We need to be made aware of the effects different weight loss strategies have on our health.
The traditional weight loss strategy of focussing solely on calorie reduction can cause us to lose muscle as well as body fat.
This is detrimental to our long-term health as we need muscle for our metabolic health and to maintain our functional capacity (strength and fitness).
We know that from the age of 45, we’re prone to losing up to 1% of muscle mass per year via a process called Sarcopenia. It’s something we want to slow down rather than speed up!
Let’s look at how we can maintain muscle mass by changing our weight loss strategy.
When the only action we take to lose weight is to reduce calories, we are likely to lose muscle. Muscle loss can contribute up to 35% of total weight loss. Reducing muscle mass makes it harder to manage weight in the future as your metabolic rate reduces.
So, what can we do?
Reduce Calories, Increase Protein
While reducing calorie intake, increasing protein is a great first step to preserve muscle. By preserving muscle, we also preserve our strength, fitness, and metabolic rate. The recommendations suggest consuming 0.75gm of protein per kg of body weight. By adding sufficient protein, we can reduce the muscle loss to 20% of total weight loss.
Is there anything else we can do?
Reduce Calories, Increase Protein, and Include Strength Training
By increasing protein and adding strength training to your plan, you will be doing all you can to preserve your muscle mass while losing body fat. Research shows that by adding protein and strength training, we can reduce muscle loss to just 5% of total weight loss. Strength training not only helps preserve muscle, but it also improves the quality of the muscle and, therefore, will improve your metabolic health and physical fitness.
Guidelines suggest strength training twice per week.
By including sufficient protein and strength training in your weight loss strategy, you can preserve muscle, maintain your physical fitness, and make long-term weight management easier.