Most people already know the answer to this question. Surprisingly, many of them choose crash diets over gaining muscle mass, even though both of these will help them achieve their aim. The reason is probably that going on a diet requires lesser effort than gaining lean muscle mass. However, if the question is which is a better option, building lean muscle mass has more benefits in the long run. In fact, a study reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reveals that more muscle mass can actually help protect the body against disease, resulting in better overall health.

Let’s take a look at how more lean muscle mass affects your health:

  • Metabolism: By gaining lean muscle mass, you increase your body’s basal metabolic rate. In other words, your body naturally burns more calories through the course of the day, according to a study that appeared in the Journal of Applied Physiology conducted to understand the impact of diet and exercise for weight loss and weight management. On the other hand, crash diets often result in a sluggish metabolism because they don’t increase lean muscle mass.
  • Bone Density: To gain lean muscle mass, you need to work out regularly. And that doesn’t just give you a svelte figure, it also improves the health of your bones. Those who simply diet to lose weight tend to have decreased bone density from lack of nutrients and activity, which in turn means their bones become brittle. In fact, if you consistently practice strength training, you can considerably reduce your risk of osteoporosis.
  • Muscle Strength: As you gain lean muscle mass, not only do you burn more body fat and look great, you also feel great as you have more stamina and endurance. Those who simply want to become skinny by dieting can look forward to the exact opposite – constant fatigue and tiredness.
  • Injury Prevention: When you gain muscle mass, you also improve your balance, flexibility and coordination skills. As a result, you generally reduce the risk of suffering from injury and may even become less ‘accident-prone’.
  • Improved Health: Gaining lean muscle mass will not only make your body heal faster, it also gives a boost to your immune system. Crash dieting can have the opposite effect, making you more prone to allergies and infection. Also, working out every day is great for heart health, naturally decreasing cholesterol levels and lowering blood pressure as well.
  • Feeling and Looking Better: Not only will gaining lean muscle mass makes you look good, it will make you feel good too. Exercise helps release ‘feel good’ hormones in the body, which is why a 30-minute workout can leave you feeling a lot more satisfied than wolfing down a chocolate cake ever can. On the other hand, trying to become skinny by going on a fad diet can often leave you feeling deprived and unhappy.


Stats show that dieting to become skinny is the single most important risk factor for developing an eating disorder. Data collected by Australian organization Eating Disorders Victoria shows that early onset dieting and frequent dieting are associated with both poor physical and mental health, a lifetime pattern of disordered eating, extreme bodyweight issues, and more frequent general health problems. So there you have it, stop obsessing about the S-word and focus on the F-word (fitness, silly) instead.

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