerals such as iron, copper, phosphorus and selenium.
  2. meats. In addition to beef, chicken, turkey and pork are also great sources of high-quality animal proteins. An 85-gram serving of skinless chicken breast contains about 27 grams of protein. These meats are also low in saturated fat and calories, making them a healthy option.
  3. Dairy. Milk, cheese, and yogurt are also great sources of high-quality animal protein. One cup of skim milk contains about 8 grams of protein. Yogurt is even richer and contains about 13 grams of protein per cup. These dairy products are also packed with vitamins and minerals, such as calcium, vitamin D, and potassium.
  4. Seafood and fish. Seafood and fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines and tuna are excellent sources of high-quality animal proteins. An 85 gram serving of salmon contains about 22 grams of protein. Seafood is also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which can help reduce inflammation and lower the risk of chronic diseases.
  5. Quinoa. It is one of the few plant protein sources that is a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids. One cup of cooked quinoa contains about 8 grams of protein. Quinoa is also a good source of fiber, iron, magnesium and copper.
  6. chia seeds. They are a great source of high-quality plant proteins. About 30g of chia seeds contain 5 grams of protein. Chia seeds are also an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, antioxidants, calcium, and magnesium.
  7. Lentils. They are a great source of plant proteins. One cup of cooked lentils contains about 18 grams of protein. Lentils are also a good source of fiber, folic acid, iron and magnesium.
  8. Almonds. They are a great source of high-quality plant proteins. Approximately 30g of almonds (one serving) contain about 6 grams of protein and also provide us with monounsaturated fats, vitamin E, magnesium and antioxidants.
  9. Tempeh. It is made from fermented soybeans, which is a great source of high-quality vegetable proteins. One cup of tempeh contains approximately 31 grams of protein. Tempeh is also a good source of fiber, iron, calcium and vitamin B2.
  10. Yoghurt Greek. A great source of high-quality animal protein, a cup of Greek yogurt provides us with about 18 grams of protein, as well as minerals such as calcium and potassium, and an interesting serving of probiotics.

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The expert’s advice

According to Mercedes Gállego, dietitian and nutritionist: “Proteins are essential for muscle development, but excess protein does not directly translate into greater muscle growth. The body has a limit to the amount of protein it can use for muscle tissue synthesis. Therefore, it is important to maintain a balance in protein intake and not significantly exceed the recommended amounts.”