Saturday, March 3, 2012

Losing Fat, Not Weight

I'm still a little mad at my Boot Camp trainer for what he wrote about overweight fitness instructors, but he sent this newsletter a couple of days ago and I thought it was pretty interesting and wanted to share it. I think we all know the info, but he does make it really clear.

Just so you have the background, he was an exercise science major and his wife is a nutritionist (I really like her) so he does seem to know what he's talking about.

Anyway, enjoy. I'm off to barbell class...


Fat To Fit...Fast! (when exercise adds pounds)
Understanding Exercise-Induced Weight Gain

It is common knowledge that exercise burns calories and helps you to shed extra pounds.

Armed with this knowledge, many people think that losing weight should be easy with enough exercise. You may take this as bad news, but the truth is that for those who aren't used to exercising and are out of shape, beginning an exercise program may actually lead to weight gain.

This fact, however, shouldn't stop you from exercising, as you'll eventually turn the weight corner and start losing.

What is it about exercise that may cause some people to gain instead of lose weight?

Muscle Mass: One of the main reasons exercising can lead to weight gain is that it promotes the growth of muscle mass.

If you are not used to working out and haven't used certain muscles regularly, after exercising your muscles will be sore and will increase in size. While you may burn off fat, muscle is denser than fat. Therefore, the weight you gain is in your muscles.

And take heart. Since muscles take up less space than fat, your extra weight doesn't necessarily translate to larger size. In fact, once you start working out, you'll probably become thinner, even if you maintain your previous weight. Instead of using a scale to determine if you are slimming down, have your body fat tested regularly or measure your body at certain areas.

If you see that you're losing inches, then you know you're on the right track.

Cardiovascular activities like walking, running, or swimming will encourage the growth of lean, toned muscles. Other activities such as weight lifting promote the growth of larger, stronger muscles that contribute to weight gain.

But there is good news in this. If you stick with the exercise program, your muscles will soon stabilize in size and after a time, become toned. After your muscles are strong and able to handle more strenuous workouts, you will be able to burn calories faster.

While it may be frustrating and disappointing to see the scale go up after starting an exercise routine, it shouldn't stop you from exercising. You may just be building muscle faster than losing body fat. This can be especially true if you're genetically prone to building muscle fast. The key is to incorporate plenty of cardio exercise in addition to strength training. That way you will burn plenty of calories during your routine and be more able to shed pounds.

Eating Habits: When you work out and burn calories, your body will feel the need to replace those burned calories.

This may make you feel hungrier than usual, which can cause you to eat more than normal - sometimes without knowing it. A good idea is to keep a food journal to track of the actual number of calories you are consuming.

You may also end up eating more calories and justifying their consumption since you're exercising. After a good workout, you may see an ice cream sundae as a reward for the calories you burned. Just be careful. If you're interested in losing weight, you can't simply break even with your caloric intake and the amount of calories you burn.

At the same time, eating too few calories can be counterproductive and slow your weight loss. Without enough calories, your body may slow its metabolism. So eat plenty to keep your body well fueled, but choose healthy calories that will help your body recover after a workout and grow stronger.

Hydration: Depending on the time of day you weigh yourself, the scale may read differently. Your weight can fluctuate as much as five pounds depending on the amount of water or food you have recently consumed or the amount of water you have shed in sweat. It is therefore important to weigh yourself at the same time each day.

Give It Time
Whatever the cause of your weight gain after exercising, don't give up! Not only is exercise the key to shedding pounds, but it is also vital for overall health and well-being. Give your body time to respond to a new routine. It can take several weeks for your body to "recalibrate" itself to increased activity and changes in eating habits. But once it does, you'll begin seeing the weight-loss results you seek!


Kelli said...

This article is very true. I experienced some of that recently and I was frustrated that my weight loss had slowed but realized I was gaining muscle in place of it. Thanks for sharing, have a great weekend!

Alison said...

This is just what I needed to read today, I've gained 5 pounds in a week and I've been exercising quite hard. I have to admit to being guilty of eating a little more justifying it as I've worked out but not 5 pounds worth!
Thank you

greenie said...

Very good. Thanks for sharing.

Laura Belle said...

Great post! I was just pissed at the scale whore this morning because it refuses to go down! But now I know it's probably muscle gain. Sweet!