Shedding body fat with minimum muscle loss: a better goal
Target: maximize fat loss,
while minimizing muscle loss.
Losing weight can actually
be a bad thing, especially if you are doing it at the expense of
lean tissue like
muscle. If all you are using to gauge your fitness progress is scale weight
alone, you are only getting half-the-picture. Forget about how much you weigh or
what your BMI (Body Mass Index)
is. Instead, focus on your ratio of lean tissue to
body fat. Once you do this,
you’ll actually start looking and feeling better.
Your body’s total weight: includes body fat; lean tissue like muscle; your
internal organs like the heart, lungs, and liver; the food and liquid currently
passing through your digestive tract; water retained by body tissue; and
skeletal material like bones and their connective tissue. In a healthy female of
average weight, bones make up 12 percent of total body weight, muscle/lean
tissue about 35 percent and body fat about 27 percent. The remaining body weight
is skin, connective tissue, tendons, blood, organs and so forth.
For health, a good percentage of body fat is around 15 to
20% for females. It's been determined a healthy
body fat percentage between 17% - 24% for women is normal.
need to understand that fat storage is the sign of
it signals that metabolic resources are abundant and the organism is healthy. An
extreme overabundance of body
fat places stresses on the body and can be unhealthy. The higher your
percentage of fat above average levels, the higher your health risk for
weight-related illness, like
blood pressure, gallstones,
type 2 diabetes,
osteoarthritis, and certain
cancers. This set point is controlled by a gene called the ob gene that
produces a protein called Leptin. Leptin is a strong suppressor of
and food intake. As your body fat
rises, more leptin is produced and your appetite declines so that your body fat
stabilizes. If your body fat falls, your leptin production declines and your
appetite is dis-inhibited.
Why choose muscle over body fat?
A significant aspect is that, a pound of fat burns around 2 calories per
day. Muscle, on the other hand, burns around 6 calories per day — and
that is at rest. Exercise the muscle (for example, during
and you can burn an upwards of 250 calories, depending on your existing levels
of lean body mass.
Increasing your ratio of muscle to fat can make you look more in-shape, even
though the scale may say you are heavier, as both vary in appearance. Muscle
makes you appear leaner, while fat just makes you look fat. Extreme calorie
restriction can leave you with little muscle mass, which translates into a flat,
boney appearance. Bottom line is that you might end up looking unhealthy
compared to women who are fit,
toned and clearly in great physical shape.
Women often complain gain in weight with increase in age irrespective of a
consistent dietary intake. The reason here is, as we age there is a natural
tendency to lose muscle and we also are less vigorous in our
which results in further muscle loss. This loss of muscle tissue results in a
decreasing metabolic rate. Lose 5 pounds of muscle and your calories burned per
24 hours decreases by about 250 calories. While this may not sound like much, it
adds up. If you continue to eat like you did when you were younger, you will
gain a pound of fat in about 14 days. Over a 20 week period you will gain 10
pounds. The key to getting rid of accumulated body fat is to get back your
by getting back your muscle. With a proper exercise stimulus that dormant muscle
can be reclaimed.
How muscle helps in weight loss?
When there is a large demand placed on the muscle development . There is a
larger layoff in the fat composition. As we cannot produce cutbacks in the bone
or connective tissue because we need their support because muscle is not
helpful unless it is attached to strong bone by strong connective tissue. This
means more fat has to be let go. We cannot lay off any nervous tissue, because
our new muscle is useless unless it is innervated by new nervous tissue. This
means more fat has to be let go. Under this scenario, all weight loss is shunted
toward fat loss. In this scenario, your body takes on a dramatic shape change.
You have added a modest amount of shape-improving muscle and jettisoned a large
amount of shape-ruining fat.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line for fat loss is as follows: 1) Build some calorie burning
muscle through proper
exercise. 2) Create a modest calorie deficit through dietary restraint. 3)
4) Get some extra sleep.
5) Avoid over activity or steady-state activities that are popularly thought to
"burn calories". If you have the discipline, these simple steps will prove
successful beyond your expectations.
Dated 18 June 2011