A blog for (semi) athletic middle-aged men (and women) holding on to (the last vestiges of) their youth
by training for and competing in running, cycling, swimming and triathlon events!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Do MAMILs (Middle-Aged Men in Lycra) Need More Protein?

There's even a MAMIL Cycling Club
in England, where the
MAMIL movement began.
 Are you a middle-aged man who is fighting off old age by competing in cycling, running and triathlon competitions? A few years ago a friend e-mailed me a link to this article from the New York Times with the subject line: "You are an American Mamil! At first I thought she had misspelled "mammal." But then I learned that the acronym stood for "Middle-Aged Men in Lycra." And the answer is yes. I am. And I am proud of it!
The MAMIL isn’t just about cycling but is about embracing fitness as part of a midlife "crisis" instead of the Corvette, the Harley, or (gasp!) trading the 40-year-old wife in for a pair of 20-year-olds. -- "The New Manhood: Meet the MAMIL," by James Fell, AskMen.com 
Around age 30 I began donning spandex shorts and shirts (and even tights in winter time) and took up cycling. At the time it was all about losing the weight I had gained in my 20s (about 70 lbs.). But when I hit 40 I started getting serious about cycling and competed in my first triathlon. Call it a middle-age crisis if you want. There is no doubt it was about fighting off old age. The added energy I gained from training and competing in these events made me feel and look younger. I still have people tell me I look younger today, at age 48, that I did at age 30 when I weighed 270lbs.

I felt much younger after my first century ride (right)
at age 40 than I did 10 years earlier (left) partying with Santa :)
 As I have tackled inreasingly difficult events (I have completed three Ironman 70.3 triathlons and six Ride the Rockies cycling tours) I have started paying more attention to my diet. To train for and compete in these events you have to provide your body with the fuel it needs to reach the finish line. And, of course, one my my favorite sources of essential vitamins and nutrients that fuel physical activity is BEEF!

That's why I was excited to read about this study from the Exercise Metabolism Research Group at McMaster University which suggests that "current guidelines for meat consumption are based on the protein needed to prevent deficiency without consideration for preservation of muscle mass, particularly for older individuals who are looking to maintain their muscle as they age." (Age-related muscle loss is a condition called sarcopenia, which is similar to osteoporosis only for muscle mass instead of bone mass.) The study of 35 middle-aged men found that "eating a 6-ounce serving of 85% lean ground beef resulted in significant improvements in the rate of muscle protein synthesis (MPS) following exercise" and that "the quantity of beef needed for optimal MPS for this age group is double the current recommended serving size of meat."
Couple that with the Beef in an Optimal Lean Diet (BOLD) study by researchers at Penn State University which found eating up to 5.4 oz. of lean beef every day, with other heart-healthy foods, can reduce LDL cholesterol up to 10% and that's great news for beef lovers (like me)! So grill up a steak for dinner, add some lean ground beef to your favorite pre-race pasta or put some beef jerky in your bag for after the race. Just be sure to add BEEF to your exercise and nutrition regimen to increase the effectiveness of your workouts and recovery from big events.

Ride on!


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