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Monday, July 29, 2013

How About I Starve It Off?

Weight (fat) loss can be achieved many ways. You can starve yourself and make what may appear to be worthwhile progress. However, the weight you are losing will be a combination of fat, muscle, bone, and of course, water. When the extreme diet fails, as most do, the weight gained back will be made up of a larger percentage of fat, and a lesser amount of muscle and bone. You'll weigh about the same as you did before dieting, but, you'll be fatter and weaker. You'll also be the owner of a slower metabolism and a less attractive body. You won't perform as well, and, (here comes the really bad news) you'll have to either eat less or move more if you want to even maintain this "new" you! In her book Strong Women Stay Slim, Miriam E. Nelson, Ph.D. states that "When women diet, at least 25 to 30 percent of the weight they shed isn't fat, but water, muscle, bone, and other lean tissue." Nelson conducted a study in which 10 overweight women were put on individually customized food plans designed for slow but steady weight loss. Half of them were put on a program of twice weekly supervised strength training; the other half just followed the diet. The diet only group lost an average of 13 lbs during the study. The strength training group lost 13.2 lbs. However, when the researchers looked at body composition (fat %) they found that the diet only women lost 2.8 lbs of muscle! The strength training group gained 1.4 lbs of lean muscle! Every pound they lost was fat, and when the muscle gain was factored in, their total fat loss was 14.6 lbs vs. 10.2 lbs for the dieters. Plan B, Aerobicise I know that's not a word, but people do it anyway. Attempt to lose their fat weight by performing vast amounts of aerobic exercise. The good news, they may lose weight. The bad news, they'll suffer a similar fate to that of the extreme dieters and perhaps a few musculoskeletal issues along the way. Drugs, Surgery? Yes, there are some drastic or life threatening situations where drugs or surgery may be necessary. However, it's my opinion that people turn to these far too early. So, Tell Me Something I Don't Know. (Or tell me the same thing again) OK, I will. MUSCLE! You need more of it. If you want to lose fat, firm up, feel better, perform better, be healthier, and continue doing and being as such, you must add lean muscle to your body. You can in effect grow younger. You can avoid the risks, side effects, and potential injuries of extreme dieting, excessive aerobics, and unnecessary use of drugs or surgery. You can... Strength Train What can strength training do that extreme dieting and aerobic activity can't? It can help you build a faster metabolism as opposed to decreasing the one you now have. Strength training builds lean muscle. The more lean muscle you have, the more calories you burn, not just while you're exercising, but all day long! Think of muscle as your engine. Whether sitting at a stop light or racing flat out, a larger engine burns more fuel (all things being equal), and your fuel is calories! The one difference being that an engine isn't burning fuel when it's turned off... you are. In a recent study, researchers at Southern Illinois University found that exercisers who did a 15-minute strength training routine burned 100 extra calories a day for three days afterward. Think about that for a moment. If you work out twice a week at an appropriate intensity level, you'd be burning an additional 600 calories per week. That's somewhere in the neighborhood of 31,000 calories a year. It's also safe to say that properly performed; the workouts themselves should burn 150 calories or more. That's another 15,000 or so. So, in terms of return on your investment, you're exercising 24 hours a year (if you never miss a session), and burning 46,000 calories. Now I understand this is very much simplified and there are myriad other factors that go into fat loss, but, that adds up to (at 3500 calories in a pound of fat) around 13 lbs of fat lost as a result of 24 hours of proper exercise. ROI If you're looking to lose fat, look better, feel better, perform better, just plain be healthier, strength training along with other sensible lifestyle modifications will give you the greatest return on your investment. Glen Peavey is Co-Owner of Real Exercise Personal Training in Waukegan Illinois. He's been a trainer since 1977 and has personally supervised over 85,000 training sessions. Glen is available for personal training, online training and phone consultations. He can be reached at

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