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What Does Lean Body Mass Mean?


How to Calculate Lean Body Mass

In the fitness and weight loss world, the term “lean body mass” is often thrown around, but unless you have spent extensive time reading up on medical weight loss and health, it can be a little confusing. The team at Soza Weight Loss is committed to helping you along your fitness journey and helping you lose weight in healthy ways. If this includes becoming leaner for you, then we are happy to clear up any confusion and get a solid plan in place for how you can achieve a leaner you. Essentially, lean body mass includes the weight of the following elements within the body:

  • Organs
  • Skin
  • Bones
  • Body water
  • Muscle mass

To calculate lean body mass, simply subtract your body fat percentage from your total weight. For example, if you weight 200 pounds and know that your body fat percentage is 20%, multiple 200 x .20. This will give you your total fat in pounds, which would equal 40 pounds. Subtracting that number from your overall weight will tell you that you have 160 pounds of lean body mass, or 80% lean body mass.

A healthy range of lean body mass is considered to be around 70-90%, with women being on the lower end of that range and men being on the higher end. The more lean body mass you have, the higher your metabolism likely is. It is important to have a healthy lean body mass because this will boost your metabolism and make it easier to maintain the healthy weight you desire. Studies have also shown that a high proportion of lean mass reduces inflammation because the small fat cells in lean individuals promote healthy function, while enlarged fat cells in overweight or obese people promote chronic disease and inflammation.

Lean Body Mass vs. BMI

When you are trying to lose weight, we know it can be exhausting learning about all the different ways to calculate your ideal weight. Lean body mass and BMI are both helpful tools that give insight into slightly different information. BMI is the most widely used method of identifying individuals for further assessment of cardiometabolic risk, but it does not differentiate between fat mass and lean body mass.

Because of the key details that these numbers exclude from the picture, we want to make sure our patients are aware that weight does not have a direct correlation to health. Statistics surrounding BMI, or body mass index, are often what we use to determine obesity rates. If a BMI is higher than 25, an individual is considered overweight, and if it is above 30, they are considered obese. The easiest way to know your BMI is to get a high-tech body fat scale or to go to the doctor for a BMI screening.

While the BMI is a great way to gain insight into the approximate level of fat in the body and can help you determine if you are at a healthy weight for your height, but it does not actually tell you how healthy you are on the inside. A report from the Queensland Health Department estimated that 23% of those who are not currently overweight or obese are at risk of becoming so in the future. Your BMI will not give you any insight into this possibility, nor will it let you know what lifestyle changes you can make to see a positive difference in your overall health.

How to Develop Lean Body Mass

Even when your muscles are at rest, they require energy in the form of calories, while fat cells do not. The more lean tissue you have, the more calories you are able to burn throughout the day. This decreases your chances of accumulating excessive fat and of developing obesity. On the flip side, a low lean body mass can increase the risk of side effects from medications. It also speeds up age-related muscle loss and reduces physical ability, which puts you at a greater risk of injury and disability.

If you are trying to lose weight, it is especially important to pay attention to lean body mass. Oftentimes, those who go on diets skimp on protein or exercise. A study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that those who follow a weight loss diet that is low in protein lost more lean body fat than those who ate protein during their diet. If they did not participate in resistance training during a weight loss diet, about 25% of any weight they lose comes from lean body mass instead of fat, which is not ideal.

The exact diet and fitness regimen needed for ideal health and needs will vary from person to person, but it is important to keep lean body mass in mind if you are trying to lose weight. In order to develop lean body mass, you will want to take the following steps, and the way that you should achieve each of them will look a little different for everyone:

  • Reducing total body fat
  • Increasing muscle mass
  • Maintaining lean muscle mass

For personalized tips to help you through your weight loss journey, and to learn how to build lean body mass in a way that is healthy for you, call Soza Weight Loss at (504) 475-9817 or contact us online today.