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The 4 Laws of Muscle

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked

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  • Muscle is lost far more easily and quicker than it’s built, so finding ways to continuously promote and maintain your muscle mass is really crucial, especially as you get older. Anytime you’re sick or hospitalized, having reserve muscle mass will also improve your chances of survival
  • Research shows elderly subjects can add 2.9 pounds of muscle in six months by strength training and taking a twice-daily protein supplement (15 grams per serving for a total of 30 grams per day)
  • However, even healthy young subjects in their 20s can lose 3.1 pounds of muscle mass in a single week of bedrest. You can lose 2.5% of your total muscle mass in the first two weeks of bedrest. By day 23, you can have lost up to 10% of your quadriceps’ muscle mass
  • You break down and rebuild 1% to 2% of your muscle mass each day, so you completely rebuild yourself every two to three months. Dietary protein is an essential component to build and maintain muscle mass, and older individuals have higher protein requirements than younger people
  • Exercising before you eat boosts your muscles’ sensitivity to protein signals, allowing you to optimize muscle building

While many tend to think about strength training as a form of vanity — developing a six-pack and a bulging “muscle-man” look and whatnot — building and maintaining muscle is actually a lifesaving strategy, and an imperative for a long and healthy life.

Anytime you’re sick or hospitalized, having reserve muscle mass will improve your chances of survival, and as I’ll discuss below, you can lose significant amounts of muscle in a single week of bedrest.


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