BUILD MUSCLE TO LOSE WEIGHT

By Julia from Gaia Wellness

Have you ever wondered why there’s so much hype about weight training and its importance in achieving weight loss goals? Surely all you need to do is cardio and the weight on the scales will drop. Surprisingly enough – you’re right. Performing cardio probably will result in weight loss. However – most of the lost weight will be muscle mass and water and you will in fact become what medical professionals term ‘skinny fat’. This will lead to a lifetime struggle with your weight. Essentially, if you’re serious about losing weight and maintaining the weight loss, lifting weights is THE ONLY way to achieve this.

The reality is when it comes to fat loss, many people refer to the scales as their barometer. This can be a very misleading and disheartening process. In fact, you can actually increase in scale weight and become dramatically leaner by building lean muscle. Conversely, losing scale weight doesn't automatically make you leaner. By performing too much cardio and not enough weight training, you will not be addressing your body’s muscle mass needs and you will end up losing muscle mass. You may lose weight on the scales, however, without a decent amount of muscle mass, you will be lighter but still have a very high body fat percentage. This is because without sufficient muscle, your body is unable to burn fat effectively, thereby resulting in a body fat percentage that is constantly on the up. This is not only extremely dangerous for the health of all your inner organs, but it will also set you up for a lifetime of battling with your weight.  

You might be surprised to learn that around 66% of your daily energy intake is utilised by your muscle mass. This means that around 66% of the energy from food you consume is used as fuel by your muscles, (and that’s when they’re NOT exercising). SO – the more muscle you have, the more calories you are burning at rest on a daily basis - and do you know what that means? MORE WEIGHT LOSS! Because only around 17% of the energy from food you consume is burned by exercise, it is simply impossible to out-exercise a bad diet. Build more muscle and you will turn yourself in to a fat burning machine!

SO - if fat loss is your goal then one of the first things you need to achieve is an elevated resting metabolic rate (RMR) and the only way to do this is by building lean muscle. Once achieved you will be burning more energy at rest.

The other amazing benefit from strength training is the hormonal effect. Lifting weights has been referred to as the fountain of youth as it regulates not only your sex hormones but also the so called hormone of ageing - insulin. If you refer to any world class diabetes centre, you will see that exercise prescription is based solely around resistance training due its powerful ability to improve insulin sensitivity. 

For men, lifting weights can have a dramatic effect on their ability to produce testosterone and growth hormone. A structured resistance training program that focuses on a high volume of work, short rest periods and moderate to heavy weights can help turn back the clock. That feeling you have when you walk out of the gym after a weights session is not just the boost of your ego, but the amazing effects of these hormones.

For women, there has at times been a negative connotation attached with strength training, typically based around the feeling of not wanting to 'bulk up'. THIS SILLINESS NEEDS TO BE STOPPED. Women do not have sufficient enough testosterone to bulk up. With 15-20 times less testosterone than men, women do not have the same testosterone boost post workout that men do. What they do get is a strong growth hormone response (GH). GH burns fat in the body and will assist in building quality lean muscle to create the metabolic effects as listed earlier. So girls, lifting weights will not bulk you up. Rather, it will give you the lean, defined figure that your dreams are made of!

Now I'm certainly not saying that you should ignore aerobic exercise completely and focus only on weight training. Aerobic exercise, particularly high intensity interval training (HIIT) is extremely beneficial for a number of reasons, The problem arises when too much aerobic exercise is being completed (in comparison to weight training) because this will break down your muscle and also increase your cortisol levels (stress hormone) due to the high amounts of oxidative stress being placed on the body. If you are training to change your body composition, (lose weight and build definition), combining a structured resistance training program with a HIIT training program is a great recipe for success, (provided of course that you eat a healthy and balanced diet to complement your training).

Every decade we lose the capability to build muscle mass and maintain it. If fat loss seems to be much more of a challenge now than it did then 'back in the day' then you will understand what I mean. If you are serious about losing fat and maintaining the weight loss, you NEED to go about carefully reconstructing your metabolism by building lean muscle tissue and pairing your exercise program with the right kind of nutrition.

So remember, when it comes to weight loss, MUSCLE MATTERS!