Above: 5 pounds of fat vs. 5 pounds of muscle.
It is important to understand that unless we work to keep up our muscle mass as we age, we will lose it. You continuously lose muscle after the age of 25 and your Basal (resting) metabolism slows down about 2% every decade. Why is this so important? Because the muscle cells in your body use energy, while the fat cells store energy. By gaining muscle through strength training, you increase your body’s energy requirements.
Muscle also increases your metabolic rate, which causes your body to burn more fat. Increasing and maintaining muscle helps you be stronger, more coordinated, increases bone density, lowers your risk of injury, gets your blood flowing when you strength train and improves joints, which reduces pain.
Here’s an example of the loss of muscle mass loss in an ordinary male. At the age of 25, Steve had 75 pounds of skeletal muscle and required 2,500 calories per day to maintain his weight. Over the next 25 years, he did not do any regular strength training and lost 10 pounds of muscle as a result of disuse atrophy (lack of physical exercise). At the age of 45, Steve now has only 65 pounds of muscle and only needed 2000 calories per day to maintain his weight. Now Steve has a problem. Like many people, he is not aware that after 25 years of age, you gradually lose muscle and have a decreased metabolic rate. What happens now? Steve experiences a gradual increase in weight (fat) known as creeping obesity. YIKES!!!
Sarcopenia is the medical word for low muscle mass. Unfortunately, we focus on obesity – which is often the external outcome of low and poor quality muscle. First, as your muscles weaken and atrophy your growth hormone (a hormone that stimulates cell reproduction and regeneration, produced in the pituitary gland) decreases. Second, your testosterone goes down. Testosterone is the major sex hormone in men and women. Optimal testosterone levels for men are between 800-1200 ng/dl and for women 100-150 ng/dl. Finally, insulin (a hormone made by the pancreas) and blood sugar go up.
Traditionally, folks have tried to lose body fat by reducing dietary calories and increasing exercise calories with moderate intensity “Aerobic” activity like jogging, walking or swimming. However, we want you to understand that you can build your metabolism through strength training and you can cause your body to use more calories even at rest, while also having all the benefits of having muscle!
By adding or maintaining several pounds of added muscle to your body, you create a demand for your system to burn more calories. Most research has shown that every pound of muscle added to an adult’s body requires 20-100 calories to keep it nourished. 80% of glucose disposal takes place in your muscles!
A high ratio of muscle to fat on the body:
- Increases your metabolic rate, which causes your body to burn more fat
- Helps you be stronger to make daily activities easy
- Increases bone density
- Lowers your risk of injury
- Gets your blood flowing to improve joints which reduces pain
- Improves hormone levels
- Improves aerobic capacity with more muscle using more oxygen
- Triggers muscles to use more insulin to dispose of blood sugar
When it comes to nutrition to help gain muscle and lose fat you need to prioritize eating more protein, fibrous vegetables and a small amount of fruit.
Muscle, to a far greater extent than most people realize, is responsible for the health of your whole physiological apparatus. That is why at Personally Fit we emphasize building muscle and strength. A strong and conditioned musculature makes all sorts of wonderful contributions to your overall well being besides appearance.
Exercising and eating better is a lot more than “move more and eat less”. At Personally Fit we can help you to “Anticipate, Plan and Strategize” in order to be successful! Please contact us to learn more!