Are you looking to lose weight, get lean and toned, look more athletic, or build muscle?
Then the key to achieving your goal is to improve your body composition - which means you need to lower body fat percentage and build lean muscle mass.
Body composition is the ratio of lean body mass (muscle, bone, connective tissue, etc) to adipose mass (fat mass). This is very important for people who want low body fat and gain good muscle tone - to look lean and strong! Too many people only focus on the number you see on the scale every morning. What is more important is your percent body fat and skeletal muscle mass. By achieving and maintaining an ideal body fat percentage and building muscle definition, you will look and feel better, be healthier, and more resilient throughout your life. Bonus - when you have more muscle you can eat more food because your metabolism is higher. The higher your metabolism the more calories you have to eat to maintain your body weight.
So what is the lean body mass definition? And is there a difference between skeletal muscle vs muscle mass?
Lean body mass includes all of your body parts that do not contain fat; also called fat free mass. These body parts include your bones, skin, organs, muscle mass, and body water. Also, skeletal muscle mass is the same as muscle mass, and these terms can be used interchangeably.
Many people just want to see the scale number drop and to lose fat so they will cut calories through a deprivation diet (typically a fad diet) and do countless hours of cardio to burn calories. This will drop the number you see on the scale, but it comes at a cost long term. This strategy will help you lose body fat, but you will lose muscle mass too. Lean muscles are your metabolic engine. Meaning, you will not be able to eat all that delicious food you love so much without building lean muscle!
Unfortunately, men and women do not have the same body fat percentage requirements - they have different body fat percentages based on their biological needs. Women need to maintain a slightly higher body fat percentage than men to keep their hormones and body healthy. The graphic below shows examples of body weight fat percentage by gender.
Body Fat Percentages for Men & Women
If you want the best body of your life and to keep it for years to come, then you need to shift your focus away from the number on the scale to your body composition. You should focus on building muscle and burning fat. And the best way to build lean muscle mass and lower your higher body fat percentage into a good body fat level is by eating healthy, exercising, and sleeping the right way. To learn what the right way is - check out our 8-Week Challenge that teaches you simple to follow lifestyle changes to get the best body of your life.
Further, many people will try to change their body fat distribution by spot reducing fat from their belly, butt, arms, etc... We have even had a person ask if they could get rid of their neck fat! Unfortunately, this is not possible, and you have to focus on reducing your body fat levels across your entire body.
To start, you need to measure your body composition. And the best way to calculate your body fat mass and lean mass is with a body composition analysis or a lean body mass calculator.
To find out the importance of building lean muscle and how to calculate it, keep reading.
How to check muscle mass and how to calculate lean body mass
A good lean muscle percentage range should be about 70% to 90% to be considered healthy. That means your body fat percentage ranges from 10-30%. Athletes typically range in the 7-22% body fat for maximum performance.
Men tend to be on the higher side with lean mass in 80-90% range and woman in the 70-85% range. Please note that you can be too lean, and that men typically don't want to fall below 5% body fat and women typically don't want to fall below 12-14% body fat. When your fat percentage falls too low, you can start to experience hormonal and health issues associated with too low of a body fat percentage. This is because there is an essential body fat percentage you need to sustain good health. So the goal is to achieve a healthy body fat percentage in relation to lean mass. For men, you should target around 9 percent body fat, and for women you should target around 17 percent bodyfat. These numbers vary based on your body type and genetics - so consult your doctor if you have questions or concerns.
To learn how to determine muscle mass and find out your body composition you will need the means to measure your lean mass tissue and your body fat tissue. There are multiple ways how to determine lean body mass including ultra sound scans, fat calipers, electrical impedance scans, etc... A quick Google search can provide you with details on the accuracy and cost of each. Your gym may even provide this service for free or a small charge!
Once you know your lean body mass and fat mass numbers you can then create a plan to improve your body composition. Likely, you will want to increase your lean muscle mass and decrease your fat mass to accomplish your goals.
*side note: Women should also be concerned with their bone density. Osteoporosis is a big issue for many women as they age, and new research is showing that the actions a woman takes in their teens and twenties plays a huge impact on their bone density throughout their lives. The first step women should take is to do a bone mass calculator and to figure out the ideal bone mass percentage for their age.
What Is The Importance Of Lean Body Mass?
Lean body mass is so important. Lean muscle mass is the major engine of our metabolism - meaning the more lean muscle you have the higher your metabolism. Meaning you can eat more and not gain weight!
Having higher lean mass also helps combat illnesses such as diabetes and insulin resistance, and can assist you during your recovery after an illness. Higher lean body mass also ensures your muscles and bones remain strong and healthy as you age.
Comparing Lean Body Mass And BMI
Both lean body mass and Body Mass Index (BMI) can be used as indicators for good health. But your weight alone only reveals how much you weigh and not the composition of what makes up that weight. This leads to the the logical questions,"What's my lean body mass?" Because, knowing how much of your weight is made up of fat and healthy muscle will lead you to make more healthy lifestyle choices.
BMI is calculated using your height and weight but does not account for the composition of your weight. It is a good starting point, but it is incomplete if lasting health is your goal. . Lean muscle mass is more dense than fat mass. Lean body mass is a better indicator of your overall health, and making healthy lifestyle decisions such as eating healthy and getting enough exercise will improve your overall health.
Muscle vs Fat Weight Picture
How To Improve Your Lean Body Mass
To improve your lean body mass, you should consider eating a healthy whole food diet, adding a protein powder supplement, and strength training. Whole foods are any foods that come from the earth directly with little to no processing. If it grows on, or in, the earth it is a whole food. If it walks, swims, or flies on the earth it is a whole food. These foods should account for 80% of your calories. Processed foods (comes in a box or package) should be limited to the 20%. As for strength training, your options are almost endless. You can do body weight exercises, weight training, banded resistance training, or a strength training class to help build lean muscle tissue and gain muscle strength.
A good diet with high protein, regular exercise, drinking enough water, and getting enough sleep will aid the process as well - basically, live a healthy lifestyle. Living a healthy lifestyle will help to increase your lean tissue and reduce your subcutaneous and visceral fat. These are just a few tips on how to improve your body composition. Note: if you are eating clean and still not losing weight, then read this article to find out why. 4 reasons you're eating clean and not losing weight.
Age vs Lean Body Mass
It is usual for older people to have a significant amount more body fat than younger people, irrespective of the same BMI range. As you age, it is common to lose lean body mass by about 3% to 8% every ten years on average once you are past 30 years old. Subsequently, your metabolism reduces as you age because of the loss of lean mass, and so it is pretty normal to gain more fat. Age related muscle loss is common past 30, but not necessary. To slow, and or minimize, this effect you can follow the suggestions above and provided in the linked articles throughout this article.
Too many people focus on losing weight by seeing the number on the scale drop, but this is not the best way to improve your health and get the body you want. The better measurement is body composition. Your body composition is the ratio of lean tissue to fat tissue. A healthy body composition ranges from 90% lean tissue and 10% body fat to 70% lean tissue and 30% body fat. Athletes' body fat typically ranges from 8% to 22%. These ranges depend on age and gender.
The best way to improve your lean body mass and body composition is through healthy living - whole food diet that is high in protein, regular exercise and strength training, good sleep, and staying hydrated. If you want to start living your healthiest, best life, then shift your focus from the scale to body composition today! And to get results fast and that you can sustainable maintain throughout your life - check out our 8-Week Challenge.
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