Nutrition and Muscle Building - A Powerful Duo Against Sarcopenia!

With Nutrition and Strength Training for Better Quality of Life

Muscle building and maintenance are a matter of proper nutrition and regular training. Both protein intake through food and continuous strength training are essential to maintain muscle function and prevent age-related muscle loss (sarcopenia).  In this article we will show you how to strengthen your muscles and keep them healthy through the right nutrition and training strategy. For a better understanding, we explain the underlying biochemical processes and the medical importance of myokines. Learn more about the necessary amount of protein, suitable foods, effective training plans and other important preventive measures. This will help you stay active and independent into old age.

What are Myokines?

Our muscles produce and secrete certain proteins. These are called myokines and serve as messengers. This means that myokines enable communication between muscles and organs. 

That is why myokines play an important role in health. They have an anti-inflammatory effect, stimulate muscle growth and influence metabolism.

The term "myokines" was first coined in 2003 by the scientists Pedersen and Febbraio. It is made up of the words myo (Greek for muscle) and kine (movement). Myokines were intended to describe the proteins produced and secreted by muscle cells. This was because previously these proteins had been generally referred to as "muscle contraction-induced factors," which was very non-specific. With the term myokines, it is now possible to define the various protein messengers of the muscles more specifically. The term also emphasizes their function as muscle cell communication molecules.

In the years that followed, a whole series of specific myokines were identified and their effects studied. Today, myokines is an established technical term for muscle cell-specific proteins with autocrine, paracrine and endocrine effects. Myokine research continues to be an important field investigating potential therapeutic applications.

Are There Different Myokines?

Yes, there are different types of myokines that differ in their function, here are some examples:

Growth-promoting myokines 

Stimulate muscle growth, e.g. IGF-1, FGF-2.

Anti-inflammatory myokines:

They have an anti-inflammatory effect and thus protect the muscles, e.g. IL-6, IL-15.

Energy metabolism myokines:

They influence the energy metabolism of the muscles and the entire body, e.g. IL-6, irisin.

Insulin-sensitising myokines:

They increase insulin sensitivity and thus regulate blood glucose levels, e.g. IL-6

Anti-atrophy myokines:

They inhibit muscle breakdown, e.g. follistatin.

Myokines with systemic effects:

Some myokines transmit messages from the muscles to other organs, e.g. IL-6, irisin

Myokines in Medicine

In medicine, myokines are being studied for their potential in treating diseases.

Myokines Simply Explained

Myokines ensure the exchange between muscles and other organs. Regular training increases the number of these messengers.

What is Sarcopenia?

Sarcopenia is an age-related, progressive loss of muscle mass. This loss of muscle mass is initially natural and affects all people. This process usually begins as early as the age of 30. Studies show that at this age, without countermeasures, muscle mass already decreases by about 3-8 percent per decade of life. This leads to reduced performance, increased risk of falls and other health problems.

The term sarcopenia is originally composed of the Greek words sarx (flesh) and penia (deficiency). Literally translated, it means "lack of meat" or "loss of meat".

Sarcopenia was first mentioned by Dr. Irwin H. Rosenberg in 1989 in an article to describe age-related muscle wasting.

The Greek origins of the words also point to the history of muscle wasting as a long-known phenomenon.

It is important to note that sarcopenia is not only a natural part of the aging process, but is also considered a serious condition that can affect physical function, quality of life and health. Therefore, it is substantial to diagnose and treat sarcopenia in order to maintain muscle health and thus independence and ultimately well-being and quality of life.

What Are Symptoms of Sarcopenia?

  • The muscles become weaker, thinner and everyday activities become more difficult to perform. There is decreased strength and endurance.
  • Movements and activities like climbing stairs, shopping or even getting up from a chair become increasingly difficult.
  • The decrease in muscle performance increases the risk of falling and injury and increasingly restricts independence in everyday life.
  • Sarcopenia can lead to increased risk of chronic disease.

Sarcopenia Simply Explained:

Sarcopenia means a loss of muscle mass and function that restricts physical performance.

What Are the Effects of Sarcopenia on Health?

The above points have a dramatic impact on health. It is not just a matter of musculoskeletal muscle mass. Sarcopenia also increases the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis many times over. According to a meta-analysis, sarcopenia increases the risk of death by 1.5 to 4.6 times!

How Can I Prevent Sarcopenia?

We have now seen why early prevention of muscle wasting is so important. Regular strength training stimulates the production of muscle-building myokines. If you start early, you can keep your muscle mass and function at a high level for much longer. Studies show that even regular training at moderate intensity significantly counteracts age-related muscle loss.

A mixture of endurance and strength training is ideal. The latter is particularly important because it stimulates the production of muscle-building myokines. Stretching exercises also help to keep the muscles supple. 

In summary, early prevention is the best protection against excessive muscle loss in old age. The sooner you start, the easier it will be to keep your muscles resilient in the long term.

Medically sound expert advice

Muscle loss affects us all! As you get older, your strength decreases, which is why it is so important to prevent it in good time. “It is much easier to maintain performance rather than rebuilding it later,” says Doctor Johannes Wimmer. He therefore advises his patients: “Eat a healthy diet and do strength training twice a week for around 30 minutes; this will provide you with simple and effective prophylaxis.”

What Role Does Nutrition Play in Muscle Building?

As already indicated, myokines are important endogenous proteins for muscle building. But proteins that are ingested and metabolized through food are also existentially important. Proteins from food are the basis for muscle building and maintenance. Only through them is the body optimally supplied. Especially with advancing age, a sufficient protein intake is necessary to counteract age-related muscle loss.


Are Men Particularly at Risk of Developing Sarcopenia?

Studies show that men are actually more frequently affected by sarcopenia than women. Reasons for this include the greater age-related decline in testosterone in men, the higher baseline muscle mass that men lose as they age, and their tendency to lead unhealthier lifestyles. 
Estimates put the prevalence of sarcopenia at 10-25 percent in men over age 65 and only 10-15 percent in women of that age.


How health-oriented strength training helps

Monika (54)

"My doctor advised me very early on to do bodybuilding to combat muscle atrophy. I'm glad I listened to him."

Christoph (52)

"At 50, I noticed that my muscles were getting weaker and weaker. With weight training, I'm actively tackling the problem."

Rainer (64)

"With the right training, it's possible to make good progress in bodybuilding, even at over 60."