Why Do Weight Loss Diets Fail?
Most Americans wish that they weighed less than they do.
Two-thirds of us are overweight. At the same time, there are
literally hundreds of weight loss programs--each one
promising that it will help you finally lose those extra
pounds. Some of them work--and you are able to lose
weight. But most people gain back the weight they lost--and
more--when they begin to eat normally again.
Why do these programs not fulfill your dream of reaching
your desired weight--and staying there?
To find out, letís discuss what happens to your body as you
grow older. Adults who do not perform regular strength
exercise lose about one-half pound of muscle each year
after they reach maturity. This means ten pounds of muscle
are lost during their 30s and 40s. And the rate of muscle
loss doubles in people over 50 years of age. Many women
have lost half the muscle they had at 30 by the time they are
70. In addition, most adults gain ten pounds of
weight--fat--each decade. It should be obvious that these
changes in body composition are not desirable, but most
adults are more aware of the fat gain than the muscle loss.
If you lose one-half pound of muscle each year, by the time
you reach 40, you have lost five pounds of muscle. Each
pound of muscle in your body burns about 50 calories per
day; therefore your body requires 250 fewer calories each
day to maintain your weight. When you reach 50, you need
500 calories less each day than when you were in your
twenties. Most people believe their metabolism slows
down; actually it only seems that way because they have
less muscle to burn calories.
This gradual decrease in muscle and basal metabolism
rate is also related to the increase in body fat that most
people experience as they get older if they do not strength
train. With the decrease in muscle, calories previously
necessary to perform the activities of daily living now end up
stored as fat. They then diet to lose weight, which further
reduces their muscle mass because 30 percent of the
weight lost through dieting is muscle tissue. Losing muscle
leads to a lower metabolic rate because fat needs almost
no calories to sustain itself, thus causing even more
calories to be stored as fat which makes it more difficult to
perform physical activities.
When you diet to lose weight, for every ten pounds of weight
you lose, you lose three pounds of muscle. You have
exacerbated the loss of muscle thatís already been
happening to your body.
Letís say you lose 20 pounds by dieting without strength
training. Thirty percent of those 20 pounds youíve lost were
muscleóthatís six pounds of muscle that is gone. If you
estimate that each pound of muscle uses 50 calories each
day to sustain itself, 50 calories times six pounds equals
300 calories each day that your body does not need now to
sustain itself. If you were eating 1,500 calories a day to lose
weight, you now have to lower that to 1,200 calories. This is
why you reach a plateau and are no longer dropping
pounds. Get the picture?
You diet to lose weight--you lose muscle--metabolism
slows--then you store more fat in your body--and you diet to
lose weight. Itís a vicious cycle thatís repeated over and over
by hundreds of thousands of Americans each year.
You are not doomed to repeat this scenario. A strength
training program will increase the amount of muscle tissue
in your body--usually at the rate of over a pound a month for
Why do diet programs suggest only aerobic exercise? Most
experts and diet gurus tell you that you should exercise to
burn fat. when youíre on a weight loss diet, but many of
them ignore strength training or give it only a cursory
mention. They tell you to walk briskly, ride the exercise bike
or use the step machine at the fitness center to burn
calories. They tell you how many miles or minutes it will take
to burn a certain number of calories. This type of exercise is
absolutely necessary to burn the fat stored in your body--but
it does almost nothing to preserve or increase muscle
I believe that if you do not do strength training as you ďdiet,Ē
you are literally setting yourself up to fail--you guarantee that
the more weight you lose, the more difficult it will be to lose
more weight. You must do strength training to keep from
losing muscle tissue. If you strength train for 12 weeks, you
can increase your metabolic rate by up to seven percent and
increase your daily energy requirements by up to 15 percent.
Bottom line: if you gain ten pounds of muscle, youíll
increase your metabolism and your bodyís caloric needs up
to 500 calories per day.
Wow! That means an extra piece of cake wonít add on
another pound. Plus--youíll find that strength training gives
you more energy and a sense of well-being. It helps firm up
your body as you lose pounds-- so youíll look better, too.
So get out the dumbbells or go to the gym and get started
pumping iron. Youíll be glad you did.
Phyllis Rogers is a Certified Fitness Trainer, a Specialist in
Fitness for Older Adults and Longevity Wellness Specialist.
Her book "Over 40 & Gettin' Stronger" describes a strength
workout that uses dumbbells. She has taught more than
1200 strength exercise classes for adults over 40. Though
most of her work is with older adults, she stresses that the
basic concepts of strength training work with adults of any
age--thus this article on weight loss will be of interest to all
who are on a weight loss program.
Phyllis teaches a 6 hour train-the-trainer workshop to teach
the basics of working with adults over 40 and is available for
speeches. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org
More information is available at http://www.StrongOver40.com
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