Fatty muscles predict cognitive decline?

I often talk about the importance of maintaining muscle mass as we get older.

(Who wants saggy skin and “bat arms,” anyway?)

That’s because, appearances aside, doing so will protect us from getting frail… a leading cause of debilitating, sometimes fatal, falls.

And now, new research shows your muscle fat may point to a devastating diagnosis

An interesting correlation

Researchers looked at muscle fat in over 1,600 older adults in their 70s and compared it to their cognitive function over a 10-year period.

It turns out, an increase in muscle adiposity (fat) seemed to be predicative of cognitive decline and dementia, regardless of body weight.

In fact, researchers analyzed subjects’ body composition during years 1 and 6—while assessing their cognition in years 1, 3, 5, 8, and 10.

The study design accounted for traditional dementia risk factors at baseline and still found a significant association between muscle fat and cognitive decline.

Not only that, but fatty muscles increase risk of Type 2 diabetes and hypertension, two dementia risk factors, to boot.

And get this…

Skeletal muscle fat often increases with age, even in those losing weight.

So, how can YOU protect yourself? Let’s take a look…

Prevention is key

Testing for the amount of fat in your muscles is not routine. In fact, it’s something that’s often found incidentally when having a CT scan for some other reason.

In other words, it’s not as simple as asking your doctor to test your muscle fat.

Instead, the best thing you can do is to take steps to prevent it.

The good news is, if you’re a regular reader, that should be simple for you to do. Because it boils down to eating well and exercising.

As always, adopt a healthy, balanced diet—like a high-fat, low-carb Mediterranean-style diet—full of produce, healthy fats, and lean protein. (For more insight, check out my books The A-List Diet and The Hamptons Diet.)

In fact, this isn’t “dieting” at all. It’s an eating plan that promotes good health.

As for exercise, I’m a big proponent of simply moving your body as often as you can. But I also recommend weight bearing exercises in order to maintain that much-needed muscle mass.

If you’re unfamiliar with how to train with weights, or need help getting started, you can find a personal trainer or plenty of at-home workout videos on the internet.

I like to focus more on repetitive motions versus higher weights—this tones muscles and decreases injury risk. In fact, you can follow my very own routine by clicking here and watching my video.


“Muscle Fat: A New Risk Factor for Cognitive Decline?” Medscape, 06/08/2023. (medscape.com/viewarticle/992947?src=FYE)