Grannies get physical: how bodybuilding may hold the key to a major ageing problem

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Our little protein factories

Thanks to these insights, in modern-day bodybuilding we now have a very good idea of how to improve muscle mass and strength. Muscle growth with progressive resistance exercise is a good example of how adaptable our skeletal muscle is. Part of the mechanism by which muscle grows is through a process called protein synthesis. Muscle grows by increasing the rate at which proteins are made, since muscle is made from protein.

Protein synthesis also responds to eating dietary protein. And when protein is consumed following resistance exercise, muscle production is enhanced even further. What’s more, muscles that have been subjected to resistance exercises increase their protein synthesis rates more than non-exercised muscles after each meal for at least the next 48 hours.

Not only is this insight useful for bodybuilders, it also tells us something useful about muscle wasting. We know that slow wasting conditions such as sarcopenia, where muscle mass progressively diminishes with age, are due to the impaired ability of muscle to increase protein production in response to feeding or loading. In effect, the muscle’s protein-building machinery becomes resistant to growth stimuli. This causes the protein, and hence the muscle, to be lost, which leads to reduced muscle function.

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