Weight Loss or Fat Loss?

The common concept that a successful “diet”is determined by the amount of weight reduction on the scale and a clear visual change, (while wearing clothes) is complete hogwash. Not only is it an incorrect approach, it is actually unhealthy. Multiple researches have clearly demonstrated that an individual who has maintained if not actually increased their skeletal muscle mass while reducing body fat are better equipped to successfully maintain body composition changes over an extended period of time.

The common tendency for individuals to experience repeated and persistent post-transformation weight gain, commonly referred to as yoyo dieting (lose 10kg, put on 15kg, lose 10kg, put on 20kg) is fundamentally based on an inability to sustain long term weight loss by simply reducing caloric intake.

In the short term reducing caloric intake to generate a calorie deficit will indeed make you lose weight, however it will definitely lead to a reduction in skeletal muscle mass, which ultimately leads to a decrease in metabolism and thus eventual weight gain. The problem now is that most if not all the fat that was lost has been regained, but not the muscle.

Under conditions of severe calorie restriction and excessive cardio based activity (ie. No resistance training), the body’s natural response is to harness nutrients from skeletal muscle mass and protein to repair tissue and cells, thus reducing muscle mass, decreasing metabolism and increasing the capacity to store more body fat. 

For overall health and longevity, the need to maintain and potentially increase skeletal muscle mass across all age groups has been documented over and over again by many scientific studies. Only through a solid and consistent approach to nutrition, along with a properly integrated Resistance Training program, can fat be reduced while muscle mass maintained if not increased. Cardio based training may be incorporated but limited to a controlled level so as not to interfere with muscle retention and CNS stability.

The standard focus in the medical industry as well as medical entry points for government roles such as armed forces still use the antiquated BMI as a measure which is just height over weight. This does not take into account whether the individual has higher skeletal muscle mass. In this instance, you will see a “skinny/fat” type of person who has low skeletal muscle mass and higher body fat but fits within a normal range of the BMI spectrum.  Whilst it is well established that BMI is a very antiquated measure of a person’s health, it is still commonly used to assess health of populations.

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