Strategies for Preserving Muscle Mass and Bone Density when taking Semaglutide Medications


During weight loss, we lose not only unhealthy fat, but also beneficial muscle mass. Why is it important not to lose muscle mass, sometimes referred to as lean mass? 

Bone density is critical because strong bones offer more robust skeletal health and mitigate the risk of fracture from a fall. Skeletal health is also important because our bones support us; they are the scaffolding that protect vital organs, and they allow us to perform functional movements such as walking, carrying a bag of groceries, picking up our kids or grandkids, balancing, posture, pushing or pulling open a door, or getting up from a chair.

A key component of skeletal health is lean mass. As lean mass and strength increase, so does skeletal health. Conversely, as lean mass decreases, so does skeletal health. Our bones and muscle work together to keep us moving, so it is important to take steps to preserve lean mass while taking semaglutide medications.

Why is Muscle Mass Important?

Muscle is metabolically active, which means it expends energy even when at rest. Pursuing activities such as strength training, resistance training, yoga, or Pilates can preserve and build lean mass, which in turn strengthens bones. Building lean mass through physical activity while taking semaglutide medications is laying the groundwork for healthy habits. When you stop the medication, you’ll have a foundation for an active lifestyle in place.

Muscle regulates blood sugar, so for adults with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes, increasing lean mass can support better insulin sensitivity. Muscle absorbs glucose (sugar) from your bloodstream and uses it for energy, helping lower blood glucose and your body’s reliance on insulin.

Muscle mass promotes bone density and reduces the risk of osteoarthritis and fractures. Weight-bearing activities such as walking, climbing stairs, or low-impact aerobics improve lead to weight loss while preserving lean mass. Muscle mass promotes the structural integrity of our skeletal system and allows us to keep moving.

Muscle needs protein, so be sure to consume protein throughout the day to ensure muscles are being fueled. Consuming both plant-based and animal-based proteins will help preserve and maintain muscle mass, so consider adding lean meats (such as skinless white meat poultry, beef, pork) and seafood (such as tuna or salmon) along with dark green leafy vegetables like spinach or kale to your daily meal plan.

Does Semaglutide Reduce Muscle Mass and Bone Density?

While semaglutide does not have a direct effect on muscle mass or bone density, there is an indirect effect from the weight loss associated with semaglutide medications. To preserve lean mass and support continued skeletal health, be sure to work with your health care provider to develop an exercise program and eating plan that is right for you.

Before beginning any weight loss program, whether it includes anti-obesity medication or not, be sure to consult with your health care provider to make sure your desired weight loss strategy is right for you.


About the Author: Dr. Dawn M. Sweet has over 20 years of experience in the field of communication. Dr. Sweet has given several invited talks to and workshops for academic and private sector audiences on the role of nonverbal and verbal communication in achieving positive outcomes and mitigating bias. Her research has been published in several top ranked peer-review journals, and it has been featured on NPR’s River to River / All Things Considered, Buzzfeed, and Science Daily. Her research has also been used to inform expert testimony.

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Preserves Muscle Mass and Helps Reduce Side Effects for People Using Semaglutide