The double burden of childhood undernutrition and adult-onset adiposity in transitioning societies poses a significant public health challenge. The development of suboptimal lean body mass (LBM) could partly explain the link between these two forms of malnutrition. This review examines the evidence on both the role of nutrition in “developmental programming” of LBM and the nutritional influences that affect LBM throughout the life course. Studies from developing countries assessing the relationship of early nutrition with later LBM provide important insights. Overall, the evidence is consistent in suggesting a positive association of early nutritional status (indicated by birth weight and growth during first 2 years) with LBM in later life. Evidence on the impact of maternal nutritional supplementation during pregnancy on later LBM is inconsistent. In addition, the role of nutrients (protein, zinc, calcium, vitamin D) that can affect LBM throughout the life course is described. Promoting optimal intakes of these important nutrients throughout the life course is important for reducing childhood undernutrition as well as for improving the LBM of adults.