Facts About Lean Muscle and Body Fat

The body is an amazing organism made up of many different elements, including various types of tissue, bone, organ and fluid. Two of which, lean muscle and body fat, are discussed most often when it comes to exercise and a sustainable lifestyle. We exercise and monitor our nutritional intake to order to build one, lean muscle, while trying to lose the other, body fat (also known as adipose tissue).

How Much Lean Muscle Does the Average Adult Carry?

Skeletal muscle is the most abundant tissue in our body, accounting for approximately 42 percent and 35 percent of body weight in men and women respectively. In other words, an average male weighing 185 pounds has about 78 pounds of lean muscle tissue while a female weighing 140 pounds has approximately 49 pounds of lean muscle tissue. Take muscle and fat out of the equation, and bodyweight still has other constituents like, water, mineral, bone, connective tissue, and organ weight. Speaking of organ weight, did you know the average human heart weighs about 10 oz. while the brain weighs about 3 pounds? That same average male may have, on average, about 25 percent body fat (or 46 pounds of fat) while that average female may have 30 percent body fat (or 42 pounds of fat).

Did You Know this About Lean Muscle…

One of the amazing things about muscle tissue is that it has the ability through regular, progressive, resistance exercise, to increase in size (known as muscle hypertrophy). Donnelly and colleagues have reported that strength training studies (lasting from 8 to 52 weeks) have shown increases of 2.2 to 4.5 pounds of muscle mass. In addition to increasing in size, muscle tissue also gets stronger with prolonged training. A periodized strength training program can elicit changes in endurance capacity, power output and force production while keeping sarcopenia at bay.

Protein stores found in muscle can account for about 30,000 calories of energy. Muscle tissue can contribute approximately 20 percent of the body’s total daily energy expenditure compared to 5 percent for fat tissue (it would be great if we could tap into those fat stores more often).

Lean muscle tissue requires 3-4 times more calories to maintain compared to fat and is important in the process of energy metabolism. A pound of metabolically active muscle tissue requires 5-7 calories per pound to maintain while less active fat tissue, requires only 2 calories per pound.

Finally, muscle plays an important role in the aging process. With advancing age we experience a loss of exercise capacity. This is due to first, to a decline in skeletal muscle mass and strength during aging and then a decrease in maximal oxygen uptake mainly due to a drop in maximal heart rate, according to Henning Wackerhage, PhD, a Senior Lecturer in Molecular Exercise Physiology at the University of Aberdeen.

Did you Know this About Fat…

Fat is found in the body in the form of triglycerides and stored in fat cells which are called adipocytes. According to Coyle, about 50,000 to 60,000 calories of energy are stored in fat cells throughout the body. Fat can also be stored within skeletal muscle cells.

Fat accumulated in the lower body is subcutaneous. While fat in the abdominal area is largely visceral. Where fat ends up on your body is influenced by several factors, including hormones and heredity.

The photo below shows equivalent amounts of fat and muscle. Lean muscle, however, is more dense and takes up one-third less space compared to fat. Five pounds of muscle and fat may in fact weigh the same but that is where the similarities end.

Source: Reddit

One thing is for certain, we typically want more lean muscle and less body fat. Regular strength training is a much needed critical component for everything from health to activities of daily living. Check out some of the many great strength training routines found on Jefit, like the FitBody Plan. Stay strong with Jefit.

References

Marieb, EN and Hoehn, K. (2010). Human Anatomy and Physiology (8th ed.). San Francisco: Benjamin Cummings.

Elia, M. (1999). Organ and Tissue Contribution to Metabolic Weight. Energy Metabolism: Tissue Determinants and Cellular Corollaries. Kinney, J.M., Tucker, H.N., eds. Raven Press. New York.

Donnelly, J.E., Jakicic, J.M., et. al. (2003). Is Resistance Training Effective for Weight Management Evidence-Based Preventive Medicine. 1(1): 21-29.

Wackerhage, H. (2014). Molecules, Aging and Exercise in Molecular Exercise Physiology. Routledge.

Wood, M. (2018). TBC30: 6 Steps to a Stronger and Healthier You. Wicked Whale Publishing.

Coyle, EF. (1995). Fat metabolism during exercise. Sports Science Exchange, 8(6):59.

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Moving Towards a More Healthy Lifestyle

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No one needs to tell us that we’re currently living in unprecedented times. The health of everyone in this country, and worldwide for that matter, is at the forefront of all our minds. It is more important than ever to attempt to follow a healthy lifestyle. How do you know if you’re living a healthy lifestyle in the first place? Harvard Health reports you’re considered healthy if you can answer “yes” to all the following criteria. (1) healthy diet, (2) healthy body weight, (3) never smoked, (4) consume moderate amounts of alcohol and (5) exercise regularly.

What’s Considered a Healthy Lifestyle?

According to Harvard Health, one important component to this type of lifestyle is a healthy diet. Meaning, an “intake of healthy foods like vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, healthy fats, and omega-3 fatty acids”. In addition, avoid unhealthy foods like “processed meats, sugar-sweetened beverages, trans fat, and sodium.” No smoking in a no-brainer. A healthy body weight according to the site, is a body mass index (BMI), between 18.5 and 24.9. But to be honest, this is not the best metric to monitor, instead focus on your percent body fat. On the alcohol side, no more than one drink/day/women and two drinks/day/men. A healthy physical activity level means roughly 30-minutes of moderate to vigorous activity most days of the week.

Does Living a Healthy Lifestyle Actually Add Years to Your Life?

The research does in fact demonstrate that living a healthy lifestyle can add years to your life. Individuals who met the criteria for all five habits (listed above) enjoyed living longer lives than those who had none: 14 years for women and 12 years for men to be exact. People who had none of these habits “were far more likely to die prematurely from cancer or cardiovascular disease.” There is also additional research that reports similar findings to this in the Journal of American Medical Association.

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Are you getting a minimum of 30-minutes of moderate or vigorous activity most days of the week?

You probably have the exercise piece down already, especially if you’re using the Jefit app to help record and track your workouts. Here are some additional ways to move towards a healthy lifestyle, in addition to the five criteria mentioned in the research studies above.

10 Ways to Help You Live Better and Longer

Exercise

  • Burn 1,100 Calories a Week. Duke University scientists discovered that this amount of calories expended from exercise prevents the accumulation of visceral adipose tissue (fat). This type of belly fat causes arterial inflammation and hypertension. Are you falling short of this number? Try joining a sports a league. One study reported that people who exercised in groups boosted their average weekly calorie burn by 500 a week.
  • Hit the Weights. University of Michigan scientists found that people who completed three strength workouts/week for two months lowered their diastolic blood pressure by an average of eight points. That’s enough to reduce the risk of stroke by 40% and heart attack by 15%.
  • Find the Time to Exercise. People who exercise for 2 hours/week are less likely to feel stressed than their sedentary counterparts, say researchers from Denmark.
  • Get on Those Daily Chores. Doing 150 calories’ worth of chores a day can lower blood pressure by 13 points, according to Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. The reduction lasts only 8 hours, but make it a daily habit and you can lower your blood pressure in the long term.

Diet & Nutrition

  • Drink Five 8-Ounce Glasses of Water a Day. Those drinking this amount of H2O were 54% less likely to suffer a fatal heart attack compared to people who drank two glasses a day.
  • Try a Natural Remedy. Israeli scientists found eating one grapefruit a day lowers cholesterol by 20% even in people who don’t respond to statins.
  • Cut Down on Sweets. Tufts University researchers found low-sugar diets had lower levels of depression and anxiety than those who consumed all types of carbohydrates. The happier people also limited their total carbohydrate intake to 40% of their daily total calories.
  • Enjoy Your Joe. Brooklyn College researchers discovered drinking 4 cups of coffee a day lowers your risk of dying of heart disease by 53%.
  • Indulge Your Chocolate Craving. A 15-year study by Dutch scientists found men who ate 4 grams of cocoa/day had half the risk of dying from heart disease than those who ate less. That’s the equivalent of two 25-calorie Hershey Kisses – an amount that can fit into any diet.

Lifestyle

  • Try to Laugh More. A 15-minute funny video improves blood flow to your heart by 50%, reported by the University of Maryland. “This may reduce blood-clot formation, cholesterol deposition, and inflammation,” says study author Michael Miller, MD.

Hopefully this article has offered you a little more insight on what constitutes a healthy lifestyle. If so, maybe you feel like you’re more equipped now to live a more healthy, sustainable lifestyle. Continue to focus on improving your mind body & spirit a bit more each day. Be Well and Stay Strong!

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