Saturday, November 27, 2010

Why you should lose body fat, not muscle

Body weight is more than just a number. A scale gives you the total weight of several components that make up your body weight.
The same way it does not make sense to cut off a limb to weigh less, it does not make sense to blindly reduce your body weight through a weight loss program without knowing which component of your body weight you are losing or reducing.
At the end of this article it should become clear to you why it is important for you to try to lose body fat, not muscle when you go on a weight loss program.

The 4 basic components of body weight

When you step onto a scale, you are measuring the total weight of the following 4 components:
  1. Water
  2. Muscle tissue
  3. Bones
  4. Fat
You have direct control over only 3 of these components. When you go on a weight loss program you can lose water, muscle tissue, and/or fat. You cannot lose bones.
While I’ve already hinted previously that you should try to lose body fat, not muscle when you go on a weight loss program, you must know what each component is used for by your body so that you can get a better understanding of the logic behind the science of weight loss.

Why do you need water?

You can go days without eating, but you cannot go days without drinking water. You need water to live. Without water, death occurs within days.
Water makes up from 40 to 60% of your body mass and constitutes 65 to 75% of the weight of muscle and approximately 50% of the weight of body fat.
Water:
  • Transports nutrients and gases through your body.
  • Removes waste products from your body.
  • Regulates your body’s temperature.
  • Lubricates joints.
  • Helps give structure and form to your body because it is a component of both muscle and fat tissue.
So it is not wise to reduce your water intake when you go on a weight loss program, because it is vital to your survival.

Why do you need muscle tissue?

Muscles enable you to move your body. Without muscles you would not be able to stand up straight, walk, lift things, eat, speak, etc. In addition, muscles provide you with a natural fat-burning effect, because they increase your BMR while you’re at rest.
So it is wise to try to maintain the amount of muscle tissue you have when you go on a weight loss program. And because we only have one component left, which you can lose to reduce your body weight, it is clear that you should try to lose body fat, not muscle when you go on a diet.
But let’s take a look at why you should lose body fat, not muscle, but still need some fat to live.

Why do you need fat?

Body fat exists in two storage locations or depots:
  1. As essential fat in bone marrow and in your heart, lungs, liver, spleen, kidneys, intestines, muscles, and lipid-rich tissues of the nervous system. You need this fat for normal physiologic functioning.
  2. As storage fat in between your internal organs and beneath your skin’s surface. This is a nutritional reserve which accumulates when you have a caloric excess, that is, when you consume more calories than that you expend.
While you need fat for your body to function properly, you can live without some of your storage fat. So it is best to try to lose body fat, not muscle when you go on a weight loss program.

Conclusion: Lose body fat, not muscle

When you step onto a scale, you are measuring the amount of water, bones, muscle tissue, and fat in your body.
When you go on a weight loss program, you should try to lose body fat, not muscle. And don’t forget to stay hydrated! Drink lots and lots of water!

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