Muscle doesn’t weigh any more than fat pound for pound, of course, but by volume it certainly does as it is about 17% DENSER – a kilo of fat is therefore much bigger than a kilo of muscle.
‘I want to lose weight’ is a common phrase, but the reality is, we need to lose body fat and preserve our precious lean body mass (LBM – consisting of muscle, bone, blood etc.). Muscle burns calories for a start – the more muscle we have the more calories we require to do nothing! If you add muscle and lose body fat, the scales may not budge quite as much as you might have expected, but you will look thinner, as well as more fit and toned!
Many ‘weight loss’ plans do result in significant muscle loss – if you severely restrict calories, consume insufficient protein and do a lot of steady cardio you may lose weight on the scales, but you will also be losing muscle. This is a major factor in regaining lost weight after a ‘diet’ – you have lowered your daily calorie requirements quite significantly, so what was once seen as a maintenance intake will now cause weight gain. The ‘yo-yo’ effect can be explained by this happening on a regular basis – every time you diet you lose more and more of the muscle that you need to keep your weight off in the long run! This is exacerbated by the fact that we lose muscle mass throughout adulthood unless we take action (especially resistance training) to keep it!
There are several methods to find out your body fat percentage, including skin fold tests with calipers, electrical impedance tests and the highly accurate, but highly impractical, hydrostatic (underwater) weighing method.
My personal favourite method that you can easily do at home is to use a software programme, where you take body measurements and plug them in to a form that calculates your body fat – you can find links to these by searching Google or through the links page of my website. They are usually accurate to between 1-3% and are a very simple way of testing.
Using this information, you can set yourself realistic fat loss targets based on the amount of fat you have to lose (rather than a random number you think might be nice to see on the scales!), and you can monitor your progress over time.This entry was posted in Nutrition, Training Tips. Bookmark the permalink.