It’s a sad statistic that approximately 90% of people who lose weight, eventually regain all of their weight back and then some. How depressing is this and why is it a fact? What are we doing wrong and what can we do to change this? I feel the main reason for this is because we DIET! We are not making a lifestyle change. It is actually unhealthier for us to gain and lose weight rather than just maintain the weight we are, even if you are over weight. Why? Because every time we lose weight, we lose fat, water and muscle (if you aren’t working out). When we lose muscle, our metabolism slows. Why? Because muscle is metabolically active. It burns fat even at rest. So, a body builder with lots of muscles burns more fat doing nothing simply because muscle burns calories at rest. When you exercise, you use muscle. This helps build muscle mass and muscle tissue burns more calories (even at rest) than body fat. Ten pounds of muscle would burn about 50 calories a day AT REST. When it comes to ‘weight’ loss, your scale is going to show you your total weight which includes muscle, fat, bone and water as they all contribute to that number you see on the scale. In fact, muscle takes up anywhere between 30-55% of your body weight depending on your exercise level, fat is around 10-30% of your body weight, water is 10-25% and bone is about 15% of body weight. There are certainly many, many variables that would change all of these number (especially your fitness level) but in general, they are for the average person. The number on the scale doesn’t tell the whole story of ‘weight’ loss compared to ‘fat’ loss which is the goal. Remember too that muscle weighs more than fat so the more muscle you have on your body, the heavier you are. In this case, it’s a good thing because remember, muscle is metabolically active so you are burning more calories at rest. If you are just starting a work out routine in order to lose weight (good for you) the scale may go up before it goes down, based on muscle weighing more than fat. Fat is actually quite light. It’s so light in fact, it floats. And, one pound of muscle is 4 times smaller in size than one pound of fat because the muscle is denser than fat.
So, let’s use this scenario (this is very basic): You go on a diet and you don’t exercise as many of us don’t.
- You start at 200 pounds
- You lose 50 pounds, but you do not lose 50 pounds of FAT. You are losing some muscle and water as well.
- You gain 50 pounds so you are back to 200 pounds but you do not gain muscle weight because you are not exercising
- So, even though you weigh the same as what you started, you are ‘fatter’ because you only put on fat
- Now your fat:muscle ratio is skewed and you have less muscle and more fat
- Essentially you are ‘fatter’ but the scale is the same
Each time you ‘diet’ you lose more muscle and gain more fat. Your fat cells essentially get larger so it’s no wonder it gets harder and harder to lose weight as we get older, depending how many times you’ve lost and gained weight. Haven’t you ever said to yourself “I used to lose weight so easily and now I have to be so strict and I still can’t lose weight”? This is why.
The solution? Don’t diet! Change your lifestyle and stick to it. If you cannot eat exactly the way you eat when you are ‘dieting’ for the rest of your life, don’t even start it. You’re better off just maintaining the weight you’re at than to lose and gain weight…I mean fat. Also, exercise. Even if it is just walking around the block a few times at a faster than casual pace in order to maintain and/or gain muscle.