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Fat into Muscle.  Myth or fact?

When a client says they want to turn their fat into muscle what they are really saying is that they want to lose fat and gain muscle!

Now, there are really two goals in that sentence;

1. Reduce fat

2. Gain muscle.
This is a great goal and losing fat and gaining muscle is the fastest way to improve your body composition. But can it be done at the same time? Well the question is what you need to do to:

1. Loose fat

2. Gain muscle

To lose fat, you need to be in a caloric deficit.

For muscle gain, you need to be in a caloric surplus.

Weight gain or weight loss is essentially calories in vs calories out. When we burn more than what we consume, we lose weight & when we consume more than what we burn, we gain weight!

So you can see that these two goals are in opposition to each other and after 7,500 DEXA scans we know that for long-term body composition changes it is best to lose fat first and then build muscle! So how many calories do I need to be consuming to lose fat, and how many calories do I need to gain muscle? Well, this is a very individualised and person-specific question.

Factors that affect your ability to lose fat and to gain muscle, include:

  • your age
  • amount of lean tissue mass
  • hormonal profile
  • gut health
  • visceral fat levels
  • current fitness levels and
  • your gender

The most accurate and reliable method to understand your metabolism is with a “Metabolic test”. This test takes the guesswork out! It measures your metabolism accurately, based on where you are at today! It’s quick and easy and the results are given to you on the spot.
To summarise. You cannot directly convert fat into muscle (or muscle to fat) and the best way to improve your body composition is to know exactly how many calories to eat for fat loss and how many calories to eat for muscle gain. The best way to know this is to come in and get a metabolic test, and have your results explained with one of our sports scientists at Body Measure.

Can you convert Fat into Muscle?

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Light vs Heavy Weight

THE BEST WAY TO BUILD MUSCLE
When asking individuals, “What is the best way to build muscle?” a common response would be that you HAVE to lift heavy weights! But is this true? A recent meta-analysis conducted by Schoenfield et al. 2016, aimed to find out if you could build muscles using lighter weights. Their conclusions may change the way in which you think about building your muscles.

ABOUT THE STUDY
The study involved two completely untrained groups (men); a “High-load” group were prescribed a moderate repetition range (6-8 reps) at more than 65% of 1rm (rep max) and a “Low-load” group who were delegated a higher repetition range (12+ reps) at less than 65% of 1rm. The results showed that both training groups experienced similar “Hypertrophy” (muscle growth) effects.

Schoenfield et al. 2016 concluded that the most influential factor to muscle gain is that of “Total-work volume” (reps x sets x weight) and if the total volume is similar in both training groups; similar muscle growth should be examined. Arguments arose as experts stated that the individuals that were used to undergo this study where just experiencing the “newbie” gains we obtain when untrained individuals begin weight training. They argued that as the individuals were “untrained” and had not been exposed to any form of resistance training previously; they would, therefore, have a greater muscle potential and a likelihood to respond to any form of training.

Schoenfield et al. 2016, responded to this and performed the same experiment with trained individuals – he got similar results! Equal muscle growth in both the heavy and lightweight groups.

 

So what does this mean for you?

Well, it means that if you love lifting heavy weights with low reps you should still go for it, but if you like lifting lighter weights with higher reps then you can do this and get the same muscle growth on your body!

Although imagine the effect of lifting both lighter weights vs heavyweights on the longevity of your being. The heavier we lift, the higher the risk of injury we may be exposed too. A big reason why we see some of our clients stall and go backwards in their body composition goals is from injury.

We often see injuries in our clients who are heavy lifters. Injuries are obviously counterproductive for regular training. This is not to say you powerlifters or individuals out there who do love to lift heavy should cease to train the way you enjoy, but mixing the training methods between the two may be beneficial to allow your Central Nervous System (CNS) to recovery from your heavy lifting sessions.

If you have any question about this article or your specific training program, you can speak more about this to our experts at the Crows Nest Clinic.

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ACHIEVING RESULTS THROUGH DEXA

ACHIEVING RESULTS THROUGH DEXA.
Congrats to Pretty P, Body Measure’s client of the month for November!

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Pretty P Body Measure’s November client of the month

 

She has achieve great results in the past year. Pretty has reduced her body fat percentage from 18.9% to a lean 15.5%

You can see on Pretty’s latest DEXA scan she now has a very visible waist line and significantly lower levels of internal fat, both intramuscular and visceral (the bad fat around your organs).

As the winner she has received a discounted scan from body measure!

Hear it from Pretty herself! This is her story:

“I got my DEXA scan in 2015, I was struggling to achieve fat loss and to gain good lean muscle at the same time. After my first scan I worked hard on my body composition. Today, after getting a DEXA scan I am happy with my result. All the hard work has paid off. DEXA scan gave me clear picture of my body and helped me to gain results!”- PRETTY P, November 2016

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POWER OF PERSISTENCE

Client of the month

Congrats to our first client of the month!

Elaine is a client of ours at Body Measure, Crow’s Nest and has been coming since Jan 2015.
She is a great example of what perseverance and consistently measuring your results can do. We see so many clients start and give up. Those that get measured regularly and never give up, always get the body they want.

Elaine’s progress was up and down- then she got all her ducks in a row and … WOW… look at her now!

In the past 10 weeks she has:

DROPPED 2 body fat percentages. Now a lean 17% (where most bikini contestants need to sit at)

INCREASED her lean muscle mass by a whopping 2.3kg

DECREASED her fat mass by 1.1kg

She is heavier now by 1kg but has a much better and sexier body composition (which is why scales are so frustrating and totally misleading) This is why DEXA is the smart way to go!
We are stoked to be a part of Elaine’s fat loss journey. Through accurate measuring of body composition, we know she has gone anabolic (that is put on muscle at the same time as losing fat- the best way to change your body composition)

We now have the data she needs to maintain her new fit body!

If you have fallen off the wagon pick up the phone and call us to book an appointment (02) 9460 8502 and get the body you want just like Elaine did!

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Not happy with your DEXA scan results? It’s not personal

We’ll be upfront. Having a DEXA scan can sometimes be a bit confronting. Knowing EXACTLY how much fat is on your body, how much of your weight is fat or muscle, and where you are storing fat can sometimes feel like a bit too much information.

But, here’s the thing to remember – it’s just data.

It’s what you do with the data that matters. There’s very little point in getting upset because you’ve discovered that you’re not as healthy as you thought, or that you’re thin-inside-fat-outside (TOFI).

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Instead, see that information as a gift. The old saying that knowledge is power can serve you well. You have the knowledge about your body, its composition and your overall health, and you have the power to use that knowledge to make behaviour changes that WILL have an impact. And once you’ve made those changes, you can come in for a follow up DEXA scan and be presented with the visual evidence that your choices are making a difference.

What if it’s the lack of progress on the second scan that is the problem

Ah, yes, this is a common scenario. And we usually find there are three usual reasons behind the lack of results:

Focusing too much on exercise but still eating whatever you want

Exercise is great for building muscle, cardiovascular health and mental wellbeing. It’s not, however, great for fat loss. Fat loss really needs to be driven from the kitchen. You can’t outrun a bad diet!

Over exercising

Yes, exercise is good and we should aim to be active every day. But being active every day doesn’t mean punishing yourself in the gym for 90 minutes six days a week. Overexercising is a major cause of cortisol spikes which encourage your body to store fat. A DEXA scan can help us to devise the optimum training regime for you, but typically a great week of activity would look something like this: two to three strength workouts, one to two sprinting sessions of less than 10 minutes each, and generally being active in a gentle way every day. This means walking the dog, doing the gardening and housework, maybe going for a surf – basically activities that you enjoy and add to your quality of life.

Fear of fat:

Yes, not eating enough fat is a big problem for many of our clients. goodfat-omega3-dexa-bodymeasure-crowsnest-sydney-dexascanningFirstly, low fat foods are often supplemented with sugar to make them taste better, and are less satiating so you end up eating more than you would have otherwise. Secondly, eating high quality fats – like avocados, eggs, grass fed meats and sustainable oily fish – helps become more lean and reduce body fat by improving the liver’s ability to burn fat.

Have you come in for a DEXA scan yet? Are you anxious about what the results might reveal? Don’t be scared, our experienced team is here to help you understand the data and develop a realistic and achievable action plan for you to get the results you want. Call us today on 9460 8502 to book an appointment at our Crows Nest clinic.

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Intramuscular fat- how much do you have?

Did you know our DEXA machine is the ONLY machine that can measure INTRAMUSCULAR FAT?

Intramuscular fat is the fat in your muscles, rather than the fat under the skin and for a long time has been largely ignored. It’s often referred to as intramuscular triglycerides, which help to provide fuel to the body.

But, just like the intramuscular fat in a nicely marbled Wagyu steak, this intramuscular fat can actually be GOOD. It can help body builders have fuller looking muscles, and provides long term energy for endurance athletes who don’t have much extra muscular fat to use as a fuel source. The trick is in knowing how much you have and the ratio compared to your other fat cells and lean muscle tissue.

Below are 4 male DEXA scan pictures, from left to right, the body fat measurements are 10%, 12%, 16% and 24%.

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Blue on the scan represents lean tissue, muscle and organs, and the green or light blue represents FAT! If you look at the thighs on the 10% male scan, you can see mainly dark blue with light blue speckles. This is marbling. This guy is like a lean cut of meat. If you look at the 24% male body scan, you will notice a lot of green dots and smudges in the upper thigh. This is like a wagyu steak- a fatty cut of meat.

Due to genetics and different training styles, some people can have the same amount of total fat on their body (ie. both be 11% body fat) but look different.

Body Measure recently scanned a personal trainer that had 12% body fat, and when he returned 3 months later he walked into our clinic looking much leaner. His second DEXA scan revealed his body fat percentage actually increased by 0.6%, despite looking much leaner. He had been doing a very intense high volume style of training called hurricane sessions (high intensity interval training). During this his body adapted by storing intramuscular triglycerides for fuelling in his thighs and arms. During this process he did lose subcutaneous fat, resulting in him looking leaner with fuller muscles. The increase in body fat percentage was from the accumulation of increased intramuscular fat.

Without being able to see this intramuscular fat increase the client wouldn’t have been able to recognise the true benefits of his training.

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Is this what you look like on the inside?

Body Measure has the only machine that measures intramuscular fat – we really can tell you what is going on in the inside!!

Our machine is accurate to the gram and can give you immediate results.  We can tell you where you are losing fat from under the skin, between the muscles or from your organs (the bad visceral fat- and yes, this is the ONLY DEXA scanner that can do this) and what the health implications – positive and negative –  are for your individual goals and circumstances.

Book in for a Dexa scan and find out your intramuscular fat levels in a matter of minutes!

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Fat: Making friends with this former dietary enemy

For years, we were told that eating fat was turning us all into fatty boombaladas, causing heart disease and sending us to an early grave. And so, everyone turned to the low-fat and no-fat “foods” that flooded the market. But what happened? The obesity epidemic didn’t subside. No, obesity levels have continued to increase with the resulting medical complications now one of the top health challenges of our era.

It turns out fat isn’t the public enemy number one we thought it was.

Instead, fat is a critical part of our diets.

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Grilled Atlantic salmon with an avocado and tomato salsa. Delicious healthy eating with GOOD fats!

Fat is vital for good nutrition

Did you know there is a source of nutrients we can’t get from any other foods or make ourselves. These are called essential fatty acids, and without them in your diet you cannot have good health. It plays a key role in helping our bodies actually absorb nutrients and is used to make many vitamins, in particular Vitamin A, D, E and K. To get the full vitamin hit from your garden salad or your plate of steamed greens, you need to add some healthy fat to your plate.

Fat makes food taste better

As well as making food good for us, fat makes food good to eat too. This was one of the biggest problems of the low-fat/no-fat dogma, as to make these foods palatable manufacturers needed to replace the fat with something else. What else makes food taste good? Sugar and salt, neither of which are exactly innocent when it comes to our health.

Eating fat helps you burn fat

Healthy fats play an important role in improving the liver’s ability to burn fat. Yes, if you want to burn off that unhealthy fat that is around your internal organs, you need to be eating dietary fats to initiate that fat-burning process. Before and after DEXA scans can give you the visual evidence of the results you can get from adding the right fats to your diet.

But don’t hoe into the deep-fried Mars bars and triple cheeseburgers

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Remember not all fat is created equal..

The important thing to remember is that all fats are not created equal. When it comes to fat, some are very, very good, and others are very, very bad. It’s also important to be conscious of your fat intake as fats are calorie dense foods and need to be consumed with deliberate intent. Be smart and strategic with the fats you eat for maximum health benefit.

So, what fats should you be eating?

The best fats to eat are minimally processed, real foods. Some examples of healthy high fat foods, as recommended by Authority Nutrition, include:

  • Avocados
  • Cheese
  • Whole eggs
  • Sustainable oily fish
  • Nuts
  • Butter from grass-fed cows
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Coconuts and coconut oil
  • Full-fat natural yoghurt

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It’s time to stop being afraid of fat and instead, make fat your friend. For so many of our clients, we’ve seen the amazing changes in their body composition from simple diet changes, including increasing the amount of healthy fat they eat. Before and after DEXA scans have shown that this fat loss has been primarily the unhealthy and dangerous visceral fat around internal organs in the abdominal cavity.

Have you been fat-phobic in an effort to lose weight? Has increasing the fat in your diet improved your health?

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Are you exercising too much? Physical stress and fat stores

cortisol-overexercise-dexa-bodymeasure-crowsnestWe see it all the time: client comes in, they want to lose weight – ideally fat. In pursuit of that goal of fat loss, they’ve been watching what they eat and hitting the gym every day. Sometimes, even twice a day! But despite all that exercising, they’re just not getting the results and we can see the frustration radiating off them.

“Why aren’t I getting results?” we get asked. The answer a lot of the time is stress. When you are under stress, your body produces more cortisol and more cortisol means more fat stores. But we don’t just mean emotional stress, physical stress is a significant and often overlooked trigger for cortisol production – especially in our enthusiastic exerciser example.

As Chris Kresser says, “when a goal of exercise is to lose weight or improve energy, overtraining can clearly be a barrier to achieving those goals.” Extreme exercise produces an immediate increase in cortisol, and chronically high levels of cortisol can increase your risk for a range of health problems, such as sleep disturbance (which can also hinder fat loss – see our blog post on sleep and fat!), digestive issues, depression, weight gain and memory impairment. Excess cortisol also encourages fat gain, especially around the abdomen, and we know how dangerous that abdominal fat can be.

So how do you know if you are putting your body under too much stress when exercising? You can start by doing a simple exercise test. For example, you might be able to do five pull ups when you aren’t stressed. But two days later, you find you can only do three pull ups. Of course it doesn’t have to be pull ups- it can be any simple exercises, for example, a vertical leap or a chin up. That’s a big warning sign that your body hasn’t recovered and you will trigger the production of cortisol and store fat, rather than burn it.

To get the maximum benefit from your exercise regime, without promoting excessive cortisol production, try the following tips:overexercise-cortisol-dexascan-bodymeasure-crowsnest

  • Reduce the frequency: Limit high intensity, high stress exercise to only two or three times a week.
  • Get enough rest: It’s important to give your body time to recover and get enough sleep. If you are having trouble sleeping through the night, evaluate the intensity of your training schedule.
  • Have a break: Take a regular, planned break from intense training.
  • Get more variety: High intensity exercise can be great for reducing body fat and increasing lean muscle mass. But balance this with a form of exercise that helps to control your cortisol levels, such as a regular yoga practice.
  • Be smart about your carbohydrates: Low-carb eating is a good way to decrease body fat, but if you are doing high intensity training, it’s important to strike the right balance. Choose healthy, slow burning carbs such as those found in root vegetables.

Are you training hard but not seeing results? Or are you feeling rundown and exhausted? Come back for a follow up DEXA scan and we can assess the changes in your body composition and help to identify if you might be overtraining and placing your body under too much stress.

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Pounding the pavement to shift those kilos? Think about lifting kilos instead!

In every gym around the country, and plenty of parks and footpaths too, you can see people slogging away at cardio exercise in an effort to lose weight. Huffing and puffing, there’s no doubt that they’re working hard, but are they really going to get the results that they are after?

We’d be inclined to say, sadly no. They might lose weight, but not necessarily fat. A Penn State study put dieters into three groups – no exercise, cardio exercise only, and cardio exercise and weight training – and while they all lost weight, the weight lifting group lost around three kilos more fat than the other groups. The weight lifting group’s loss was almost pure fat, while the others lost both fat and muscle. And as we know, losing muscle will decrease your metabolic rate and contribute to a range of other health problems.

Cardio exercise, like running, cycling and swimming is great for improving your heart health and for burning fat for the period of time that you are exercising. But to alter your body to burn fat more effectively all day, even when you are sitting at your desk or asleep in your bed, you really need to build more muscle mass.

Why weight training trumps cardio for fat loss

One of the main reasons why weight training is better than cardio for fat loss is the post-workout effect on metabolism. Weight training can trigger increased calorie burn for up to 36 hours after you’ve finished your session!

A second factor is that in addition to burning more calories after the workout itself, weight training will increase the amount of lean muscle mass in your body. This lean muscle mass will increase your basal metabolic rate (the amount of calories you’d burn just lying in bed all day doing nothing but breathing), and make your body a more efficient fat burning machine all day, every day, not just training days.

Weight training also promotes an anabolic state in the body , encouraging the creation and maintenance of lean muscle tissue. Cardio training however can cause a catabolic state in the body, triggering the release of the stress hormone cortisol which can lead to muscle loss and also promote fat accumulation in the abdominal region. And as we’ve discussed before, abdominal fat is bad news!

How to get your muscles to do the heavy weight-loss lifting

The best approach for fat loss is metabolic strength training – a high-intensity, full-body interval workout. Rather than a traditional body-building program using free weights and weight machines, metabolic strength training is based on a variety of combinations and repetitions using free weights, kettlebells, barbells, dumbbells and resistance bands. Rather than being about how much you can lift, it is about making the body efficient, lean, toned and strong.

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To get the maximum benefits from metabolic strength training, try these tips from Alwyn Cosgrove, author of The New Rules of Lifting for Life:

  • Train the whole body on non-consecutive days, three to four times per week
  • Use compound exercises with free weights
  • Choose a weight that allows you to complete no more than three to four sets of 12 to 15 repetitions if you’re a beginner, or six to eight reps if you are an experienced lifter
  • Keep your rest time between sets to under a minute
  • Alternate sets of lower-body and upper-body exercises
  • Continually challenge yourself with heavier weights and new and different exercise variations

So, don’t be scared of lifting weights to achieve your weight loss goals! Strength training will allow your body to develop more lean muscle tissue and change your body composition. You’ll increase your metabolic rate and turn your body into a strong and efficient fat burning machine that not only looks better but works better too. We see the effects of this type of training at Body Measure all the time- it works! Come in an see us for a DEXA scan- we can help you achieve your goals and keep you on track with your training!

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Anabolic versus catabolic: What’s the difference and why does it matter for your health?

The terms anabolic and catabolic are well-known in the weightlifting and body building communities, but we believe it’s time that the broader community understood what these terms mean and use that knowledge to improve health and well-being!

So, what do these terms mean?

Anabolic and catabolic essentially refer to whether your body is building tissue or breaking it down. An anabolic state means your body is building or repairing tissue, whereas a catabolic state means your body is breaking down tissue. Workouts are either anabolic or catabolic, and each has a different effect on your body.

Anabolic workouts are focused on strength training, and will increase muscle mass. The effect of anabolic training actually takes place during rest and high intensity training, when the body produces more muscle fibres to replace the ones that were broken during exercise. By increasing your muscle mass, your body will burn fat more effectively when at rest. Classic anabolic hormones include growth hormone, insulin and testosterone.

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Catabolic training predominantly involves cardio exercise sessions of at least 20 to 45 minutes in duration, and will cause your body to release hormones such as cortisol, norepinephrine and adrenalin. Catabolic training will cause a loss of total body mass and is an effective fat burner while you are exercising.

Which is better?

We believe that for most people, it is better to exercise in a way that encourages your body to be in an anabolic state. Anabolism is necessary to grow muscle tissue, increase bone density and also encourages the production of white blood cells to boost your immune system. By increasing muscle mass, your body will burn fat more effectively all day – not just when you are exercising. It is vital to ensure that you are eating enough, as if your body has inadequate resources to fuel muscle repair, it will actually break down undamaged muscle tissue to repair damaged muscle tissue!

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How to promote anabolism

Becoming more anabolic isn’t just a matter of increasing your weight training. It requires a combination of training, good nutrition and rest. Here are some tips on how to be more anabolic:

  1. Watch what you eat: A diet that focuses on fresh, natural and unprocessed foods is ideal. Aim for simple home cooked meals based around protein, good fats and clean, slow burning carbs.
  2. Sleep your way to success: Sleep and rest are vital to promoting anabolism as this is when the body will repair broken muscle tissue and grow new muscle. Aim for eight hours of sleep a night and make sure you are giving your body a chance to renew itself.
  3. Train using compound movements: Exercises like squats, deadlifts and push and pull variations develop the whole body, rather than just one muscle group. This helps to promote an anabolic state as the body will keep burning fat for hours after your workout.
  4. Reduce stress: Both mental and physical stress can lower your immunity and hamper muscle repair. The stress hormone, cortisol, is associated with a catabolic state and is known to increase blood pressure and blood sugar, and reduces immune responses.
  5. Avoid alcohol: Yes, we know this is never popular advice! But alcohol hampers the process of protein synthesis and lowers testosterone levels, both of which are necessary for muscle growth. So save the beer and wine for an occasional indulgence.
  6. Eat green vegetables: Plenty of green veggies will provide your body with phytonutrients to trigger anabolism.

So there you have it, an overview of the difference between anabolic and catabolic states, and what that can mean for your health. To get an indication of the amount of muscle tissue in your body, come in for a DEXA scan and we can help to tailor your training to help you turn into a lean, fat-burning machine.