Muscle mass plays an essential role in maintaining your health and fitness levels. Not only do muscles provide support for the body, but they also help regulate metabolism and blood sugar levels, among other critical functions.
However, certain individuals find themselves experiencing decreased muscle mass, which can lead to a variety of health problems and challenges.
If you've been observing a decrease in your muscles, you may be wondering what could be causing this frustrating setback.
While there can be many factors that contribute to decreased muscle mass, there are a few key reasons that are particularly common. It's important to identify the underlying causes of your muscle loss to develop an effective plan for maintaining and improving your muscle health.
So, here are eleven possible reasons why you’re having decreased muscles, with some tips on how to improve your muscle health.
1. Hormonal Imbalances
Hormones are chemical messengers produced in the endocrine glands and travel through the bloodstream to different body parts. They also play a vital role in muscle growth, and imbalances in these hormones can lead to decreased muscle mass.
One of the most well-known hormones for muscle growth is testosterone. It plays a key role in increasing muscle strength by promoting protein synthesis, by which the body builds new muscle tissue.
Other hormones like insulin and growth hormones help to stimulate the growth of new muscle tissue in the body. So, an imbalance in these hormones can cause a decrease in muscles.
For example, low levels of testosterone can lead to a condition called sarcopenia, which causes a loss of muscle mass and strength.
Hormone tests can help you find out whether you have a hormonal deficiency that’s causing your muscles to decrease.
If you suspect hormonal imbalance may contribute to your muscle loss, talk to your healthcare provider about getting tested and treated.
You can easily have a testosterone test in Canada, the United States, and most places in North America.
2. Not Eating Enough Protein
Getting enough protein in your diet is one of the most important factors in building and maintaining muscle mass. Protein is the building block of muscle tissue; if you're not getting enough of it, your body will face various problems. For instance, the body won't have the resources it needs to repair
and rebuild muscle fibers after a workout. That’s why you must make a healthy diet plan that includes the necessary protein for the body.
Aim to consume at least 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight each day to ensure you're getting enough protein. This means if you weigh 150 pounds, you should be eating at least 150 grams of protein per day.
Good sources of protein include lean meats like chicken and fish, eggs, dairy products, and plant-based options like tofu, lentils, and quinoa.
While it's important to challenge your muscles with regular exercise in order to stimulate growth, overtraining can actually have the opposite effect.
You must understand that your body needs recovery and rest after an intense workout. If you're working out too often or not allowing your muscles enough time to rest and recover between workouts, you may be hindering your progress.
To avoid overtraining, you must give your muscles at least 48 hours of rest between workouts that target the same muscle group. You should also make sure you're getting enough sleep and taking rest days as needed to allow your body to recover and repair itself.
4. Not Enough Sleep
Speaking of sleep, getting enough rest is crucial for muscle growth and recovery. When you sleep, your body releases hormones like growth hormone and testosterone, which are essential for muscle repair and growth.
If you're not getting enough sleep, or if the quality of your sleep is poor, you may be hindering your progress in the gym. As a result, your muscles might start to decrease instead of getting bulky.
Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night to ensure you're getting enough rest. If you're having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, try establishing a regular sleep schedule. Another important tip is to avoid caffeine and alcohol in the evening, which can facilitate a better sleep routine.
5. Not Enough Calories
If you're trying to lose weight, it can be tempting to reduce your calorie intake to see faster results drastically. But, if you're not eating enough calories to support your activity level, you may sabotage your muscle-building efforts.
If you suddenly stop taking calories, your muscles will start to decrease because of the lack of calories in your body.
To maintain and build muscle mass, you must consume enough calories to support muscle repair and growth. Additionally, you have to eat enough to meet your daily energy needs. Furthermore, you can consult a registered dietitian to develop a meal plan supporting your fitness goals.
6. Age-Related Muscle Loss
As we age, it’s quite natural that our bodies will start to lose muscle mass and strength at some point. This process, known as sarcopenia, typically begins in our 30s and accelerates in our 50s and beyond.
\While you can't completely stop the effects of aging, you can take steps to slow the progression of sarcopenia. This way, you can maintain healthy aging and strengthen your muscle mass as you age.
To combat age-related muscle loss, make sure you're engaging in regular exercises that challenge your muscles and help maintain your bone density. You should also get enough protein in your diet to support muscle growth and repair.
7. Chronic Illness or Disease
Certain chronic illnesses and diseases can also contribute to decreased muscle mass. Conditions like cancer, heart failure, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can affect the body in many ways. They can cause muscle wasting and weakness, making it more difficult to maintain your strength and fitness.
If you have a chronic illness or disease, talk to your healthcare provider about developing a plan to maintain your muscle mass and strength. This may involve working with a physical therapist or other healthcare professionals to develop a safe and effective exercise plan for your condition.
8. Sedentary Lifestyle
If you're not regularly engaging in physical activity, your muscles might lose proper mass. It’s because when you don't use your muscles regularly, they can atrophy and lose their strength and tone. That’s why you must try to change your lifestyle and habits to regain your muscle mass.
If you want to get rid of a sedentary lifestyle, aim to engage in regular physical activity that challenges your muscles and keeps you moving. This can include strength training exercises, cardio workouts, and other forms of physical activity that you enjoy.
Chronic stress can also have a negative impact on muscle growth and maintenance. When you're under stress, your body releases cortisol, a hormone that can lead to muscle breakdown and reduced protein synthesis. This can make building and maintaining muscle mass more difficult, even if you're eating a healthy diet and engaging in regular exercise.
In order to mitigate stress and support your muscle growth, try incorporating relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or yoga into your daily routine. You can also consider talking to a mental health professional if you struggle with chronic stress or anxiety.
10. Lack of Variety in Your Workouts
Another factor contributing to decreased muscle mass is a lack of variety in your workouts. If you're always doing the same exercises, you may be limiting your potential for growth and progress.
Try switching up your workout routine every few weeks to keep your muscles engaged and challenged. You can add new exercises, increase the weight, or change the number of sets and reps you're doing for a better output.
Finally, it's important to remember that genetics can also play a big role in your muscle mass and strength. Some people can naturally have a higher muscle mass or a greater potential for muscle growth.
On the other hand, people who are not genetically gifted might have to work harder to achieve the same results. Although you can’t change your genetics, you can still work towards building the best body possible for your unique needs and abilities.
By focusing on healthy habits like regular exercise, a balanced diet, and rest, you can strengthen your muscle growth to maintain a healthy body.
If you're experiencing a decrease in muscle mass, it can be frustrating and discouraging. However, by identifying these underlying causes, you can take steps to address and build the healthy, fit body you want.
Prioritize your health and wellness, and you can achieve your fitness goals and enjoy the benefits of a healthy body for years to come.