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Is losing weight your New Year resolution? Here’s why we think you need to change your goal

Every year as the clock clicks over from 11.59pm on 31 December to 12.00am on 1 January, millions of people worldwide resolve that this is the year that they are going to lose weight. Promotions will abound for January detoxes, special deals on the latest meal replacement shake craze, and all the diet companies will boost their advertising spend to capture the good intentions (not to mention the hard earned dollars) of those millions. And without a doubt, some of those people will lose weight, and lose it quickly. They’ll feel very pleased with themselves, go back to living normally and BAM, a few months later that weight is right back.

Why weight loss shouldn’t be the goal

The reason behind this yo-yo weight loss and gain cycle is simple. For most people, when they lose weight quickly what they are actually losing is water and muscle tissue. This is then a double edged sword for lean muscle mass is a very effective fat burner, so not only do you lose the muscle tissue you also then create an environment where your body is less able to burn off kilojoules.weightbearingexercise-dexa-bodymeasure-sydney-crowsnest

We believe it is much better to shift your focus to fat loss. Yes, the numbers will probably still pleasingly head downwards on your scales for a nice little bit of reinforcement, but the approach taken to achieve this goal is different. You’re not going to be looking for a quick fix, but rather making lifestyle changes that will set you up for a lifetime of good health.

How to promote fat loss

One of the most important factors in promoting fat loss, especially that dangerous fat around your abdomen, is regular exercise. Weight bearing exercise to build lean muscle tissue should be an integral part of your weekly fitness routine, combined with whatever other activities you enjoy.

What you are eating of course also plays an incredibly important role in fat loss. There’s loads of diets and approaches to food out there that go in and out of favour, so our advice is to cut down on processed foods, prioritise lots of vegetables in particular leafy greens, and avoid too much sugar (by the way, we’ve said it before, but alcohol is pretty much carbohydrate – i.e. sugar!). Don’t fall into the trap of eating “low-fat” foods, as typically the fat is replaced by a high amount of sugar to make the food more palatable. Choose quality fats such as olive oil, coconut oil and animal fat from free range, grass fed meat. Quality fat in sensible quantities are an important element of overall health. Keep the mantra “Just Eat Real Food” in your mind when making your food choices.

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“But I can’t see fat loss on my scales?” How to know if you are getting results?

It can be hard to give up the thrall of the bathroom scales when you shift to focusing on fat loss rather than weight loss. And for most people, they will absolutely lose kilos when they first embark on this lifestyle change, but it doesn’t show the full picture.

In contrast, regular DEXA scans can show how your body composition is changing and give you visual proof of fat tissue being replaced by lean muscle mass. We can show you how many kilos of fat you have lost, not just how many kilos of fat, water and muscle you have. Our clients find that this information is very motivating and helps to no only ensure their training is on track, but maintain their lifestyle changes long after rapid weight loss has stopped and they move into maintenance phases of health.

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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.