Toned Muscles May Help Beat Diabetes

285 TonedMusclesIncrease your muscle mass to decrease your risk of insulin resistance and prediabetes.

Need another good reason to pump iron in the gym? New research indicates that the greater an individual’s total muscle mass, the lower the risk of insulin resistance, a precursor to Type 2 diabetes.

Insulin resistance is a physiological condition where the natural hormone insulin becomes less effective at lowering blood sugars. Over time, blood sugars remain higher than normal and the condition can lead to diabetes.

There is a litany of reasons to incorporate strength training into your fitness routine, including toned muscles, leaner appearance, improved strength, increased metabolism, and reduced risk of osteoporosis. If these things aren’t reason enough, this latest research might be enough to spur you to the weight room. With the incidence of insulin resistance on the rise, here’s an opportunity to take charge and keep it at bay.

Researchers evaluated data from 13,644 people over age 20 to examine the relationship between muscle mass and insulin resistance and blood glucose metabolism disorders. The results indicated a clear relationship between muscle mass and insulin resistance. Individuals with higher muscle mass were more sensitive to insulin and had a lower risk of prediabetes and diabetes.

While previous research has shown that low muscle mass is a risk factor for insulin resistance, scientists have not known whether increasing muscle mass would help improve blood glucose regulation—until now. This recent study shows that improving muscle mass does have an effect.

The rates of obesity, insulin resistance, and diabetes are skyrocketing. In an effort to prevent and manage diabetes and heart disease, physicians typically monitor waist circumference and body-mass index (BMI). This new research indicates that it might be important to monitor muscle mass as well.

The bottom line—if you have not yet incorporated some strength training into your fitness regimen, now is the time. Not only will you look and feel great, you’ll be taking steps to stay healthy for life.


Srikanthan P, Karlamangla AS. Relative muscle mass is inversely associated with insulin resistance and prediabetes: Findings from The Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. 2011; 96(9): 2898-2903.