The biggest motivator for most people trying to lose weight is when their body weight reduces. A drop in the scales is usually an indicator of progress, right? Well, body fat actually occupies more space than muscle. When you work out, you may not necessarily lose weight. In fact, you might be surprised to see an increase in weight. This is due to the increase in muscle. Health experts agree that looking fit is better than looking slim. And since muscle takes up less room compared to fat, your body volume will decrease. Muscle build-up increases metabolism, which in turn helps with your weight loss goals.
Weight loss fluctuates throughout the day depending on how much water you drink or the quantity of food you eat. What many people actually mean by weight loss is fat loss. Using the scale to measure weight loss is usually misleading because it doesn’t measure the amount of fat you’ve lost.
There is no simple way to lose body fat. It’s a process that requires commitment, discipline and lifestyle changes. However, you can achieve a lean body by burning the stored fat and building muscle through exercise and healthy meals. Where most people go wrong is when they only focus on weight loss, instead of fat loss. This approach is not healthy as it will lead to both fat loss and muscle loss. Muscles are responsible for our body movement and for keeping us going. So, when you lose muscle, your metabolism slows down and weight goes on a rebound.
To achieve your dream figure, you need to lose body fat while maintaining lean muscle, which is responsible for the toned, sculpted appearance. Incorporating resistance training, regular workouts and other exercises will help you gain muscle while losing fat at the same time. When you focus purely on weight loss, you may end up affecting your immunity, general body strength, and develop poor form.
The ideal approach is to tackle your body composition by decreasing body fat percentage while increasing or maintaining your lean muscle mass. The primary goal of a healthy weight should be to improve your body fat composition ratio. If you’re chubby, it means your fat composition is higher than your muscle mass.
Muscle and Fat Burning
Dieting alone may not be a healthy way to lose weight. Understandably, you want to get rid of the excess body fat. The problem with dieting is that it will also affect your muscles mass, and you won’t stick to the diet much longer. It’s also common for people to join cardio classes to aid in their weight loss efforts. While this may work, your body will also burn some of your lean muscle for energy. The ideal exercise is strength training to build muscle. With increased muscle mass, your body has easy and quick access to stored energy than burning body fat to obtain the energy it requires.
Measure Your Body Composition
When you engage in strength training, you will definitely see a difference in your body, which might not reflect on your weight. For instance, if you measure your waist circumference after a few weeks of regular strength training, you will notice that you’ve lost a few inches but the scale might not drop as much. Being fit is not reflected by your weight. It’s a measure of how healthy you are in terms of the risk level to cardiovascular disease and mortality. According to Traci Thompson, MS, Director of PEAK Health & Wellness at the University of Utah, “Testing your body composition can be a great way to monitor and reach realistic fitness goals.”
Losing Volume Vs Losing Weight
Losing weight and losing volume are two completely different aspects. When you consider a healthy body, it all boils down to having a healthy fat to muscle ratio. Take your focus from the scale to a balanced diet and exercise. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn. Strength training is highly effective because it raises your resting metabolism and passive calorie burning. Getting the right fat-burning program will help you get rid of the excess fat much quicker. Instead of checking your weight on the scale every week, opt for the following instead:
- Thighs: measure the fullest parts of your thighs while standing.
- Hips: measure the widest part of your waist all the way around.
- Waist: measure the area above the navel, which is the narrowest part.
- Bust: measure your bust all the way around along the line of your nipples.
- Upper arm: measure the part above your elbows, looking for the fullest point.
- Calves: measure the fullest part while sitting down.
Taking these measurements every week will let you know if you’re losing body fat around those target areas. Unlike the scale, you get the important information that involves your body composition.
The Bottom Line
The ultimate goal should be to lose body fat while maintaining lean muscle mass. Find a good strength training program and improve your diet. Starving yourself with strict diets will also mean losing muscle mass, which is bad for you. Losing volume or body fat is better since it also means your risk for developing high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes will be low. This is because of a healthy ratio of fat to muscle.
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