Lose the fat…not the muscle
“Great news, I lost 10lbs.!” “Terrific!” I say. “How much of that is fat?” They usually look at me quizzically, as if I’m about to rain on their parade. “Well, uh…what do you mean? I lost 10lbs.!” They repeat it, as if it were a bright comet streaking across the sky that I’ve missed. “How did you do it?” I ask. “Oh. Well, I did the —- Diet. Most diets have some catch or hook, like buttered coffee, all the Hostess Ho-Ho’s you can eat, one meal a day, some mysterious amphetamine or chemical, or some gimmick to brand it and distinguish it, then they ALWAYS prescribe lower calories, higher protein and regular exercise. The latter is always prescribed, because that’s what’s always essential for weight loss. “Did you measure your body fat before you started?” I ask. Then I can tell a little annoyance is creeping in. “Uh…no.” “Then how do you know if the weight you’ve lost is fat and not muscle?” They stare at me. “Well, I don’t care. All I know is that I went down 2 sizes.”
Well, you should care. Anybody can lose weight if they stop eating. But are you losing excess weight or essential weight? Are you losing muscle that enables you to burn fat, protects your skeleton from impact and maintains your proper alignment, or are you losing excess fat that stresses your heart and joints and makes it harder for you to fit into your pants? Muscle is dense and occupies less space than fat. So, gaining muscle actually helps you reduce your overall size. Subsequently, losing muscle can increase your overall body fat percentage. Did you know that your body holds onto fat more, when it’s deprived of the essential food it needs, for survival? This is why deprivation diets never work. Never. Don’t be fooled by quick weight loss.
Connect food to work. Load your engine with coal then drive it far and hard! Aerobic exercise burns fat while you do it. Maintaining your muscle aids your metabolism in burning carbohydrates (glucose), so that it can’t be converted into excess fat and stored on your body. Protein expedites the burning of carbohydrates, which makes it even harder for excess glucose to be converted and stored as fat.
Well, alright genius, how do I measure my body fat? Fair question. They sell more scales at Bed, Bath and Beyond, than they do body fat measuring devices. Any good trainer should have a reliable pair of calipers and be trained in how to use them. They should also know where you can take a hydrostatic or electrical impedance test. Local health clubs can help too. These tests, which all have some small margin of error, still give you much better information about your body composition than just a scale. So don’t be victimized by a number. Know if you’re losing muscle, fat or water, and if your weight loss is healthy and sustainable.