June 8, 2018

Diet and Exercise Can Save Your Muscles

President's Blog
Margaret Hudson
President, Burnbrae Farms
4th Generation Farmer

Hi, my name is Margaret Hudson, my family owns and operates Burnbrae Farms and has been farming since 1891. I am passionate about nutrition and health and of course eggs! I am excited to share some of my learnings from almost 30 years of working in our family’s egg business and a lifetime of being around our farm.  If you have enjoyed receiving this information and would like to receive more posts, please sign up in the link below for our company newsletter .

How diet and exercise can save your muscles

Have you heard of “sarcopenia?” It’s the progressive loss of muscle tissue that comes with aging and leads to a reduction in a person’s strength. It can have an impact on a person’s ability to perform everyday activities such as walking, climbing stairs and lifting objects. It’s a bit scary to think that our strength and vigour could decline, especially since we feel so vibrant now. But there’s good news – though sarcopenia is a natural phenomenon, there are steps we can take to slow its progression, and to protect our muscles and strength.

Age-related changes

Beginning as early as our 40s, skeletal muscle mass and strength begin to decline. It happens in a linear fashion, with up to 50 percent of mass being lost by the time we reach our 80s. Sarcopenia is associated with the increased risk of certain diseases, fatigue, falls, and mortality, so we need to slow down its progression. But how?

Well, first we have to understand the cause of this muscle loss. It’s a cluster of things, which include:

  • - Poor nutrition

  • - Not enough protein

  • - Lack of exercise

  • - Hormonal changes

  • - Inflammation

  • - Age-related cell changes

We can’t do much about the natural hormonal or cellular changes, but we sure can take control of diet and exercise.

Build up muscle

Results of clinical intervention studies – in even the oldest and frailest nursing home residents – have shown a significant improvement in muscle strength and function when people exercise more and improve their diet.[1] And it’s never too early – or too late -- to start.


Aim for a combination of aerobic exercise and resistance training. This important duo can prevent, and even reverse, muscle loss. You should aim for a minimum of 150 minutes of activity per week.

  • - Aerobic exercises get your heart rate up, and include fast-pace walking, biking, swimming and dancing.

  • - Resistance training exercises include weight-lifting, pulling against resistance bands or using weight machines at a gym.


If your diet is low in calories, protein or certain vitamins and minerals, you could lose muscle mass more quickly. Tea and toast for breakfast? I don’t think so!

  • - Protein: In order to keep your muscles strong, you need to get 20-30 grams of protein at every meal, including breakfast. Protein is literally what builds muscles, and eating protein-rich foods directly signals your muscle tissue to build and strengthen. Protein is made of amino acids, and one in particular is very important for regulating muscle growth. It’s called leucine, and it’s found in eggs, meat, fish and whey protein. [2]

  • - Vitamin D: While the right dose is not yet established, researchers have seen a greater rate of sarcopenia when vitamin D is low.[3] Every Canadian over the age of 50 should take a vitamin D supplement (400 IU) daily, or eat foods rich in vitamin D, such as eggs, milk and fish.

  • - Omega-3 fats: These fats, found in our Naturegg Omega-3 enriched eggs , and some fish (salmon, trout), may help with muscle growth. Omega-3 fats are also known to be anti-inflammatory, which is important here since inflammation leads to sarcopenia.

Including omega-3 enriched eggs in your diet is a great way to combat muscle wasting, because they contain protein, vitamin D and omega-3 fats. Triple-win! These are the key nutrients that your body needs in order to build muscle. In addition to eggs, which are an excellent source of protein, here are some other protein-rich foods to have. Remember to aim for 20-30 grams of protein at every meal:

It’s really a combination of exercise and diet that helps the most – so try both in tandem for the best outcome.

If you would like to read more about the importance of protein in your diet, please download our free brochure .

Margaret Hudson

President, Burnbrae Farms