Many believe that plenty of “fat burning” cardiovascular exercise is the best way to take off weight fast—and while that can have some value, it would NOT be the best exercise for that purpose. Let me explain why…
Weight training prevents muscle loss while dieting
The reality is that most people can only burn an average of about 5-10 calories per minute in any form of exercise. With over 3,500 calories stored in every pound of fat, it is necessary to put in an average of 6-11 hours of exercise just to burn one pound. This is why the primary method to burn fat is your diet—NOT your exercise program. It is much easier to cut 500 calories from your diet by cutting out two sodas, and replacing your fries and roll with a salad, then it is to workout from 50-100 minutes or more (The equivalent of 5 miles of jogging!). The main purpose of your exercise program is NOT to burn calories—it is to preserve muscle!
With any diet you will lose lean weight and muscle, as well as the fat you want to lose—unless you give the body a reason to keep the muscle through resistance exercise. In general, without weight training, you will lose at least three pounds of lean weight out of every 10 total pounds you lose. And doing aerobic exercise like walking, jogging, and the like does not help.
Back in 1999, researchers put overweight men on a 1500 calorie a day diet, and divided them into three groups—one that didn’t exercise, another that performed aerobic exercise three days a week, and a third that did both aerobic exercise and weight training three days a week. The results: Each of the groups lost almost the same amount of weight—about 21 pounds. But the lifters shed 5 more pounds of fat than those who didn’t pump iron. Why? Because their weight loss was almost pure fat, while the other two groups lost just 15 pounds of fat, along with several pounds of lean body mass, aka muscle.
Just because your scale weight may show similar results whether you exercise or not, don't assume that the right kind of exercise isn't providing a significant benefit. The diet + weight training group lost 25% more fat than just dieting alone, or even dieting + aerobic exercise! The difference didn’t show up on the scale, but it will show up in dress sizes and how clothes fit, and how the body looks! Remember, muscle burns fat. And one pound of muscle takes up 18 percent less space on your body than a pound of fat. So weight loss actually hurts you if it's from muscle—and that goes for women just as well as men. Hear that ladies? Hit weights when you diet—they’ll make you smaller, not bigger.
Weight training helps preserve your resting metabolism
Dieting and weight loss, by its nature, will cause your metabolism to drop—so anything that you can do to keep it burning hot is a step in the right direction. In fact, your resting metabolism will account for at least 2/3rd of all the calories you burn! And there is no more time efficient way to boost your metabolism than by weight training. Even training as little as three times a week for 20-30 minutes each time can help boost metabolism close to an additional 100 calories per day! The typical woman would have to walk a couple miles daily to get the same calorie burn, and yet, she still wouldn’t lose as much fat without weight training!
Weight training improves your body shape
The primary reason most people diet or try to lose fat is not simply to record a lower number on the scale—that is quite incidental. No, what most people want is to look better and be happier with their physique. As we have seen, simply dieting or doing cardio will cause you to lose both fat and muscle so that the end result is just a smaller fat person. At best you will be “skinny-fat”— smaller and thinner than before, but still soft and flabby rather than hard and lean. Weight training helps you to optimize body composition rather than just losing weight indiscriminately. So instead of just becoming smaller, you actually get leaner.
Since we here at the Bradley Wellness Center have come to recognize that a legitimate fat loss program is impossible without a simultaneous strength training program, we have incorporated one into our eight week, “Choose to Lose” fat loss program starting in January. If your desire is to get leaner and stronger, I would like to invite you to a Monday night informational session on Dec. 3rd from 6-7pm. This is a great stand alone session on the truth about weight loss, as well as an intro to our coaching program. And one participant will get the whole program FREE by winning the door prize! Sign up for the class, or to get more information by calling, 706-278-WELL.
Submitted by: Thomas Morrison, Fitness Coordinator, Bradley Wellness Center