Building Muscle and Losing Fat… at the Same Time
Many of the clients that come through Vertex Fitness are interested in losing fat in some form or another. Many are busy professionals who must schedule time to prioritize their health and work to maintain a healthy body weight, while others are 55+ who want to fight the effects of aging and keep their muscle tone strong while minimizing unhealthy weight gain.
Building muscle and losing fat are not necessarily two totally separate activities–with a strength training program, they can be two sides of the same coin. So, how does your body build muscle on a lower-calorie diet? Let’s take a look at the information available in the book “Living Longer Stronger: The 6-Week Plan to Enhance & Extend Your Years Over 40” by Ellington Darden Ph.D.
Fat Cells Versus Muscle Cells
First, it’s helpful to understand what fat and muscle is actually made of. When burned, a pound of fat supplies 3,500 calories, while a pound of muscle only contains 600 calories. (Put another way, consuming 3,500 more calories than you burn on any given day will make you gain one pound of weight. Given an average 2,000 calorie diet, this is surprisingly easy to do over just a few days, as anyone who has let loose on a vacation surely knows.) Over 70 percent of muscle is water, and water contains no calories. Fat is composed of a greasy, waxy, lipid material.
Losing Fat and Building Muscle as You Age
Let’s start with a man who is 20 years old. Let’s say that he is 6 feet tall, and weights 175 pounds. His body is composed of 12 percent bone, 15 percent fat, 47 percent muscle, and 26 percent organs, skin, and other. If we follow this man over his next twenty years, we see some changes to the makeup of his body. On average, by the time this man is 40, he will have lost 10 pounds of muscle and gained 30 pounds of fat. His percentage of body fat has gone from 15 to 28.85, and his muscle has decreased from 47 to 37.05 percent. As a result, his body weight has risen from 175 to 195. We naturally lose muscle tone as we age, and our metabolisms slow down, meaning that we burn energy and gain weight much easier. Strength training is a great way to turn these trends around and maintain your muscle mass as you lose weight. Because muscle actually uses more calories than inactive tissue, building muscle will increase your metabolism, helping you while losing fat.
Losing Fat with Nutrition and Strength Training Together
At the end of the day, to lose weight, you need to lower your caloric intake. Exercising doesn’t actually burn that many calories when compared to how quickly you gain calories when you eat. For example, the average person will burn in the ballpark of 250 calories as an estimate during a typical half-hour long Vertex Fitness training session. That’s roughly equivalent to a single protein bar! You need to get on a sensible diet while performing a strength-training routine to get the results that you’re looking for.