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Losing weight, but are you losing muscle mass too?

There’s no end of diets and weight loss strategies that promise that you’ll shed x number of kilos in y number of days. ‘Look sexy by Christmas,’ they shout from magazine covers at the supermarket checkout. ‘Drink our shakes and drop two dress sizes by Sunday,’ they claim. And yes, you probably will lose x number of kilos and you might even fit into that dress you bought on sale even though really it was straining more than a little at the zip. But what’s that rapid weight loss really made of?

What are you really losing?

Recent research has shown that rapid weight loss leads to much more muscle being lost than a more steady approach to reaching your ideal weight. It is suspected that this is because when you are on a very low kilojoule or crash diet, the body is forced to break down extra muscle tissue to create the protein and sugar that is missing from your food intake. As a result, crash dieters can lose up to 50 -80 % of their weight loss as muscle within as little as a fortnight!

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Are you burning fat or muscle?

But I’m skinny now, so why does it matter that I’ve lost muscle?

Maintaining and increasing lean muscle mass as part of your weight loss strategy is important for two key reasons. Firstly, muscle is better at burning off kilojoules than fat, which means that if you have less muscle, your body will use less energy! And that weight you just lost? Well, you can expect to see it creeping back on once you start eating normally again – and probably some extra weight too just to really give you a kick in the guts! Secondly, a body with a good proportion of lean tissue just looks better. So if you want to look good in the buff as well as in your bargain sale dress, making sure your muscle mass is maintained is just good sense.

So, how can I tell if I’m losing muscle or fat?

A DEXA scan is an easy and accurate way to determine both your body composition and where your body is storing fat. Body Measure In Crows Nest can tell you if you are storing dangerous visceral fat around your vital organs like your heart, pancreas and your liver, and let you know what your ideal ratio of body fat to lean tissue is. You can then use this information to reach both a healthy weight AND low body fat. At Body Measure we have recorded muscle loss to fat loss with ratio’s as high as 4:1 – so we have had clients that have lost 5 kg’s of body weight, with 4kg being muscle and only 1kg of weight being fat. This is clearly not ideal. By identifying this early we can make changes to the clients training and nutrition to pushed their bodies to fat burning and Muscle sparing.

The fact is that there are no quick fixes to achieving true health. An active lifestyle and plenty of exercise are vital to reduce visceral fat around the abdomen, no matter how skinny you are on the outside. And when it comes to weight loss, slow and steady so that you can protect your body’s vital muscle mass is the way to go. It might not be as rapid, but it will last a hell of a lot longer. So, eat foods that are good for your body (we know the ones), pick up some weights and commit to making changes for the long term to achieve your health goals. As you start to make changes, regular DEXA scans can show you the changes in your body composition and allow you to tweak your diet and exercise to achieve the results that you are after and say goodbye to the weight loss-gain cycle and yo-yo dieting.

Visit Body Measure in Crows Nest, Sydney, for your DEXA scan to ensure your are burning fat, not muscle!

Call 02 9460 8502 to book your appointment.

One thought on “Losing weight, but are you losing muscle mass too?

  1. Pingback: Is losing weight your New Year resolution? Here’s why we think you need to change your goal | Body Measure | Body Composition Scan | Sydney Australia

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