If you have not read parts 1 and 2 please do so first! So now that we understand that the most important factor in controlling bodyweight is to manage the energy you use daily with the energy you take in from food and beverages the next step is understanding the crucial difference between losing fat and losing weight. In the beginning of any new diet there is typically a significant loss of water weight, and while comforting this is a temporary phenomenon and not permanent! Also it is important to understand that real goal should be reducing levels of bodyfat while maintaining or actually increasing muscle mass. The reason is that muscle and fat are not the same when it comes to how you look and feel. Fat is nothing more than stored energy and fat tissue takes up much more space than muscle or other lean tissue mass. Take a look at the picture below to get a sense of how different 5lbs of muscle looks compared to 5lbs of fat.
As you can see muscle is a much denser and firmer material than fat. The practical implication is that if you were to lose 5lbs of fat and gain 5lbs of muscle although the scale would not change at all – you (and everyone you know) would notice a big improvement in your appearance. You would actually look smaller and tighter. In addition because muscle burns significantly more calories than fat while at rest your resting metabolic rate would be increased meaning you are burning more calories ALL the time — not just during exercise.
So the next question becomes “how do I lose fat and build or maintain muscle mass at the same time?” There are three keys:
Regular resistance training aka weight lifting – which stimulates your body to maintain or build muscle and bone tissue.
High Intensity Interval Training – which maximizes calorie burn both during AND after the workout
Managing food and beverage intake - to insure your calorie intake is slightly below your total calorie output – to insure your body has a reason to use fat (stored energy).
While each of these components can be effective by themselves — when they are combined there is much greater short and long term response. Take any of the three components out and you will limit your results.
Put another way reducing calorie intake will initially result in greater fat loss than exercise for people who are beginning to exercise, BUT overtime your body will ALWAYS slow-down in response to any sustained drop in calorie intake. Exercise on the other hand is just the opposite — initially for an unfit person exercise makes a very small contribution to any weight loss because the person’s exercise capacity is low. However, overtime a person’s exercise capacity will improve. So all forms of diet become less effective over time while exercise becomes more effective.
The key is addressing diet and exercise out of the gate and focusing on HIIT and Resistance Training in your exercise programming while watching your food and beverage intake!
Stay tuned for the final part of this article next week!