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Oct 2, 2021
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Those who want to lose weight are faced with muscle loss

Loss of muscle tissue against the background of physical inactivity and abuse of “fast” carbohydrates is another problem for people striving for a slim figure. According to the observation of doctors, there are more and more patients with sarcopenia. The reasons lie in a complex of problems, but a sedentary lifestyle comes first. Izvestia was trying to figure out how to detect and prevent the loss of muscle tissue.

What is Sarcopenia

Doctors call sarcopenia the lack of muscle mass in the right amount. However, scientists introduce another concept – sarcopenic, or latent, obesity. This is the process of replacing muscle fibers with adipose tissue. This definition is given by the chief freelance nutritionist of the Ministry of Health Viktor Tutelyan.

On the Internet, this syndrome is often referred to as “skinny fat”. A person with sarcopenia may appear thin and slender, but bony patients are also prone to muscle loss. Outward signs of the syndrome can be a flaccid abdomen, loose hips, sagging skin.

Researchers have already reported an increase in a new type of obesity. Earlier, scientists from the Research Institute and the Museum of Anthropology of Lomonosov Moscow State University came to the conclusion that 40% of adult residents of the capital suffer from latent obesity.

Marina Makisha, a member of the Association of Dietitians and Nutritionists, noted that a decrease in muscle mass is characteristic not only of Muscovites, but also of residents of all large cities. According to the expert, this is due to low physical activity and the predominance of fast carbohydrates in the diet.

Why is loss of muscle tissue dangerous?

With sarcopenia, there is a decrease in the volume of muscles, their strength and the general activity of the patient. Patients complain of difficulties in performing habitual actions, general weakness, muscle pain, inability to independently move and self-care, which gradually leads to disability.

Moderate training and physical activity, on the contrary, are able to improve shaky health.

– In our body, muscle tissue performs the function of movement. The muscles move, pull the bone with them, improve the blood supply and nutrition of the bones, osteoporosis is delayed. When moving, the number of open capillaries increases, blood supply to the skin and joints improves. Active muscles improve the function of the veins and also provide better lymph flow. Pumping lymph, in turn, helps to cleanse the lymph nodes, which improves the immune system, ”endocrinologist Natalya Balashova gave examples.

The expert added that the movement is also responsible for another important component – good mood. Physical activity stimulates dopamine, endorphin, serotonin – hormones of happiness.

How to identify and prevent sarcopenia

To prevent the severe consequences of sarcopenia, it is necessary to diagnose the syndrome at the earliest stage.

The degree of obesity is determined by the body mass index (BMI) – this is the ratio of a person’s weight and height. If the received data is equal to 30 or more, obesity of the first degree is diagnosed. However, the formula has errors.

– For example, people with excess muscle mass, those who actively go to the gym, find it difficult to expose obesity. There is weight, but gained thanks to the muscles. For the majority, excess body weight occurs due to adipose tissue. As we age, starting at about 45-50, we all gradually lose muscle tissue. And to confirm sarcopenia, separate examinations are required, ”Balashova emphasized.

In order to understand how much muscle tissue is contained in the human body, doctors examine the patient, making anthropometric measurements – they calculate the girth of the body and the thickness of the fat fold. You can also diagnose sarcopenia instrumentally.

– In this case, impedance measurement is most often used, – explains the endocrinologist. – The current of weak intensity passes through the tissues of the body, meets this or that resistance on the way, and depending on what it comes across, the amount of adipose tissue, muscles and water is recognized. Thus, we can have people with approximately the same body weight, but with a different quantitative tissue composition.

In addition, the European Working Group on Sarcopenia in the Elderly (EWGSOP) recommends assessing the patient’s physical condition by walking speed over a short distance (4 m) as a basic method. The cut-off point is a speed of 0.8 m / s, below which sarcopenia should be suspected.

Sometimes the diagnosis becomes clear already at the stage of the conversation with the doctor.

– First of all, we ask what the patient is eating – very often there is a deficiency of protein in the diet. We are also interested in how much a person moves. To build muscle, you need power loads, there are no other options, says Balashova.

How to stop sarcopenia

The primary measure in combating muscle loss (as with any disease) is prevention. Exercise, especially gradually increasing strength loads, stimulates muscle protein synthesis. Exercise for at least 20 minutes per week markedly increases muscle and bone mass, strength, reduces functional limitations, and prevents falls and fractures in the elderly.

According to studies in which participants were healthy people aged 60 and older, after increasing physical activity, muscle strength increased in 82.8% of cases. However, nutritional supplements have shown additional benefits in only a small number of studies (22.8%). However, food protein indirectly affects key regulatory proteins and growth factors associated with muscle and bone health.

Maria Nemtseva

Photo: Getty Images / Kanpitcha Nonnittayanan / EyeEm



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