Higher muscle mass can increase insulin sensitivity and decrease the risk for pre-diabetes.
Tip to Take Away: Maintaining fitness and building muscle through exercise reduces insulin resistance and may prevent type 2 diabetes. The American Diabetes Association recommends 150 minutes/week of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity or 75 minutes/week of vigorous aerobic physical activity plus muscle-strengthening activities (resistance training) 3 times/week.
Study Summary: Data from 13,644 participants aged 20 years and older in a national study were evaluated. The goal was to determine whether increasing muscle mass was associated with improved glucose regulation. Muscle mass is associated with insulin sensitivity and pre-diabetes risk. For every 10% increase in skeletal muscle, there was an 11% reduction in insulin resistance.
This research suggests that higher muscle mass is associated with better insulin sensitivity and lower risk of pre-diabetes. This is good news for those who are overweight and struggle with weight loss, as any effort to get moving and keep fit is a benefit and may contribute to improved metabolic change. Further research is needed to determine the effect of exercise programs designed to increase muscle mass and how exercise may prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes.
Reference: 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 (J Clin Endocrinol Metab, 2011;doi:10.1210/jc.2011-0435)
Abstract available at:
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