Feeling the need to get your body “in shape”? Your goal might be to look more toned in a swimsuit this summer, become more fit for a big event, or because you want to get back into your favorite pair of pants. Whatever the reason, you should also want to lose fat and build muscle for another very important reason: disease prevention.

Dr. Robert R Wolfe, an esteemed researcher on the regulation of muscle metabolism, describes why muscle is so important in an article “The under-appreciated role of muscle in health and disease” published by the The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. In the article, Dr. Wolfe describes the many ways that muscle mass plays a role in critical illness and chronic diseases such as osteoporosis and diabetes.

Dr. Wolfe posits that the reason muscles are so important is because when the body is stressed from diseases or injuries, it inflicts more demands for amino acids — often obtaining them from muscle protein breakdown. Having muscle strength is also crucial during recovery, with the paper noting less than 50% of those employed before entering an intensive care unit return to work within the first year of discharge – proving how taxing the loss of muscle mass can be during acute hospitalization. Additionally, studies have shown that over 50% of women older than 65 who fall and break a hip never walk again. In chronic conditions, such as Type 2 diabetes, research has shown that having more muscle mass helps the body use insulin efficiently.

So how can you make your muscles work for you? Here are some tips from Dian Griesel, author of TurboCharged: The Silver Disobedience Edition: How to Defy Aging, Rev Up Your Energy and Burn Body Fat in 8 Simple Steps

Dismiss Your Old Diet

It has been truly remarkable to see the innovation of packaged foods that are designed for all different types of “diets.” The problem, however, is that packaged foods generally contain sugar, processed carbohydrates, modified fats and grains that lack nutrition. Even if the food isn’t a cupcake, sugar can find its way into even the “healthiest” of foods such as cereals, yogurts, salad dressings and soups. Nutrient-packed natural fruits and vegetables and the right kind of fat can help TurboCharge your metabolism.

Measure Your Success

Dropping pounds is an automatic win, right? Not quite. Lean muscle tissue is 15 percent denser than fat. So, if you’re losing weight on the scale, you may be losing muscle mass instead of losing fat. Instead, focus on body composition. The only device you need to measure body fat composition is a tape measure and this handy, free calculator on SilverDisobedience.Rocks 

Fill Your Tank With Water

There are many reasons to drink water — in a healthy body, water accounts for almost 60 percent of total weight. One reason that is often overlooked is that thirst is often confused for hunger, so drinking water before eating can help you to be sure you’re not getting the two confused.

Do More in Less Time

Feeling intimidated thinking you need to commit time for intense, hour-long workouts every day in order to burn fat? Good news – staying active is the secret. Simply walking and doing “mini” exercises for five minutes or less can help you get TurboCharged! The book has tons of ideas for inspiration to get you back on your feet and moving and outlines how to achieve maximum results.

Replacing body fat with muscle mass could give you the power to stay strong and energized so you can continue to do all the things you love. Remember – before starting any new diet or exercise program, speak with a healthcare professional for a personal evaluation.