By Lisa Hampton
As a personal trainer, I help my clients achieve a wide variety of personal fitness goals, one of the most common being weight loss. With an endless variety of weight loss programs promising to help people “lose weight fast” you may be confused and wondering what’s right for you. In this article, I’ll be talking about weight loss and why fat loss might be a better solution in meeting your goals.
Weight Loss In General.
The general term “weight loss” refers to a decrease in your overall bodyweight. You lose weight when you burn more calories than you take in which is called caloric deficit. In caloric deficit, your body starts burning the energy it has stored in the form of water, fat, and muscle. If your body is naturally apple or pear shaped, you’ll be a smaller apple or pear, the scale will read lower, and your clothing size will go down. For people struggling with obesity or just trying to fit in a certain clothing size, this seems like a good enough goal.
However, there’s several drawbacks to relying solely on cutting calories for weight loss. Because your body burned a little bit of everything during caloric deficit, you lost mostly water, then some fat and lean muscle. You are smaller in size and lighter on the scale, but your body may still have more fat than muscle. Even worse, extreme calorie cutting kicks your body into “starvation mode” in which your body slows your metabolism and stores fat as a protective mechanism.
The good news is that you don’t have to go hungry and spend hours on the treadmill to lose weight. In fact, if you cut your calories too much and burn even more during long, high-intensity cardio workouts, your body will again go into that starvation mode of storing fat and burning muscle. The healthy way to lose weight is to lose fat and maintain (or build) muscle. You can do this with a balance of the right number of calories from the right kinds of foods combined with the right types of exercise.
The Role Muscle Plays In Weight Loss and Fat Loss.
Muscle burns more calories than fat which raises your metabolism. Meaning, the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn naturally which helps take weight off and keep it off. Healthy muscle mass also helps regulate blood sugar levels and promotes healthy fat levels in the blood which prevents obesity related diseases like metabolic syndrome, heart disease, and diabetes.
If you’re losing weight to look better, you can naturally reshape your body by building muscle. Muscle is what keeps your arms and bottom from sagging, your waistline trim, and your legs firm and shapely. For women, this can mean transforming from an apple or pear shape into a balanced hourglass shape that looks great in tank tops, strapless dresses, and swimsuits. Don’t worry about “bulking up” ladies, your body doesn’t naturally have the hormones to do that. Saying you’re afraid of getting bulky by lifting weights is like saying you would like to start jogging but you’re afraid of racing in the Olympics. Training to build a healthy ratio of muscle to fat is different from training as a competitive bodybuilder or other elite athlete.
Don’t Trust The Scale
Because muscle is denser and weighs more than fat, your body composition may be improving but the scale may weigh the same or slightly heavier. I often have clients in my office panicked that our training isn’t working because they’re “gaining weight”. Despite the improvements they see and feel in their body and noticing their clothes are fitting in a better way, they are still concerned with that number on the scale. The scale can’t tell the difference between you and a sack of rice, that’s why we use the InBody composition test to measure what’s changing inside your body. If the InBody shows that your body fat is decreasing and your lean muscle mass is increasing, then your body is improving, regardless of what your overall bodyweight may be.
We Are Here To Help
To get to where you’re going you often need to know where you are. A great way to start a healthy weight loss program is by having a body composition test to measure how much fat and muscle you currently have. There are several different types of body composition tests, at Life Adapted Fitness we have the InBody which is a sophisticated scan that uses a light electrical current to measure your body’s percentage of water, fat, and muscle. The InBody also calculates your basal metabolic rate (BMR) which is how many calories your body needs daily to function at rest. With this data, we can accurately calculate a moderate calorie deficit that will help you lose fat and maintain muscle. We can also re-take the InBody scan periodically during your weight loss program to check your progress and make any adjustments needed to stay on track.
I’m Lisa Hampton and I will be covering more on nutrition and other fitness topics in future articles. To start your customized fat loss program, take advantage of your member benefits at Life Adapted Fitness which includes two InBody scans and four free personal coaching sessions per year. We also have a variety of nutrition and training programs available that are tailored to suit your goals and your budget. Reach out to us and book your appointment today.