Anabolic Resistance: The Effects of Ageing on Muscle & Strength
As we age, we may find it harder to build and maintain muscle. This is because our bodies become less responsive to anabolic stimuli. This is known as anabolic resistance.
What is an Anabolic Process?
An anabolic process is when the body builds complex molecules from simpler ones. When it comes to creating muscle, amino acids are formed into chains that create proteins (muscle).
Anabolic processes are essential for growth, maintenance and repair of tissues.
What is Anabolic Resistance?
Anabolic resistance refers to a condition in which the body’s tissues, particularly skeletal muscle, become less responsive to stimuli that would normally cause the body to begin anabolic processes. For example, resistance exercise and the presence of amino acids (the building blocks of protein) and insulin.
In older climbers, the body’s reaction to these stimuli is reduced. Older climbers require more exercise, more amino acids and more insulin to generate the same anabolic response than their younger counterparts.
Older climbers need a greater stimuli to create the same amount of muscle as a younger climber.
What Happens When Anabolic Resistance Occurs?
When the body is exposed to these anabolic stimuli, it typically responds by building up and repairing tissues, particularly muscle tissue. However, in cases of anabolic resistance, the body’s response to these stimuli is reduced, which can make it more difficult to build muscle and maintain muscle mass.
Why is it Harder to Build Muscle?
For example, in resistance exercise, the muscle is exposed to mechanical stress, which triggers an anabolic response that results in muscle growth and repair. However, if a person has anabolic resistance, their muscles may not respond as strongly to this stimulus, which can make it harder to build muscle and strength.
Similarly, amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, and when they are consumed in the diet, they can stimulate muscle protein synthesis. However, in cases of anabolic resistance, the muscle may not respond as effectively to the presence of amino acids, which can limit the amount of muscle protein synthesis that occurs.
Insulin is another anabolic stimulus that can promote the uptake of amino acids and glucose into muscle cells. However, in cases of anabolic resistance, the muscle may not respond as effectively to insulin, which can reduce the uptake of amino acids into muscle cells and limit the amount of muscle protein synthesis that occurs.
Why Does Anabolic Resistance Occur?
Anabolic resistance can occur for several reasons:
As we age, our bodies become less responsive to anabolic stimuli. This is due in part to a decline in hormones like testosterone, growth hormone, and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), which play important roles in muscle growth.
2. Sedentary Lifestyle
Lack of physical activity can lead to muscle loss and decrease muscle protein synthesis, which can result in anabolic resistance.
3. Chronic Inflammation
Chronic inflammation, which can result from conditions like obesity or metabolic syndrome, can impair muscle protein synthesis and lead to anabolic resistance.
4. Insulin Resistance
Insulin resistance, a condition in which the body’s cells become less responsive to insulin, can impair muscle protein synthesis and lead to anabolic resistance.
5. Nutrient Deficiencies
Deficiencies in key nutrients like protein, essential amino acids, or vitamin D can impair muscle protein synthesis and contribute to anabolic resistance.
It’s worth noting that anabolic resistance is not an all-or-nothing phenomenon; rather, it occurs on a spectrum, and individuals can have varying degrees of anabolic resistance depending on their age, lifestyle, health status and other factors.
Anabolic resistance can make it difficult to build and maintain muscle mass, and it can occur for a variety of reasons, including ageing, a sedentary lifestyle, chronic inflammation, insulin resistance, and nutrient deficiencies. Understanding the factors that contribute to anabolic resistance and taking steps to address them can help individuals improve their muscle-building abilities and overall health.
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