Body Composition and Weight Loss: What's the Real Goal?

Published:  01/09/2016

Before her program

When someone says they want to "lose weight" it is important to understand that body "weight" consists of both lean body mass (muscle) and body fat and the real goal should be to gain muscle and lose body fat. Muscle is easily lost when someone undergoes a diet without professional guidance.

Lean body mass consists of muscle, bones, organs, other tissue, blood and water. The muscle tissue is the part of your body composition that helps you to burn calories.

Extra body fat is dangerous because it greatly increase your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, sleep apnea, various forms of cancer, and other degenerative diseases, so obviously it is beneficial to reduce extra body fat.

The more muscle you have the more calories you burn. As you get older, the size and strength of your muscles naturally decrease which in turn slows down the rate at which your body burns calories.

But with a professional well-designed strength training program, you can build muscle which burns more calories than fat, tones and shapes your body, and helps your body to function more efficiently throughout your daily activities.

So, instead of "losing weight", the goal is to get your body fat percentage to a healthy range and to build your muscle. To build muscle it is important to get regular physical activity that includes strength training to build muscle along with a healthy diet plan that allows you to lose the fat without losing precious muscle. Get professional advice so you get the results you want!

Strength Training + Calorie Reduction = Fat Loss + Muscle Gain

A Real Life Example

Here is an example of the power of an excellent workout and healthy eating plan. These are the stats of one of my female clients that I have been working with for one year.

When we started training and nutrition counseling in January 2015 her total weight was made up of 45.23 pounds of fat and 101.16 pounds of lean weight.

Today one year later, her body is composed of 36.92 pounds of fat weight and 105.08 pounds of lean weight.

She lost 8.31 pounds of FAT and gained 3.92 pounds of MUSCLE! This is extraordinary and you won't get these results planning your workouts and your nutrition by yourself or with the help of anyone not well qualified.

My client had "only" a 4.2 pound loss, but notice the large decrease in inches she had in her "trouble area " her waist, abdomen and hips. A total of over 7 inches lost! This is significant and she is thrilled with how her clothes are fitting better and how she looks in a bathing suit with the loss of fat around her middle and the increased tone created by the strength training.

Date 1-8-15 1-8-16
Height 5'8  5'8
Weight 146.4 142
Age 48 49
Neck 13 12.25
Arm 10.5 10.5
Wrist 5.75 5.75
Waist 33.5 31.25
Abdomen 38 35
Hips 40.5 38.5
Thigh 21.75 22.5
Body Fat 30.9% 26%

My client's results are consistent with that demonstrated by research studies.

Here are three as examples:

-What may happen when someone reduces their calorie intaketheir and does not exercise? In this study diet alone resulted in a 2.4 pound LOSS of precious muscle but diet and exercise resulted in a 1 pound GAIN and the most fat lost.

Effect of Diet and Exercise on Weight Loss and Body Composition

Zuti, W.B. & Golding, L.A. The Physician and Sports Medicine. 4 (1): 49-53, 1976.

  Diet Exercise Diet & Exercise
Weight (lbs) -11.7 -10.6 -12
Fat (lbs) -9.3 -12.6 -13
Lean mass (lbs) -2.4 2.0 1

-In this next study we see that the cardio and weight training group lost the most fat, lost the most weight and increased the most muscle.

The "30 minutes of cardio only group lost a total of 3.5 lbs.; 3 lbs. of which was fat and a half-pound was muscle loss.

On the other hand, the "15 minutes of cardio + 15 minute weight training" group lost 8 lbs. with an actual fat loss of 10 lbs. and an increase of 2 lbs. of lean body weight.

Resistance Weight Training with Cardio Training Improves Fat Loss
Wayne Westcott, Ph.D, Fitness Management. Nov. 1991

  Endurance Training (30 min) Endurance (15 min) & Weight Training (15 min)
Weight Change (lbs) -3.5 -8
Fat Change (lbs) -3 -10
Lean mass Change (lbs) -0.5 2

Resistance Weight Training During Caloric Restriction Enhances Lean Body Weight Maintenance

Ballor, D.L., Katch, V.L., Becque, M.D., Marks, C.R., American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 47(1): 19-25, 1988.

The group that weight trained and dieted lost more fat than the groups that either dieted or weight trained alone. This study also demonstrates that weight training can maintain (or increase) lean mass while dieting.

With diet and weight training, more total weight was lost and more fat was lost and lean mass (muscle) was preserved.

  Control Diet Weight Training Weight Training & Diet
Weight (kg) -0.38 -4.47 0.45 -3.89
Fat (kg) -0.07 -3.56 -0.62 -4.32
Lean mass (kg) -0.31 -0.91 1.07 0.43

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