How junk food leads to muscle loss

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As you get older, the quality of food becomes more important. You can draw that conclusion from a recent Chinese study. The study examined the influence of ultra-processed foods on muscle strength and muscle mass in people over forty.


Ultra-processed foods are foods that are produced at particularly high temperatures. Like chips, snacks, cookies and pastries. They contain a lot of bad carbohydrates, fats and so-called AGEs (sugared proteins).


The researchers had 5409 men and women over the age of 40 fill out questionnaires for a year to chart their diet. In this way it was possible to determine how many ultra-processed foods were consumed. Grip strength of each participant was measured at the beginning and at the end of the study.


The result? The more ultra-processed foods the study participants ate, the more muscle strength they lost. The researchers concluded that a diet with many ultra-processed foods accelerates the breakdown of muscle mass and muscle strength in people over forty.

The Chinese suspect that a diet with many ultra-processed foods causes AGEs to accumulate in the muscles. As a result, they function less well.


What is interesting about the study is that a direct link is now being made between the quality of food and muscle mass/strength. For muscle growth it is therefore not only important that you eat enough (quantity) but also that you eat healthy (quality). At least, if you are over forty, when muscle loss (atrophy) is lurking. But even in your twenties and thirties you would of course do well to mainly consume unprocessed food, even if it is ‘just’ for your health.

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