Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Exercise for Maintaining Muscle with Fat Loss

If you currently work with me, then you have heard this before:

Fat loss is almost completely a matter of nutrition. Exercise's role in losing fat is to make sure that your body doesn't breakdown muscle along with the fat tissue.

Unfortunately, the majority of gym regulars still believe in aerobics as the best way to lose weight. When people are asked what they did to lose weight, they usually say something about how many times they go to the gym per week or what they did when at the gym, but it is really the removal of pasta, bread, and bagels from their diet that caused the change.

Why are aerobics undesired for the weight loss process? I'm sure you have seen or heard this before: a person goes on a diet, loses weight, then gains it all back and more. It's commonly referred to as "The Yo-Yo Diet". The weight regain doesn't necessarily mean that the dieter lost discipline once achieving success. In fact, the dieter can stay completely dedicated to his or her diet and regain the weight.

When dieting, the body is in a catabolic phase where it breaks down both muscle and fat tissue. This is a problem because the majority of calories burned in our bodies is from metabolism, which is basically the body using energy (calories) to maintain the tissue it already has. If a person does not strength train when losing weight, he or she loses muscle tissue and therefore lowers the metabolic rate. Aerobics, especially when performed frequently or for long durations, accelerates the breakdown of muscle tissue.

Researchers took three groups of women and put them on diets combined with an activity that lead each one to lose about 12 kilograms (26.4 lbs). One group did aerobics, one did strength training, and one did not exercise. The calorimetry (rate at which calories are used) and fat-free body mass decreased in both the no exercise and aerobics groups. The strength training group maintained in both areas.

Strength training, not aerobics, is the most effective way to use and build muscle fibers. In a dieter's case, it's also his or her best chance to prevent muscle loss and therefore, weight gain.


Unknown said...

Well said Sean P.

Kelly said...

I've lived this experiment for real with my own 20 something high carb, low cal, low protein and way too much cardio and no weights type of weight loss. I lost weight, who wouldn't, walking 2 hours a day and eating less than 1000 calories? But I was cold all the time, weak, dry skin, lethargic and thin-fat.

Now, with more than a decade under my belt, I am learning how the body REALLY works.

I love finding more and more evidence that cardio is NOT the way to go.


Dr. Sean Preuss said...

Tom-Thanks for reading friend.

Kelly-The good thing is that you are aware of your successes and failures. Unfortunately, there are many who stick to the same myths that plague this field, even though these activities do not produce the results they are looking for. From everything you have told me, you are absolutely on the right track!
And yes, muscles are the thermoregulators of the body. It doesn't surprise me that you were dieting and doing aerobics (a recipe for muscle loss), and you could not keep yourself warm.