Lose weight the easier way
Here’s a familiar scenario. In January, Jane and Bob agree to lose weight – together. Jane watches what she eats, counts every calorie, and spends hours on the treadmill every day. After a month, she’s down by a pound.
Meanwhile, Bob decides to drink less soda and manages to cut down to one can a week from his usual four. He gets to the gym when he can – maybe three times a week – but half the time, he ends up cutting his workout short. One month of this, and he is ten pounds lighter!
What the heck? Why does this happen? (I can hear women around the world gnashing their teeth from here.)
There are many physiological reasons, but the difference in their muscle mass is one of the biggies.
Let’s compare two women. Jane and Mary both have the same amount of fat, but Mary has an extra 15lb of muscle.
If, for one year, Jane did exactly what Mary did to maintain her weight– snowboarding, sleeping, swearing in six languages, whatever – Jane would actually gain 18lbs of fat, increasing her body fat percentage to 35%. Just because of the differences in their resting muscle mass.
The other thing you might notice is that since Mary has more muscle and weighs more overall, despite having the same amount of fat, she actually has a lower percentage of body fat.
Weight versus size
Since muscle is more dense than fat, 1lb of muscle will take less space than 1lb of fat.
If you gained 10lb of muscle at the same time you lost 10lb of fat, you would be smaller. About 1/4th a gallon smaller. On the scale you would weigh the same. But your pants would be looser.
Let’s say you and your friend decide to start two different weight loss programs at the same time. After 6 months, you’ve lost 10lb by working out and eating right, while your friend has lost 11lb by lying in bed drinking coffee and watching TV.
Your 10lb scale weight loss might equal a 10lb muscle gain with a 20lb fat loss. If so, you’d be 3 gallons smaller.
On the scale, it would look like your friend who lost 11lb (9lb of muscle and 2lb of fat) was doing better, but in fact, she’d only be 2.5 gallons smaller, making her change bigger than you. Ha!
Meanwhile, going forward, who will maintain her new weight more effectively? It sure won’t be your friend.
Of course, this is an oversimplification, because muscle and fat are not the only things at play. But the message is the same – losing weight is very different from losing fat.
|Size matters. Five pounds of fat takes up more space than 5 pounds of muscle.|