The Scale Lies to You!

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The Most Effective Way to Lose Body Fat

Recently a friend of mine wondered why she only lost 1 pound after going to the gym 5 days a week for 4 weeks in a row. She used the elliptical machine for 15 – 50 minutes each time with occasional use of weights, sit-ups and planks. To top it all off, she quit drinking soda and didn’t feel like her clothes were fitting any different after the 4-week period.

An experience like this can be very frustrating and is one reason many people stop working out – they don’t see results!

The key is knowing that the scale is very misleading. Muscle is more dense than fat, so when you lose fat and gain muscle the scale commonly stays the same or goes up even though you look fitter, leaner and have less fat on your body. Also, steady-state cardiovascular exercise (endurance training) is not the best way to lose body fat. Lifting weights (strength training) is a much more effective option.

The more muscle you have, the more fat you will burn. Instead of doing endurance training such as using the treadmill, elliptical machine or bicycle for 5 days a week, do strength training 3 – 4 days a week. Then you can add the cardiovascular exercise in short intervals for variety and fun.

Strength training is the most effective method for fat loss if you do it right. First, it increases your metabolic rate over both short and long periods of time. You are still burning fat 24 – 48 hours after an intense strength training session because of that increase in your metabolic rate.

Furthermore, strength training helps you maintain your total lean muscle mass, which creates an increase in your metabolism. Endurance training only increases your metabolic rate during the time you are training, so you are losing out on many hours of burning fat post-workout. And, doing a ton of endurance training actually decreases your total lean body mass with a reduction in your metabolism over time, which works against fat loss.

Strength training changes your body composition (muscle mass vs. fat mass). When you just use the elliptical machine, for example, you may lose pounds on the scale but still have the same proportion of muscle mass to body fat mass. You may even look smaller, but you are soft and squishy instead of being lean and firm. Strength training helps you change the way your body looks entirely by making you lean and fit. So the next time you’re at the gym, visit the weight room instead.

Heather Binns, Fabletics Master

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