Surprising Reasons Why You Are Losing Muscle – Here’s How You Fix It

Updated on February 24th, 2020
Muscle Loss

Is it hard for you to be physically active nowadays? Are you feeling muscle weakness and fatigue? If your answers are yes, then maybe you are suffering from muscle loss. Well, the common reason for muscle loss is undoubtedly aging. But there are different other reasons which can cause muscle weakness and loss.

Let us elaborate a little on the facts about muscle loss, causes of muscle loss, and the different ways to fix it.

Fast Facts

Losing muscle mass is a common disorder when getting older. But understanding the causes and symptoms helps to treat it correctly. Abnormal and premature muscle loss can be triggered by eating disorders or malnutrition, anorexia, lifestyle issues, or any autoimmune diseases. Muscle corrosion can also be a sign of severe chronic illness.

Let’s talk about a few quick facts about muscle loss:

  • Muscle loss can be a symptom of a lack of physical activity.
  • Moderate workout can help to build muscles.
  • Your body needs amino acid and proteins to grow muscle.
  • Regular Checking of BMR is essential to prevent muscle loss.
  • Calculate your body’s calorie need as per your daily activity.

Symptoms of Muscle Loss

Muscle plays a very vital role in our everyday functions. Our body and its regulation depend on the proper functionality of major and minor muscles. Losing muscles can be frightening and alarming. It is dangerous when you are unaware of the actual reason for muscle loss. Few common symptoms of muscle loss are as follows:

  • Abnormality on muscle function and shape of your any particular limb.
  • The sudden sensation of weakness in moving an arm or leg or while doing regular chores like swimming, walking, or breaking stairs can be a vital symptom.
  • Muscle fatigue.
  • Rapid weight loss.
  • Feeling foggy.

Surprising Reasons Why You Are Losing Muscle

There are multiple reasons which can cause muscle loss. Starting from aging to injury, prolonged inactivity, lifestyle issues, or severe health conditions. Though age-related muscle loss is typical but drastic loss of muscle mass, can be an indication of other internal ailments.

Here are the probable causes of muscle loss:

1. Lifestyle Issues

aging skin
Image: ShutterStock

Aging: Aging is one of the significant reasons for muscle loss(1). Aging replaces our muscles with fatty tissues.

Inactive lifestyle: There is an old saying, ‘use it or lose it.’ You need to be active to maintain the inner strength of your muscles. It works like your brain. The more puzzles you solve, the more your brain capacity will increase. Sitting idle will reprogram your mind and only make things worse.

Excessive Exercise: Exercise helps our muscles to grow and become active. But we must understand our capacity. For example, let’s say you jog for a mile every alternative day. Suddenly a friend forwarded you an invitation to virtual marathon and you thought of giving it a try.

Do you know it can cause severe damage to your muscle? The long unused muscle can breakdown immediately.

Addiction: Excessive intake of alcohol, smoking, and drug abuse can cause lack of appetite, digestive disorders, and liver ailments. All of these are directly related to muscle loss.

[Read: Home Remedies for Aging]

2. Medical Issues

Cancer: If someone has cancer, then he or she needs more energy than ordinary people. And more energy requirement means more muscle break down because muscles act like the fuel.

Apart from that cancer cachexia or gradual loss of body fat, weight and muscles are another reason. Chronic disease: Diseases of the lungs, heart, or kidneys such as Tuberculosis can cause damage to muscle mass.

Neurologic shortfalls: Difficulty in mobility and altered cognition related to the neurologic disease can lead to undernourishment and muscle loss.

Medication side effects: Some specific medicine damages our natural digestion system and affects the appetite. Severe muscle loss after starting any new drug is a matter to be concerned. In that case, you should immediately talk to your physician.

Genetic Reasons: A few genetic diseases also can cause severe muscle loss.

3. Metabolic Issues

A loss of muscle mass can be related to food habits and metabolic processes, which include the following:

Diet and Food Habit related Causes: We often follow the specific diet after watching a few YouTube videos or reading a few blogs. But everybody has a different need and physical structure. So abnormal diet or malnutrition can cause muscle loss.

Skipping meals is another issue which can affect the muscles.

Malnutrition: Inferior diet or inadequate supply of needed nutrition, vitamins, and minerals can lead to loss of muscle mass.

Endocrine: Unevenness of various hormone secretions triggered by damage to hormone-producing glands can cause muscle and weight loss. Overactive thyroid or hyperthyroidism and diabetes can lead to damage of hormonal glands.

4. Inflammatory Issues

Image: ShutterStock

Inflammatory issues can include the following:

Autoimmune ailments: When your immune system works in reverse and attack your tissues, it causes autoimmune(2) illnesses. One of the autoimmune ailments is HIV. This type of autoimmune disease can cause extreme muscle mass loss.

Infections: Chronic infection can also cause loss of muscle mass and weight loss.

[Read: Anti-Inflammatory Herbs]

5. Gastrointestinal Issues

Gastrointestinal reasons for muscle loss include the following:

Malabsorption: Some digestive tract related diseases reduce the natural nutrient absorption capacity of our body, which causes muscle loss.

Inflammatory: Intestinal or stomach inflammation can also lead to breaking down of muscle.

6. Psychiatric Issues

Psychiatric causes behind muscle loss are:

Mood disorder: Certain psychological or behavioral disorders like mood swings, acute depression can directly affect the appetite and subsequently decrease the muscle.

Eating disorder: People with an eating disorder can suffer from muscle loss.

Anorexia: Anorexia is an unwillingness to eat food or a severe lack of appetite. Most of the time, the cause of anorexia is psychological. However, treating it in time is necessary to avoid excessive muscle mass loss.

Ways to Fix Muscle Loss

We have already talked about all the probable reasons for muscle loss. Now, here are the ways to fix muscle loss:

1. Eat High Protein Foods

protein-rich diet foods

According to studies, adults are prone to lose up to 8% of muscle each decade after crossing the age 40. Muscles are built with amino acids.

As per the experts, a person should consume protein throughout the day. The recommended daily allowance or RDA of protein is required to be fulfilled to remain physically active without breaking down the muscles. Our protein intake should stay between 90 to 100 grams.

Increased protein intake stimulates muscle protein synthesis. Foods like chicken, eggs, turkey, dairy products, fish, legumes, and beans are all excellent natural sources of protein. You can try protein supplements as well.

[Read: Hemoglobin Rich Foods]

2. Join the Gym or Work Out

Weight Training and Cardio Vascular exercise stimulates the muscles and help them to start growing. The probability of muscle loss decreases with regular workout regimes. If you tend to be physically inactive, then gradually your muscles will stop growing because your brain is signaling them to do so.

Try to start small and with time aim to exercise for 150 minutes at least. You can try any endurance exercise. Add weight training and cardiovascular ones with it. Remember, start small and do it in moderation. Otherwise, the unused muscles can be affected and can cause internal injuries.

Remember the following things:

  • Avoid over-doing. Do not repeat any exercise more than 8-10 times.
  • Keep yourself hydrated.
  • Do not exercise on an empty stomach.
  • Take rest for 30 to 60 seconds in between each set of exercise.
  • Practice under the proper guidance of an experienced trainer.

[Read: Foods to Eat Before Running]

3. Take Adequate Rest

Good sleep is essential to keep your muscles and your body healthy. Our body needs to rest for at least 9 hours. Our muscles grow and heal during our sleep. If you are exercising or exceptionally physically active, then try to understand the need for proper rest. Otherwise, the tired muscles will quickly break down.

4. Take Carbs

If you are taking low carbs, then you are jeopardizing the chances of muscle growth. Try to consume more whole grains, beans, sweet potato, and legumes. Fruits are also an excellent source of carbs. The proper combination of carbohydrates and protein helps to build muscle.

What’s more, studies suggest eating a combination of protein and carbohydrates before and after a workout can also help you in building muscle.

The basal metabolic rate depends on the amount of muscle we have. Muscles are metabolically active, or it is better to say they burn calories.  Even if you are just a couch potato and spend the entire day in watching Netflix, even then you are going to need muscle mass.

Try to recognize the symptoms and address the root causes of muscle loss. Few lifestyle and dietary changes can help you get rid of muscle loss to be active and be healthy.

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