The epidemic of obesity is steadily increasing in the United States and worldwide. This is nothing new, we hear about it frequently on the news and from the medical community. Over the last 70 years, each generation has grown increasingly heavier than the generation before them, and that trend does not seem to be changing. Even people that look healthy on the outside often carry around unnecessary body fat. It is obvious that everyone should be eating better and exercising to lose weight. That seems like it should be the ultimate goal for everyone, right?
You probably thought losing weight was the most important goal for pretty much everyone. Since our waistline is expanding, that is the reason we should work out, right?
Before you panic, give me a chance to explain what I mean.
The Goal of Weight Loss Is A Fallacy
Although it seems logical that weight loss should be your focus, especially if you need to lose weight, it should not be your main focus. Most people who are trying to lose weight obsessively weight themselves each day (sometimes multiple times per day) and become frustrated because their weight loss is not linear.
Here is the secret. When you are losing weight the right way, the results are not linear.
Again. When you are losing weight the right way, the results are not linear. When you have a significant amount of weight to lose, such as 50 pounds or more, your weight might decrease in a linear manner to start, with the right nutrition. However, eventually you will not lose weight at a steady rate each week until you reach the perfect weight.
“I lost six to eight pounds each week for the last three months! I’m losing weight linearly.”
I hate to tell you, but you have probably lost a lot of muscle mass. Muscle is the key to revving up your metabolism. If you want to increase your metabolism, muscle is not worth sacrificing. It does not make any sense to decrease your metabolism to increase it.
There is one advantage to having excess weight; you actually have more muscle than a skinny person. You develop the additional muscle to help you carry around extra weight. Since you have this physical advantage, do not waste this extra muscle by losing it through extreme weight loss programs.
Typical Fast Weight Loss Pitfalls
For many years, we have seen plenty of diets that promote rapid weight loss via reality shows, books, and documentaries. Of course, it is tempting. Lose 100 pounds in 60 days, or 20 pounds in 15 days. This can all happen with some cleanse/fasting/no meat/bland/whatever diet. No worries! Just stick to the diet for 14 days/30 days/60 days and everything will be wonderful forever. Some people have found success with these methods. Aside from lacking the necessary behavioral changes to lose weight, these methods have another major problem. Allow me to explain.
Many years ago, I saw a documentary about a man who wanted to lose a lot of weight with juice fasting. For 60 days he ate no food, he only fasted with juice.
Did he lose weight? Yes, of course.
“Wow! He lost weight by eating nothing for 60 days? Amazing!”
He looked like a totally different person after losing over 80 pounds in that short period of time. However, he did not lose just any type of weight.
Fortunately, he had regular medical assistance and monitoring during his fast to ensure he did not die or suffer other medical problems. His body composition was also monitored at different intervals. After the fast was over, they determined the amount of muscle and fat he lost over the 60 days. He lost 35lbs of muscle and 45lbs of fat.
My reaction was… “35 POUNDS OF FREAKING MUSCLE?!?!”
They glazed over his stats in the documentary. They focused on the amount of fat he lost and paid no attention to the amount of muscle he lost.
In my book, losing 35 pounds of muscle is not a success. I have lost 40 pounds before and did not lose 35 pounds of muscle with it. When I lost fat, I also gained muscle. Was my weight loss linear? In the beginning, it was, but after a month or so, it was not.
My goal is not to discredit what the man accomplished during his weight loss or the documentary. Some people will find success with different methods and they should do what works for them. In my experience, those are extreme methods and the resulting muscle loss is also extreme. Few people consider this when they start a weight loss program. Muscle loss is collateral damage that is often considered expendable, but it is not.
When you only emphasize the nutritional aspects and do not focus on strength training while you are trying to lose weight, that is what happens. It seems great that the weight is disappearing. However, flabby arms and man boobs do not disappear. That is the disappointing part.
“After I lose the weight, can I just build the muscle back up?”
If you do not mind strength training for at least a year, you can gain the muscle back. Depending on multiple factors, such as your strength training routine, genetics, and your history of strength training, you can lose muscle with just two months of fasting, but it takes at least a year of hard work to regain it. Seems like fun…