I began to do research because I just couldn’t wrap my mind around this result. It seems so simple now, but at the time I was floored to discover the answer was simple – muscle. I had done what I thought was necessary to reach my goal number: calorie counting (although I paid little attention to what I ate), excess cardio, and obsessive weigh-ins. Turns out these things contributed to weight loss, but I was losing muscle and fat, and in no way permanently boosting my metabolism. I learned that muscle gain and fat loss through the right balance of weights and cardiovascular exercise was really what I needed to have the body I wanted.
So although these are the basics, I want to share some of the things I learned from this.
- 1 pound of fat takes up 2.5 times more space than 1 pound of muscle. We commonly hear that muscle weighs more than fat. This is untrue, a pound is a pound, but that pound of muscle takes up less space.
- Muscle burns 3x more calories at rest than fat does, so that means your body will burn more calories throughout the day and even at night.
- You cannot spot reduce fat.
- Building muscle is the only way to ‘reshape’ the body.
- Women in general do not have the right hormonal balance to build big muscles no matter how heavy she lifts.
- Recent research indicates that muscle may also help regulate insulin and therefore help reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes.
Then the real kicker hit me, the right balance is different for everybody. And it is different at different points in your life. This, along with my passion for fitness, was why I became a personal trainer – to help streamline the process for individuals because getting in your best shape ever is a PERSONAL process. Here are a few tips that I also learned:
- Don’t get hung up on a certain number on the scale. While I don’t think that the scale should be completely ignored, realize that it is JUST a number, and that healthy weight should be thought of as more of a range than an exact number.
- Body composition counts. If you are able to get a bodyfat percentage this can be more helpful in determining your health and weight loss goals than the scale.
- The number on the scale is relatively easy to manipulate, but maintaining a steady weight is a challenge in and of itself. Muscle will help you to maintain your weight.
- Don’t discount nutrition. This plays as much of a role (if not more) as exercise in determining body composition and health.