Buried deep inside your muscle tissue is something truly incredible—the secret switch that could fire up your health, slim your waist and boost your energy levels. They’re called mitochondria.
Here’s how to get more of them.
Walk at least three to five days a week
Any aerobic exercise counts, but if you haven't hit the gym in a while, 35- to 45-minute brisk walks are enough to build mitochondria-rich muscle and blast fat out of your tissue, literally. For extra benefit, throw in a few faster one-minute intervals several times each session. This not only ups kilojoule burn and preserves your muscle’s ability to react quickly but also creates metabolites that stimulate mitochondria growth, giving your mitos another little boost, according to Timothy Church, a professor of preventive medicine at Pennington Biomedical Research Center in the US.
Break out the weights two days a week
Although resistance training isn’t as effective as aerobics for building mitochondria, it’s vital for maintaining lean muscle mass, which declines naturally with age, beginning in our 30s. Two full-body 20-minute strength sessions a week are all you need to stay strong and offset shrinkage. Able to squeeze in three or four? Even better.
Eat a hit of protein at every meal
Protein contains amino acids, the building blocks of muscle tissue, and getting enough
in your diet is critical to help offset muscle loss.
So how much do you need? The recommended dietary intake for women is 46g a day (0.75g per every kilogram of body weight), but some experts suggest filling up on 1.5g of lean protein per kilogram of body weight (about 90g a day for a 60kg woman) is beneficial. For the best results, break up your intake so you have adequate protein (think chicken, fish or legumes) at every meal.
Stock up your vitamin D stores
Spend most of your time indoors, and always covered up when you do head outside? Like around 30% of us, you could be low in the vitamin. “Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with falls and muscle weakness in the elderly,” says Peggy Mannen Cawthon, who studies age-related muscle loss. Ask your GP about having your levels tested, and be sure to find out about the eligibility requirements for a Medicare rebate.