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Really dumb question - why do we care about preserving lean body mass?

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  • #16
    This girl is a good example of why we care:

    Meet Staci: Your New Powerlifting Super Hero | Nerd Fitness

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    • #17
      I think this is actually a very good question.

      And some of our colleagues have noted part of the answer. If a person is significantly obese (say Type II or III), the amount of muscle needed just to move that person around will be substantial.

      If such a person were to lose weight down to something approaching healthy weight on the BMI, even if they held onto lots of lean mass, they just wouldn't need as much to carry the significantly reduced weight around.

      And trying to keep all that muscle-mass might put that person in the position of looking like a body builder or something. If that's what you want, then fine. But for most people, that level of musculature isn't what a lot of people are looking for.

      That being said, then yes, lean mass burns more calories, etc. But perhaps the thing to look at is lean mass as a ratio or total to total mass. So if you are reducing total mass, then the actual amount of lean mass will go down, but the percentage might go up.

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      • #18
        Okay, so here's another illustration. I can wear a size 4 woman's pants. That's a respectable size. I even have a size 2 in my closet that fits comfortably. However, I cannot wear a pair of Ugg boots. Now don't just poo-poo that with "ugg boots are ugly." I cannot wear any boots that come up to your calves. I don't think I've ever had any hair on the backs of my calves due to how tights pants tend to be there. I don't lift like Staci, either.

        I guess Dan understands here. That if you lose weight you won't need so much muscle. I want more muscle on my upper body, but less fat AND muscle on the lower body. I just want to be strong enough. I don't want to be an upside-down Pop-eye.
        Female, 5'3", 50, Max squat: 202.5lbs. Max deadlift: 225 x 3.

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        • #19
          Well lean mass is also organs and bones (minerals) and such. So when you lose lean mass it could also be coming from those sources. Not good. There is just no good reason to jettison the good stuff. Losing lean mass with fat will also not improve your strength/weight ratio. Some people are interested in being better able to control their own bodies in space which is where strength/weight is quite important.

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          • #20
            Muscle is much easier to lose than fat. If your calves really bother you, de-emphasize them in your training. Overall, though, I wouldn't mess around with overall lean mass until you've lost all the fat you want to lose. Once you're there, then you can play around with fine tuning. I knew a figure competitor who purposely had to lose lean mass in her shoulders to fit the competition standard, even as she was trying like crazy to build up her lats.

            There's nothing wrong with wanting to look a certain way. But take it from someone who has been on both sides of the spectrum, the muscle really does help you lose fat.

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            • #21
              And I'll throw in Martin's take from LeanGains.

              Train Like A Man, Look Like A Goddess | Intermittent fasting diet for fat loss, muscle gain and health
              http://www.facebook.com/daemonized

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              • #22
                Originally posted by Daemonized View Post

                +1

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                • #23
                  for me, it's mostly about bone, neurological, and circulatory health.

                  I know this seems a little nutty, but the reality is that healthy, strong muscles that function well maintain good circulation throughout the body, increase/maintain bone density, and maintains (and improves) neurological function throughout the body (because to maintain lean mass, we need to move/workout, and doing that, we create better neurological connections throughout the body).

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                  • #24
                    I hear you and understand where you're coming from. I was a soccer player in college, and still play recreationally. I had huge thighs and huge calves. While pregnant with DD though, I was put on bedrest for 4 weeks. Certainly changes your muscles! As the weight came off after the pregnancy, I found my body shape very different. My calves are still pretty big, but I can fit into clothes now. Even as I lift now my body is just leaning out in general.

                    I think you should skip the heavy lifting for your low body for a while. Stick to upper body weight training and maybe even do a little less hiking. Your calves are likely bigger to help you hike around the woods and climb hills.

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                    • #25
                      Originally posted by Mr. Anthony View Post
                      This girl is a good example of why we care:

                      Meet Staci: Your New Powerlifting Super Hero | Nerd Fitness
                      Staci is my hero. She weighs as much as I do and I look *nothing* like her.

                      Originally posted by Philosopher Dan View Post
                      I think this is actually a very good question.

                      And some of our colleagues have noted part of the answer. If a person is significantly obese (say Type II or III), the amount of muscle needed just to move that person around will be substantial.

                      If such a person were to lose weight down to something approaching healthy weight on the BMI, even if they held onto lots of lean mass, they just wouldn't need as much to carry the significantly reduced weight around.
                      I always thought this was true, but I followed a link- from Peter Attia's site? I'm not sure. It was to another MD's site. A surgeon, maybe? He said obese people had shockingly atrophied muscles. I will try to find it again. It completely defied logic, but I've never seen any other evidence of what lean mass overweight people carry.
                      Originally posted by Daemonized View Post
                      OK, another idol. I know by the time I get down to 130lbs, I will be a saggy bag of fat and bones. Lean muscle mass is my next project.
                      50yo, 5'3"
                      SW-195
                      CW-125, part calorie counting, part transition to primal
                      GW- Goals are no longer weight-related

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                      • #26
                        I forgot images have to be approved




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                        • #27
                          Carrying a little extra muscle will make you more resilient to life stresses. One of the bigger indicators of health is having plenty of muscle. The less you have the greater the likelihood of death from all causes. Sickness to traumatic causes. Don't intentionally lose muscle mass. Real men find it sexy anyhow.

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                          • #28
                            Other people have mentioned these things, but to summarize:
                            Muscle mass is positively correlated with decreased morbidity- you might live just as long, but you'll be healthier and more independent
                            Muscle mass provides the "tone" that most people are looking for when they say they want to look "toned".
                            And to quote Rippetoe, "Strong people are harder to kill, and more useful in general."

                            Especially for women, the activities that you go through to develop muscle mass will also help to keep bone density high.

                            All of this combined means you stay fitter, get injured less often, and injured less severely than someone with less muscle mass.

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                            • #29
                              You know how you sometimes see these really big guys who have massive calves? That's me. Wouldn't people like us not need to care very much about losing muscle mass? You hear so much about preserving it, making sure you don't lose one bit of it, but don't some of us have too much lower body muscle from carrying around big huge bodies?
                              i think the amount of muscle you have on your calves is genetic. i was actually discussing this with the personal trainer at my gym. i cant post a pic of my calves but they are about 14.75" at the widest and from my knee to the floor is about 19". I am 5ft 51/4 and have about a 32-33" inside leg. i dont ever train my calves. they arent huge but they have mean muscle definition. long and lean without being weedy. the male personal trainer at my gym is 6ft and trains hard. i can smoke him on the seated calf raise by literally double the weight. there was a woman at the gym today doing hack squats. she could smoke me totally on the hack squat and pretty much everything else i would imagine. her thighs were huge and her calfs were tinsy compared to mine. however i would have said we had the same amount of fat on our legs. we are all just different shapes. from the pics on your avatar you look good and your legs look in proportion. be happy. not many women our age can say that. usually too when you lose muscle mass, doesnt your fat go up?

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                              • #30
                                Along the line of what Teach2183 said, but on an estimate, how many miles have you hiked? That has to have something to do with big calves. My wife has freakishly large calves too, she can't wear all the nice boots that she likes...
                                I Kettlebell therefore I am.

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