Lean Muscle Mass

Finding the Balance in Body Size

Author/Editor: Jennifer J. Lacelle
September 10, 2021

Media in the west has strongly contributed to the idea that being a thin, petite woman is the ideal, that it’s sexier. With society’s most celebrated models being at least a size zero, and generally five-feet, nine-inches tall, it’s a fairly unrealistic expectation for the majority of women. Granted, there are clearly females who fit this range, especially considering sizes now dip into the negative numbers.

This has been going on for decades and isn’t showing signs of slowing down any time soon — even with plus-sized models like Ashley Graham or plus-size musician, Lizzo, becoming front-running celebrities.

Obesity isn’t healthy for the body and comes with a number of complications and issues that can stay with you long-term. However, the same can be said of the reverse. So, the best course of action is to do what’s best for your body and body type.

Overweight Issues

Obesity is defined as a “progressive chronic disease” by Obesity Canada, the Canadian Medical Association, the American Medical Association and the World Health Organization.

So, what are some complications of obesity?

  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Arthritis
  • Cancer
  • Stroke
  • Heart Disease
  • High Blood Pressure

While this isn’t a complete list, it sure is enough reasons to be want a change in lifestyle. Not to mention the mental affects is has on people, including the stigma created by society, all of which combine to create a lesser quality in life.

Some reasons people are overweight is due to medical conditions and energy imbalances. As it pertains to the latter, it means there’s more energy coming in than what someone’s expending. Think calories from food and drink versus activity; some of which can include breathing, digesting, body temperature, or physical activities. Basically, over time your body stores excess fat when you have more coming in than going out.

Medical conditions such as hypothyroidism, Cushing’s syndrome, tumors, polycystic ovary syndrome — better known as PCOS — and some genetic dispositions (Cohen syndrome, Bardet-Biedl syndrome, Prader-Willi syndrome, or Alström syndrome) also play a factor in obesity and weight gain. Some medications can play into this as well.

Underweight Issues

On the opposite end of the spectrum is being underweight, to a point health issues become prevalent in your life.

In women, being underweight can cause problems with the menstrual cycle and pregnancy. There’s also malnutrition, osteoporosis, or depression. It also means your body might not be getting what it needs to help grow your nails, hair, or skin. You might also discover problems arising with your teeth, exhaustion, anemia, or being constantly sick.

Your body is likely experiencing a lack of malnutrition, if the attempt to lose weight is based on diet, since your body isn’t getting the vitamins it needs.

Of course, there are a number of reasons that someone could be underweight, including genetics, mental health, illnesses (physical and chronic), or a high metabolism.

As an adolescent, it can cause issues with growth, or developmental delays. The growing brain needs lots of nutrients to develop properly.

Importance of Lean Muscle Mass

This is where lean muscle mass comes into play as it’s good for the body. That doesn’t mean someone needs to be ripped, like a body builder, but LMM does have benefits.

There are suggestions that muscle is important to insulin resistance, exercise tolerance and fat index. There was a study of obese women involving diet changes, cognitive behavioural therapy and exercise routines. The results showed there was an increase in endurance for anaerobic exercise, decrease in overall body fat and physical weight, and muscle strongly increased. The physical tests done before and after showed the skeletal muscle beings an “independent indicator” in insulin resistance. In other words, there was improvement as the muscles developed.

What else does LMM do for the body? Well, it actually raises your Basal Metabolic Rate which means your body will burn calories faster while you are still.

Developing LMM

There are key components to building up your lean muscle mass, and here’s what you need to know:

  1. Diet

First of all, this doesn’t mean “go on a diet,” but rather it means what you’re eating is influential to building up that beautiful muscle tone! We’ve already mentioned protein once, so let’s get back to that… protein helps develop these muscles so increase it a little bit.

You’ll find eggs, salmon and chicken breast are the top three suggested ways to get that protein intake. Next in line is Greek yogurt, tuna and beef. If you’re vegetarian or vegan, you can find it in protein powder, soybeans, chickpeas or quinoa to name a few.

It’s been discovered in one particular study that the more protein, the better for people over the age of 50. Regardless of the exercise, muscle is built faster and better with extra protein intake. Of course, there is such a thing as too much protein, so let’s not over do it. Always be sure to speak with a health care professional.

  1. Exercise

Yes… the dreaded “e” word has come up, but that’s to be expected. In this case, it isn’t just about weight lifting. Be sure to include a wide variety of activities, cardio will help your heart and lungs, but resistance training, yoga, Pilates and biking can help with the muscle.

When lifting weights, consider the reps and sets in relation to the weight you’re using. You don’t want to damage your body but give yourself a challenge. Make sure you don’t just lift weights… try everything possible: push-ups, pull-ups, triceps dips, lunges, etc.

Ladies, you will not become buff and broad because of lifting weights. It happens in men because of hormonal differences (testosterone). If a woman were to become buff it would need to be purposefully executed with years of training.

*The views and opinions contained within subjects, content, information, data and imagery does not necessarily reflect those of iinta, iinta’s staff, or iinta’s affiliates. This article is not intended to be a replacement for medical diagnosis, information or treatment, etc. ALWAYS see your medical provider. For full disclosure statement, please visit our Disclosure Page.

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