1. Lean Body Mass Combats Obesity:
Lean body mass is associated with your basal metabolic rate (BMR), or the amount of calories you burn at rest. Muscles, even at rest, require energy in the form of calories while fat cells do not. So the greater amount of lean muscle tissue you have, the more calories you burn throughout the day, decreasing the likelihood of excessive fat accumulation and obesity. Obesity is a contributing factor to many chronic diseases such as chronic systemic inflammation, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and non-alcoholic fatty liver.
2. Lean Body Mass can Protect against Diabetes and Insulin Resistance:
Muscle is required to clear glucose from the blood and help to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Insulin resistance is the first step in the progression of diabetes. It occurs when insulin secreted by the pancreas in response to a high sugar meal loses its ability to stimulate muscle to take up glucose from the blood. This results in high blood sugars which can lead to diabetes. In a large scale study of over 13,000 people over a 6-year span conducted by the UCLA School of Medicine, researchers found that higher muscle mass was associated with better insulin sensitivity and a lower risk of developing diabetes. Not only that, they found that for every 10% increase in skeletal muscle mass, there was an 11% decrease in insulin resistance. (2)
3. Lean Body Mass helps Recovery from Illness or Disease:
Illness and disease increase the body’s need for protein in order to heal. Often times the protein needs are far beyond what we can get from our daily diet, thus the breakdown of muscle occurs to meet the increased protein requirement. Individuals with lower levels of muscle mass will have greater difficulty meeting the demands caused by illness. In fact, loss of muscle mass is known to impact the rate of recurrence and survival from cancer. In patients with lung cancer, those who had a decrease in lean body mass due to the cancer and cancer therapy, had a higher rate of recurrence and a worse survival rate than those patients that were able to maintain muscle mass. (3)
4. Lean Body Mass keeps your Bones Strong and Healthy:
It has been shown that greater muscle mass is a consistent predictor of better bone health in older men and women. (4) Not only does muscle contraction create a force on the bone stimulating healthy bone remodeling, several studies have shown a positive correlation between muscle size and bone density and strength. (5) In the Mediterranean Intensive Oxidant Study, researchers found that lower amounts of skeletal muscle mass was correlated with weaker and thinner bones in elderly men. (6) Keeping your bones strong and healthy as you age requires the maintenance of adequate muscle mass and function.
5. Lean Body Mass Reduces your Risk of Falls and Fractures:
Reduced lean tissue, especially in the lower-leg muscles, is associated with poor balance and increased risk of falls and fractures. A 2015 report from the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research found that people with decreased muscle mass had 2.3 times the risk of falling and breaking a bone, such as a hip, collarbone, leg, arm, or wrist. (7) Hip fracture is the most serious consequence of falling because it is not only associated with a high risk of death during the first year post- fracture, but also increases the risk of mortality for up to 10 years.
Beers MH, Jones TV, Berkwits M, et al, eds. The Merck Manual of Geriatrics. Whitehouse Station, NJ: Merck Research Laboratories; 2009-2010: Section 3, chapter 31; Section 7, chapter 48; Section 8, chapter 66.
Hornberger, T. (2014). Faculty of 1000 evaluation for Relative muscle mass is inversely associated with insulin resistance and prediabetes. Findings from the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. F1000 – Post-publication peer review of the biomedical literature. doi:10.3410/f.718307005.793492146
Kadar, L., Albertsson, M., Areberg, J., Landberg, T., & Mattsson, S. (2006). The Prognostic Value of Body Protein in Patients with Lung Cancer. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 904(1), 584-591. doi:10.1111/j.1749-6632.2000.tb06520.x
Scott, D. (2016). Influence of Sarcopenic and Dynapenic Obesity on Musculoskeletal Health and Function in Older Adults. Nutritional Influences on Bone Health, 35-48. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-32417-3_4
Edwards, M. H., Gregson, C. L., & Patel, H. P. et al.(2013). Muscle size, strength, and physical performance and their associations with bone structure in the Hertfordshire Cohort Study. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, 28(11), 2295-2304. doi:10.1002/jbmr.
Szulc, P., Beck, T. J., Marchand, F., & Delmas, P. D. (2004). Low Skeletal Muscle Mass Is Associated With Poor Structural Parameters of Bone and Impaired Balance in Elderly Men-The MINOS Study. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research,20(5), 721-729. doi:10.1359/jbmr.041230
Publishing, H. H. (n.d.). Protein at every meal may help preserve muscle strength as you age. Retrieved February 04, 2018, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/protein-at-every-meal-may-help-preserve-muscle-strength-as-you-age