Nutrition and Sarcopenia

We all know that as you age it’s a good idea to eat a balanced diet and keep active, but have you considered how to maintain your strength and muscle. Did you know that from the age of 40, adults lose 8% of their muscle per decade? This is called Sarcopenia and results in a progressive loss of strength.

Sarcopenia can cause:

● An increased susceptibility to illness and infection
● A higher risk of falls and fractures
● Less physical strength and energy
● Ultimately less independence as you get older

How do you prevent Sarcopenia?

It is never too late, or too early, to start working on maintaining muscle mass and strength, to improve our overall life quality as well as warding off sarcopenia. The key to maintaining muscle mass as you get older lies in a combination of exercise and nutrition. Overall the evidence shows that eating a mediterranean style diet which is rich in protein, vitamin D, antioxidant nutrients and long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids will help to keep sarcopenia at bay.


Our protein requirements increase as we get older and protein has a key role to play in maintaining muscle strength. Protein is like a building block in the body. It is essential for building up muscle tissue. Protein is broken down in 20 amino acids, 9 of which we get from our diet. They all play an important role in muscle development. In order to get balance of amino acids the body needs it’s vital to have a variety of protein rich foods in your diet throughout the day. In fact studies have shown that the body uses protein best when spread out throughout the day rather than just in one of two meals. Foods rich in protein include fish, meat, chicken, eggs, milk, cheese, yoghurts, nuts, beans and lentils.

How to add more protein into your meals & snacks

  • Make fruit smoothies with milk or yogurt
  • Include hard boiled eggs/chicken/salmon in salads
  • Drink a glass of milk with meals
  • Have yogurt as a snack or add to fruit or cereal
  • Add legumes likes beans & lentils to soups, casseroles
  • Add cheese to vegetables, salads, sandwiches, potatoes, rice, pasta, and casseroles.
  • Enjoy peanut butter in sandwiches, toast, crackers or use as a dip for vegetables and fruit.
  • Add nuts and seeds to breakfast cereal, salads and stir fries.


Aim to stay active and include a combination of aerobic and resistance training to help maintain muscle and ward off sarcopenia. Click here to read Paul Conneely’s full guide on the exercise side of sarcopenia prevention.

Prevention is key

It’s more effective to incorporate nutrition and exercise strategies in your 30,40s and 50s to prevent or slow the progression of sarcopenia than it is to try to treat the condition in later life.

PMC Physio Dunboyne recommendation

If you are concerned about loss of muscle mass, contact one of our specialised physios at PMC Physiotherapy Dunboyne. We also recommend to speak with registered Coru Dietician Sonja Lynch at What2eat where she focuses on long term health rather than food restriction and fad diets. Combined with a suitable exercise routine, Sonja can help you develop a tailored nutrition plan to improve muscle health.


  • Mary E Van Elswyk, Lynn Teo, Clara S Lau, Christopher J Shanahan, Dietary Patterns and the Risk of Sarcopenia: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis, Current Developments in Nutrition, Volume 6, Issue 5, May 2022, nzac001,

  • Ganapathy A, Nieves JW. Nutrition and Sarcopenia-What Do We Know? Nutrients. 2020 Jun 11;12(6):1755. doi: 10.3390/nu12061755. PMID: 32545408; PMCID: PMC7353446.

  • S.M. Robinson, J.Y. Reginster, R. Rizzoli, et al. Does nutrition play a role in the prevention and management of sarcopenia?,
    Clinical Nutrition, Volume 37, Issue 4, 2018,

  • Robinson S., Cooper C., Aihie Sayer A. Nutrition and sarcopenia: A review of the evidence and implications for preventive strategies. J. Aging Res. 2012;2012:510801. doi: 10.1155/2012/510801.

  • Papadopoulou SK, Detopoulou P, Voulgaridou G, Tsoumana D, Spanoudaki M, Sadikou F, Papadopoulou VG, Zidrou C, Chatziprodromidou IP, Giaginis C, Nikolaidis P. Mediterranean Diet and Sarcopenia Features in Apparently Healthy Adults over 65 Years: A Systematic Review. Nutrients. 2023 Feb 22;15(5):1104. doi: 10.3390/nu15051104. PMID: 36904104; PMCID: PMC10005300.

  • Updated Scientific Recommendations for Food-based Dietary Guidelines for Older Adults Published April 2021


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