Muscle Mass Defines Diabetes

May 07, 2023

Muscle Mass Defines Type 2 Diabetes

What does muscle mass have to do with diabetes? Very simple. You take up glucose in your muscles. If you lose muscle mass, you run out of places to put the glucose, so the glucose level in the blood starts to climb. Your insulin level then starts to climb. But as Grandma used to say, "You can't put five pounds of sugar in a four-pound bag." Insulin resistance ensues. Insulin is damaging to your kidneys and stimulates you to hang on to sodium. Blood pressure goes up. Metabolic syndrome develops. Voila. And it all started because you lose muscle mass. Conclusion: Muscle mass loss causes diabetes.

Does that sound too simplistic? What's the data? Actually, recently quite a lot. Studies have been conducted around the world, surprisingly, less so in the USA. From Japan, for example. In this study, two groups with 198 men, one with diabetes and one that was normal, had bioelectrical impedance analysis of their body to measure muscle mass. The men with diabetes had significantly less muscle mass. The loss was most pronounced in their legs.

A much larger study from Korea was comprised of 113,913 men and 89,854 women who were free of Type 2 diabetes at baseline. During 589,098 person-years of follow-up, 4,264 individuals developed Type 2 diabetes. Comparing quartile groups to relative risk, the next quartile still had a 2.2 fold increased risk for women and 2.0 increased risk for me....and dropping off with increasing muscle mass.

All of these studies speak to a more simple, global observation from the last 20 years. Muscle mass predicts longevity. The first research came out in just 2011 by Dr. Rosenberg indicating that "sacopenia" was a strong indicator of mortality.  Loss of muscle makes for loss of places for glucose to be use.  Blood levels of glucose rise.  Insulin rises in response.   Muscles become stuffed with glucose and insulin resistant.  

This observation may explain why being "obese" isn't always so bad for you, if you have kept your muscle mass. It is bad for you the extra weight has increased your risk for diabetes, which it frequently does. But the core observation remains, more muscle, longer life. Muscle gives a place for glucose to go. Muscle burns calories around the clock shifting metabolism from glucose driven to ketone driven. Glucose helps you gain weight, make inflammation, make babies, but it doesn't help you live longer. Ketosis is always anti-inflammatory and supportive of building more plasmalogens. Plasmalogens are another strong indicator of longevity. And it all comes down to the amount of muscle you have.

www.What will Work for me? This line of logic makes physiological sense. The number one "anti-aging" activity we can all do is some form of exercise. All forms. Cardio has its own benefits. Weight lifting and resistance has its particular help with building muscle. And, as the time honored Hawaiian Retired Men's Study from 1998 showing that men who walked just 1.2 miles a day had a 20% reduction in mortality. Bike riding up an incline can be pretty cardio. We're going this afternoon. It's summer. Find a way to get out and do whatever that stretches your ability to exert.

References: Metab Syn Related Disorders, Open Access Govt, PLOS One, Am Jr Medicine, Sci American, NEJM, Clin Inter Aging,

Pop Quiz

1. Which comes first, muscle mass loss or diabetes?                                   Answer: That is not apparent in these studies.

2. Muscle mass is dependent upon what main feature?                                  Answer: Use it or lose it. Without use, your muscle shrink. With use, they grow

3. Why is muscle mass helpful for diabetes?                                  Answer: it gives a destination for glucose.

4. Might I be correct in saying that diabetes is an indication of inadequate muscle?                  Answer: Yes. And inadequate exercise. Particularly in legs.

5. What can I do to change all that?                                    Answer: Start. Do something. Every day. Consider Exercise Your #1 Anti-Aging Strategy.