How I Reversed Sarcopenia, Added Some Muscle and Lost Some Fat
by Nils Osmar. Updated 12/3/2022. Medical Disclaimer
In the fall of 2020, I realized that I was both gaining some unwanted body fat (mostly around the waist) and slipping into sarcopenia. My muscles were getting weak and flabby.. I was eating a good diet but as you can see in the image on the left, I was losing muscle mass.
I had seen the same thing happen to my father when he was in his sixties, and realized that if I didn’t make some changes, I’d be heading in the same direction as he had, and as many people in my age group do.
So I started following an anti-aging, anti-sarcopenia protocol, which included some dietary changes and doing full-body resistance training three days a week.
Fat and muscle
To lose the excess body fat, I cut back on carbohydrates (particularly fruit and grains); cut back on dairy, which I personally find fattening; and started eating more high quality protein, mainly from animal sources such as sardines, salmon, anchovies, grass-fed beef, poultry, whey and pastured eggs. I also continued eating a lot of vegetables and fermented foods, and some berries. When buying beef, I looked for products from small family farms where the animals are treated well and have access to pasture.
I thought about joining a gym, but this was early in Covid and most of the ones in my neighborhood were closed down. So I bought some home gym equipment and started working out at home.
For my first year on this protocol, I was doing a lot of alternate day fasting.
I ate ample protein every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and fasted either 24 or 36 hours every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. (Sunday was my day to kick back and do whatever I wanted.) I was also taking supplements, including NAD boosters, testosterone boosters and hGH boosters.
The result of following this regimen was that, at the age of 67, I began losing excess body fat and adding a significant amount of muscle. This was all a new direction for me, as I had never buff or muscular in the past.
Changes in 2022
My alternate day fasting routine worked well in 2021, but around the beginning of 2022 I started thinking I might be fasting too much for my long term health, so I stopped doing the 36 hour fasts and tried some different approaches.
The first was switching to time restricted eating, with an eating window of noon till 8 pm (a 16:8 intermittent fasting schedule). Unfortunately I started gaining some unwanted pounds.
What I’m currently doing is eating within a 4 hour window (2 pm-6 pm), then fasting till the next day at 2 pm. This has helped me lose a couple of pounds and start feeling like I’m going in a good direction again.
I’ll be doing this for the rest of this month, then, depending on whether I’m happy with the results, I may go back to doing 36 hour fasts alternating with whole days of feasting in 2023.
Working out regularly
One thing I have been consistent about since I started the regimen is working out.
On my workout days, I:
- Get in the morning and drink some coffee and take Ca-AKG.
- Wait an hour or two
- Take my NAD boosters (NMN or NR, SIRT6 activator and black elderberry)
- Wait another hour or two
- Take some testosterone boosters,
- I then take a hot/cold contrast shower…
- Then get in some red light therapy…
- Then work out fasted three days a week.
- After exercising, I eat a high protein meal high in animal protein (such as scrambled eggs with sardines) to activate mTOR (the growth pathway).
- In the evenings I take metformin or berberine to ease my transition back into AMPK after the mTOR activation of my high protein meals.
On my non-workout days…
- I do all of the above but take a brisk walk instead of doing resistance training.
Activating mTOR and AMPK
- High protein meals activate the enzymatic pathway called mTOR, which is good for muscle growth.
- Fasting activates AMPK, which has been shown in lab animals to be good for longevity.
- This schedule give me about 6 hours of mTOR activation a day, and 18 hours of AMPK, a ratio that’s working well for me.
Why I’m not taking testosterone (yet)
I’ve been asked in the past if I take testosterone injections. The answer is no. However, one of my supplements (DHEA) is a pro-hormone which naturally increases the production of testosterone in the body. I was cautious about using DHEA though because it can also sometimes raises levels of estrogen. But (at least when taken with my other supplements) the result has been in increase in testosterone instead.
My testosterone levels were pretty low when I started; they went up a little when I took supplements, then went up higher again when I started exercising.
I have nothing against testosterone replacement therapy. I might actually have made more progress, and faster, if I’d done TRT. But for a number of reasons, including the fact that men’s testes shut down their production of testosterone if we take the injections, I wanted to avoid them if possible. So far I’ve been able to do so.
Year’s end update: Self-evaluation
As 2022 draws to a close, I feel like I am still making progress, though my muscle growth has slowed a bit. I’ve also gained about ten pounds of belly fat back, which was not what I had in mind. So I’m not sure if it was wise to cut back on the fasting.
I was hoping to look like Hugh Jackman in Wolverine by now, but that hasn’t happened 🙂 I’ll be working on adding more muscle and losing the ten pounds in 2023.
Video from this month (December 2022):
One exercise I enjoy doing
One of the best decisions I made was to buy a power tower so that I could start exercising. I liked the idea of a tower I could hang from and climb on and do a bunch of random arm and leg and shoulder exercises on. I really wished I could find an adult jungle gym like the ones on the playgrounds when I was little. So it was a step in that direction.
The tower I bought cost around $120. In this video I demonstrate how I started using it, and some exercises that I did on it that people in my age group could easily do. The exercises in the video above helped me to build up my muscles much stronger than they had been, so that a few months later, I could add other exercises.
At that point, I bought some other exercise equipment. But I still like using the power tower.
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Not medical advice
This article is not intended as, and should not be taken as, medical advice. I’m not advising that people follow any particular regimen, eat any particular diet or take any particular supplements, just sharing information and reporting on what I’m doing. All supplements can have side effects; I would encourage people to research both possible benefits and side effects before starting on any supplementation regimen. See full Medical Disclaimer
P,P.S. A few months after buying the power tower, I bought a Marcy gym. I found it helpful for developing some muscles that were hard to isolate on the power tower. I’m still using both machines. I work out three times a week.
Hello Nils, I am your age (70 this June) and my supplement ‘stack’ seems quite close to yours. I understand that you feel a surge of energy after taking fucoidan. Two hours ago I ingested my first SIRT6 activator; 25 minutes later an odd-yet-not-unpleasant sensation washed over me. I will be waiting for my arm hairs to turn color in about two months! . . . Since March 2003 I have taken one gram/day of metformin, and my health and appearance might be thought of as outliers by some. Recently I communicated with DoNotAge’s CEO Alan Graves by phone. He said my photos resemble a forty-something. People might relegate metformin to the back burner because they can’t easily obtain it, because it is such a long-term effort, and because conflicting reports of its efficacy and safety have muddied the waters. My feeling is that over the course of two decades metformin has contributed to my healthspan and youthful appearance. —Paul Kiesow