Lean Body Mass Can Help Forestall Osteoporosis, Particularly in Men

Janet Tiberian Author
By Janet Tiberian, MA, MPH, CHES
April 9, 2022
Lean Body Mass Can Help Forestall Osteoporosis, Particularly in Men

Most men aren’t too concerned about their own bone density. Understandably so. Bone thinning affects far more women than men. Take hips for example. Hip osteopenia is prevalent in 56 percent of women and 18 percent of men and hip osteoporosis affects 16 percent of women and 2 percent of men, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine Research

Osteoporosis Risk Factors

Women have a higher risk for osteoporosis because their skeletal frames are smaller than men’s, but men are also at risk – as many as two million American men have full-blown osteoporosis. And it can be just as debilitating for men as it is for women. This why it’s important for men to protect their bones.  

Testosterone and estrogen help maintain strong bones. And while both hormones wane with age, weakening bones, the rapid drop of estrogen women experience during perimenopause can lead to significant bone loss. Low testosterone levels can also affect the bone health of men.

So can smoking, excessive alcohol, a poor diet, a lack of weight bearing activities. But a recent study shed light on a significant, once unrealized risk that affects men more than women -- fat mass. Obesity has a negative effect on bones, according to research published in The Journal of Clinical Epidemiology & Metabolism.  

“These results are interesting. Many previous studies suggested having a higher body weight may protect bones. Weight places stress on bones, strengthening them,” says Bernard Kaminetsky, MD, medical director, MDVIP. “However, some researchers questioned whether if the benefit was from having a higher total weight (including fat mass) or more specifically, a higher lean body mass (internal organs, bones, muscles, ligaments and tendons). This study helps answer that question.”

Researchers from University of Chicago Medicine obtained more than 10,800 records of people under 60 years old via the 2011-2018 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) and analyzed bone mineral density and body composition data. They found a positive association between lean mass and bone mineral density in both genders and a negative association between fat mass in bone mineral density also in both genders but particularly among men.

Lean Body Mass

Your lean body mass should range between 70 and 90 percent of your body weight. Generally, men are on the higher end of the range and women on the lower. Besides bone health, having higher percentage of lean body mass also helps:

As you age, you lose muscle mass. By the time you hit 50, you’re losing between one and two percent of your muscle mass each year. This makes maintaining your lean body mass a lifetime commitment. If you’re part of an MDVIP-affiliated practices, your doctor may use tools such as an InBody Scale to measure your body composition every year, which includes both body fat and lean body mass percentages. You can use this information to set goals and modify your lifestyle accordingly. Here are four tips than can help.

  1. Engage in resistance training several times a week. This can include free weights, weight machines, body weight exercises and Pilates. If you don’t know how to begin a strength training program, hire a personal trainer, ask for help at your gym or take classes with a qualified instructor.
  2. Do some aerobic activity. Aerobic exercise helps burn fat, raising your lean muscle mass. American College of Sports Medicine recommends 150 minutes per week of moderately intense cardiorespiratory exercise like running, cycling, swimming or walking.  
  3. Get enough sleep. Strive for seven to eight hours of sleep every night. Sleep helps your body maintain the energy levels it needs to work out and repairs muscle tissues damaged during training. 
  4. Clean up your diet. Whole grains, lean protein, vegetables and fruit should staple foods in your diet. Limit saturated fats, sugars and processed foods – including protein bars, gels and powders. Whole foods are more beneficial to your overall health and body composition than supplements that may be jacked with sugar and/or lack micronutrients. If you’re trying to lose weight, be careful of aggressive dieting. Losing weight can leave you susceptible to bone loss.

“My advice to men trying to raise their lean body mass, ultimately improving their bone health is to work with their primary care physician,” says Kaminetsky. “Your PCP should be consulted before making changes to your diet and exercise routine. And they can help you stay on top of bone density screenings.”

If you don’t have a primary care doctor, consider partnering with an MDVIP-affiliated physician. They have time to really work with you and develop a wellness plan that can help you maintain your bone health. Find a physician near you and begin your partnership in health » 

Similar Posts
How to Prevent Osteoporosis / Janet Tiberian, MA, MPH, CHES / May 3, 2021
Osteoporosis: What You Need to Know / Janet Tiberian, MA, MPH, CHES / April 16, 2021
Researchers Identify 3 New Osteoporosis Risk Factors / Janet Tiberian, MA, MPH, CHES / April 20, 2015

About the Author
Janet Tiberian Author
Janet Tiberian, MA, MPH, CHES

Janet Tiberian is MDVIP's health educator. She has more than 25 years experience in chronic disease prevention and therapeutic exercise.

View All Posts By Janet Tiberian, MA, MPH, CHES
Physician Locator
Enter a full address, city, state, or ZIP code. You can also browse our city directory to find physicians in your area.
Enter Doctor's Name