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The Anaheim Ducks are an NHL team based in Anaheim, California. The Anaheim Ducks have won the Pacific division every year since the 2012-2013 season and have made the Western Conference championship two of the last three years.
Mark Fitzgerald is the strength and conditioning coach for the Anaheim Ducks and the owner of Elite Training Systems, a high-performance training center catered to athletes. His philosophy is improving player performance through training, nutrition, and rest. The NHL season is physically demanding and hectic. Thus, Fitzgerald was looking for technology that could measure his player’s body composition in-house quickly and provide accurate, informative outputs. After referrals from trusted sources and self-experimentation, Fitzgerald found his solution in the InBody.
A tool to better utilize the Ducks’ time
Time constraints are an issue every NHL franchise must manage. The Ducks had the extra challenge of having the longest travel schedule in the league for the 2016-2017 season. During the course of 82 games and the 40,000+ travel miles, their players’ bodies began to break down.
“The travel and the schedule are very real issues. If you don’t take them into account in your nutrition profile, your rest, your work to rest on the ice, then you’re going to be putting your athletes in a pretty dangerous position.”
Fitzgerald created a comprehensive program to keep players healthy and ready to play. Players receive a daily report on their bodies’ readiness to perform. This allows Fitzgerald to track player condition and create open dialogue between player and coach.
Body composition is a vital metric of the assessment. The challenge was how to test the players consistently and accurately.
Fitzgerald had experience working with calipers and although they were quick and easy to use, he found the results were inconsistent.
The organization had access to a DEXA through a partnership with a local university. But to send players outside the facility, even just a few miles up the road, was difficult. When the team wasn’t traveling, the team was trying to accomplish a lot in the limited time available in the facility. The players had practice, film sessions, conditioning, etc. Although body composition testing was important, the time it was taking to test was taking away valuable time that could be put into other more productive activities. To get all 20 players tested with a 10-minute DEXA scan outside the facility was almost impossible to perform on a regular basis.
The idea of bringing a DEXA scanner in house was a logistical nightmare of its own.
What Fitzgerald needed was an in-house tool that was fast and convenient like calipers that also provided the accuracy and consistency of a DEXA.
“We use a lot of technology in Anaheim, and I’m careful with what technology we do bring in because I want it to be valuable. I want it to be something I can use for a long time because the value of all this testing data is to do it consecutively and to do it over a term and that’s where the value of what we’re trying to do here is seen.”
After reviewing and comparing other body composition devices on the market, Fitzgerald found what he needed in the InBody.
InBody results on par with more expensive methods
Fitzgerald was familiar with the other BIA devices on the market, but what separated InBody was who was also using the device.
“From day one, InBody did not have to sell me on it. It’s always been, “Here’s what we do. Here’s who’s using us. Talk to any of the teams that are using it. Talk to them and see what they say. To me that’s huge.”
Over 30 teams from the NHL, NBA, NFL, and MLBwere already using InBody as well as the top names in strength and conditioning.
Todd Durkin, two-time Fitness Trainer of the Year and a personal colleague, was receiving exceptional results from using it at his facility. His satisfaction with InBody convinced Fitzgerald to give it a try.
Fitzgerald tested the InBody on himself once a week, same time everyday, in the same fasted state to check consistency.
After only two tests, he began seeing consistency in the testing results. A few more tests later, Fitzgerald began realizing the multitude of applications he could use with the outputs from the InBody. The more Fitzgerald tested, the more satisfied he became with the InBody. Next, he took the results to the Ducks’ university partner.
What the university told him blew him away.
“The university that we work with was able to validate, in some studies that they did, that it’s a valuable tool. When the university compared it to some of the other more expensive methods, the Bod Pod and the DEXA, they said it was right along with them.”
After trusted recommendations, self experimentation, and validation from a top university, InBody became an easy choice.
Getting viable information in under 1 minute
The ease of testing and the quality of information of the InBody 770 became a game changer. In 60 seconds, the InBody 770 gave Fitzgerald and his team accurate measurements of fat mass, skeletal muscle mass, and body water in each segment of the body.
Fitzgerald is now able to test his players on a regular basis in-house and collect vital data to tailor his training for his players needs.
All of the outputs from the InBody Test are provided on the InBody result sheet, which Fitzgerald uses to open dialogue with athletes on areas to focus on. At the highest level of professionals sports, open dialogue between coach and athlete is paramount. Professional athletes want to understand what they are doing. For Fitzgerald, the result sheet is essential in the education process. The InBody provides outputs that Fitzgerald can tie to his diet plans and workout plans.
Two areas of focuses are on nutrition and conditioning. His goal for all his players is to maintain a balanced, strong body so that they can stay on the ice.
Fitzgerald uses lean body mass to set targets for each of his players to maintain during the season. As the number increases or decreases, he can relate it back to what they are doing for nutrition.
“If you eat more higher sources of protein, it’s going to keep lean muscle mass on, you’re not as susceptible to soft tissue injuries and you keep that lean muscle. When one leads to the next and they’re intermingled, it brings more relevance to what I’m saying. It’s full circle.”
This helps reinforces the importance of diet and supplementation.
Fitzgerald uses the Segmental Lean Analysis section on the InBody result sheet as a guide to help the athlete better understand their body. Most hockey players are asymmetrical because they usually shoot a hockey puck off their dominant leg, working one side of the body significantly more than the other. A hockey player might not feel like they are physically unbalanced, especially if they are performing well. But an asymmetrical body can be vulnerable to injuries.
“Looking at the segmental analysis you’re able to tell them that’s why that happens. That single leg and single arm work I have you do – that’s why I have you do that work. We want to be able to balance those two things out. It’s never going to be perfectly balanced but we try to keep them a little more balanced than they are. Again, it opens the door for conversations.”
The InBody result sheet makes that easy to understand.
Correlation InBody outputs to athlete’s performance
Fitzgerald feels his value is in taking all the data, make sense of it for the players, and creating personalized plans. At the Duck’s training facility, they can take an athlete’s force plate number and see an athlete’s force production during a workout. He can then take the outputs of the InBody 770 provides to make correlations.
If an athlete has increased their force production by 5% over the last four weeks, Fitzgerald can compare those results to the InBody output. The InBody can show that after the addition of quality protein in the diet lean body mass increased. Or the addition of a single leg workout routine has lead to better balance between the right and left leg.
Fitzgerald can show his players with data that their efforts in nutrition and conditioning has directly lead to an increase in performance. That creates understanding for the players and validation for him and his programs.
“If you can find a way to help the athlete make sense of why they’re doing what they’re doing and how it benefits them, you’re ahead of the game. InBody allows me another tool to do that. It helps that [the Result Sheet is] tangible and it’s something they can hold onto.”
Using the InBody result sheet to create that connection between nutrition, training and improvements has led to buy-in from the players. Since implementing the InBody as a component of the program, the Anaheim Ducks have seen a reduction in injuries compared to years prior.
Athletes seeing the difference themselves
When Fitzgerald entered the franchise, his goal was to improve player health by creating a program that would encompass player strength and conditioning, nutrition, and rest. With the InBody, not only was Fitzgerald able to test his players quickly and accurately, but he also was able to use the InBody result sheet to create buy-in from his players.
“With the InBody print out, it open dialogue with the athlete, “Hey, what does this mean? Am I trending in the right way? How can I improve?” When you open those conversations with your athletes, that’s why I’m here. That’s why you coach.”
After adding InBody to his program, Fitzgerald has been able to take everything he is doing and bring it full circle. Players understand better why Fitzgerald has them train and eat a certain way because the InBody result sheet provides them objective proof. They buy in and are more committed to the program. After committing fully to the program, the players feel stronger, perform better, and stay on the ice.
“How many guys on our team played every game? I think we had quite a few compared to the last few years. How many guys that had injury issues in the past don’t have them anymore? We’ve made an intervention and changed what they’re doing and guys are happy to be in here every morning and happy to be part of what we’re doing.”
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Todd Durkin is an internationally recognized strength, speed and conditioning coach, personal trainer, motivational speaker and author who inspires and educates people worldwide. Durkin has won Personal Trainer of the Year (IDEA and ACE) twice and has been listed as “Top 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness” (Greatist) four times.
He owns Fitness Quest 10 in San Diego, which has ranked as one of “America’s Top 10 Gyms” by Men’s Health five times. Fitness Quest 10 provides personal training, therapeutic massages, Pilates, nutrition and, more to people of all ages, shapes, and sizes. His clientele includes everyone from elite professional athletes to people who want to improve their health.
The Foundation of Fitness Quest 10
Fitness Quest 10 is the culmination of Todd Durkin’s professional and personal experiences. After a serious back injury, Durkin spent the next five years focused on healing his back without surgery. He learned to combine the latest innovations in sports science with holistic techniques. Today, that knowledge and focus is applied at Fitness Quest 10, recognized as one of the leading facilities in fitness.
“Regardless if it’s a guy I’ve been working with for years, a NFL quarterback or the lightweight champion of the world, we want to make sure we offer them the best service in training and technology around to monitor their progress.”
A major reason behind Durkin’s success was his never-ending commitment toward serving his clients. As part of that commitment, Durkin never hesitated to travel to learn the latest training techniques or invest in new fitness equipment because his passion was always to help his clients reach their goals. However, all of that energy and commitment was almost wasted because, for years, he didn’t have a method to measure his clients progress accurately.
For the past sixteen years, Fitness Quest 10 relied on calipers to measure their client’s body fat composition. Each client worked with two or three different trainers, and results would differ based on who was testing. One tester might measure 17 percent body fat while another might test 23 percent body fat. The inconsistency was frustrating for trainers and clients because no one could tell objectively if progress was made.
To control consistency, the number of testers were limited to the most experienced trainers. This meant limited testing opportunities for clients. Some clients were going six months or longer without getting tested. Without the data, Durkin and his team had no objective way of knowing how effective their training methods were. Durkin tried many different solutions. Hydrostatic weighing provided accurate results but created its own problems. First, many clients were unwilling to strip down into a swimsuit and get into a tank of water in order to get tested. Second, because of the size of the tank, it would be difficult to provide hydrostatic weighing as a service at the facility.
After 16 years, many other trainers would have given up and accepted this problem as unsolvable. But for Durkin, he had to solve this issue if he wanted to achieve his dream of providing the best possible fitness experience.
“In the training world, it’s not about us. It’s about the member and how can you create an experience for them that’s going to be world class, that’s going to be superior, that’s going to be the Ritz Carlton or Nordstrom’s and deliver that experience where they say ‘Wow, this is incredible!’.”
Whenever Durkin faces a question or a challenge that he doesn’t have an answer for, he turns to his mastermind network for help. A mastermind is a network of top professionals that collaborate together to improve their craft. And he found that many members of his network were already using InBody to measure their clients’ body compositions. Durkin was initially skeptical of Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA), the technology InBody is based on. Durkin had experience with BIA handheld devices and he found those results inaccurate. But at the urging of his mastermind network, he investigated further and he became a believer.
A Solution Trusted By Professionals
Durkin felt that he may have finally found a viable solution when he saw the caliber of organizations that trusted InBody.
“If there are professional sport teams and universities using [InBody], why shouldn’t leading training facilities be using it as well? As trainers and fit pros look for solutions, you want to look for solutions that are going to give you an ROI and keep your client and members happy. I believe InBody is an incredible solution.”
After Durkin brought in the InBody, he quickly saw the potential. Anyone could use the device with ease, whether it be a front desk person or trainer, and be able to test thousands of clients consistently and accurately. And the InBody result sheet printout provided his clients with a wealth of information that they could take home and study on their own time.
Countless people have raved about the helpfulness of the InBody Result Sheet. After finishing a program, people could get their result sheets laminated, bring it home, and show it off to their families. Durkin found that an astounding 90% of people want to get retested. Now instead of having to remind people to come back for a follow-up test, people are scheduling themselves to get tested. Now he and his trainers have the data to better serve their clients. As Durkin likes to say “What gets measured, gets done”.
Tailoring Client Progress With Accurate Data
Initially, the focus was to figure out how to measure body fat composition accurately and consistently. Durkin found the InBody 570 provided those outputs as well as so much more.
Fitness Quest 10’s trainers use the InBody Result Sheet as an educational tool to teach their clients about how the programs were affecting their bodies. Most clients would only focus on weight loss. With the Segmental Lean Analysis section on the result sheets, clients were now able to see and understand the importance of muscle.
Pounds of lean muscle in each segment is shown along with the ability of the segment to support the body’s weight. The segments can then be compared to each other to determine proportionately and to a recommended range as a guide for training.
Clients were also able to learn about something they’ve never thought about before: visceral fat. Everyone knows about subcutaneous fat, the fat that appears right under the skin. But most people don’t know about visceral fat, the fat around the organs. Dangerous health complications are associated with excess visceral fat– and it can’t be measured with calipers. Through his InBody 570, Durkin is able to show how his fitness programs are helping clients lose both visceral and subcutaneous fat to positively impacting their well-being.
The InBody Result sheet measures visceral fat on a scale of 1-20. High visceral fat increases risk for anxiety, cancer, stroke, heart attacks, and other life-risking diseases.
Another important output that clients of Fitness Quest 10 found useful was Basal Metabolic Rate. With BMR, trainers are able to effectively address nutrition for each individual client. Trainers could also use BMR in combination with Fitness Quest 10’s heart tracking technology to a set specific caloric intake target tailored for each individual. So if a client was looking to decrease fat mass, a caloric intake would be set below the BMR plus the addition of calories burned through a workout.
Durkin found that InBody took the guesswork out of creating nutritional plans and exercise recommendations for each of his clients. He could show exactly how his clients were progressing with tangible data.
Investing in His Business
As a responsible business owner, Durkin always asks himself “Is it an expense or is it an investment?” when he brings new technology to his gym.
He found that 90% of his revenue came from existing members and 10% came from client acquisition. And InBody helped generate more revenue from both channels.
The informative outputs from the InBody 570 results sheets encourage his current clients and keep them coming back by showing their progress through numbers they can track. New clients are attracted to Fitness Quest 10 because the InBody allows the facility to offer a unique service.
Integrating the InBody to Boost ROI
InBody has proved to be a valuable recruitment and retention tool. Durkin offers InBody testing as part of the “feeder programs” he runs outside the facility. “Feeder programs” are boot camp style workouts with nutritional support that run for a four-week cycle. By testing before and after the program, new clients can see the immediate impact of their training on their InBody Result Sheets. The Result Sheet has become a great introduction to Fitness Quest 10 and its services.
Durkin has folded the InBody into part of his membership program. Durkin sells membership packages that offer up to four test a year. Anyone that wants personal training services will get the ability to test every 90 days to check their progress in a consistent manner. When people want to test more frequently, they can pay an additional fee to get a test. Because so many people want to test as often as possible, InBody has become a new revenue stream for his facility.
Today, Fitness Quest 10 can now offer a complete and accurate assessment that tests body composition, functional movement, and fitness for each member– which in turn, proves objectively that his services are improving his client’s well-being.
Fitness Quest 10’s Pursuit for Success
For Durkin, InBody has not only been able to solve a 16-year-old challenge, but he has been able to completely revamp his business with this new device. Clients are now educated on visceral fat and nutrition with objective numbers. And by providing InBody tests as a service, Fitness Quest 10 now has a new and continuous revenue stream.
Durkins says that not only is InBody a gold standard for measuring body composition, but InBody is an investment that will help your facility stand out.
“I believe the best and the strongest will survive. When you’re in the fitness industry, you’ve got to offer your clients the best unless you’re looking for a cheap solution. Then you’re going to compete on price. That’s the wrong game to be playing. You want to make sure you can distinguish yourself and do things that are different in your community. What’s going to make you different is assessment. For [Fitness Q10], InBody is one of the best ways that we’re using now to leverage technology and innovation .”
As Durkin says, “I want to surround myself with people that are world class and companies that are world class and that’s why I’m excited to have InBody represented here at Fitness Quest 10.”
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OPEX’s culture of challenging the status quo in fitness began with founder James Fitzgerald. He began his career in clinical research and has written studies on muscle fatigue published in Physiology Canada, The Canadian Journal of Applied Physiology, and the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. In 1999, he started applying his research to the real world when he began coaching fitness. Fitzgerald gained the attention of the fitness world when he won the inaugural 2007 CrossFit Games by applying his research knowledge to training. Seven years later, he opened the OPEX Fitness facility, now one of the leaders in coaching education and functional athlete training in the world. Today, OPEX Fitness has certified 1900 coaches worldwide and produced 75 Crossfit Games competitors and one Crossfit Games champion.
Fitzgerald applies the same standards of integrity and accountability that are expected in academic research to his coaching. When he looked for a valid method for measuring body composition at OPEX Fitness, he studied what devices were used in the fields of medicine and research. After exploring all possible options, Fitzgerald decided on InBody, a DSM-BIA device used by doctors and researchers in leading facilities around the world.
Fighting Fake Science
Today we find that many fitness professionals are too focused on creating marketable fitness programs that sell instead of focusing on the individual needs of their clients. That means designing “new”, “innovative”, “one-size-fits-all” programs that all promise more dramatic results in less time. There is a competition to be the best solution with the fastest results, but many of these programs provide little to no data to back their claims.
“Marketing is now stronger than education, so the truth in science has been questioned. It’s not uncommon to see fake news — or fake science — being plastered everywhere.The consumer now has no idea what is [true] in fitness.”
Fitzgerald saw a need for a fitness program backed by research that would be able to show real progress through valid measurements. If he could show his clients the real changes that were happening beneath the surface, he would create buy-in and keep clients coming back. This inspired him to create a system that could track this progress, which he named OPEX Body: a comprehensive individual assessment process. It factors in an individual’s physiological profile and fitness ability to create a biological marker, a starting point for their fitness journey.
“This is what your marker presented today. Based upon your goals and what you want to do, here’s the plan that’s going to lay out how to get you there, and we’re going to use this marker to continue to measure that over time.”
The marker helps coaches identify client’s strengths and weaknesses and prescribe a tailored fitness program based on the client’s flexibility, strength, and endurance. Together, client and coach can see the improvements in body composition and vital signs. And together, they can make adjustments to ensure there is a continual progression toward their goals.
The Commitment to the Truth
The OPEX assessment process was refined over 25 years of trial and error. At the beginning of his career, Fitzgerald was trained to measure body fat composition through multiple hand-caliper devices to create a fat score. One client would get six or seven different versions of a body composition score. He felt he was not actually measuring the client, but he was actually choosing a score to fit the client. However, calipers remained an industry standard because they were cheap and easy to use.
Fed up, he realized that all the positives of calipers were overshadowed by its negatives. He had the ability to create a perfectly tailored training program to get someone to their goal. However, if his measurements were wrong, his entire program would be based on a faulty assessment and not on the client’s individual needs.
Fitzgerald decided he needed to upgrade his tools and started studying what medical professionals and researchers were using for body composition: DEXA, Bod-Pods, underwater weighing and bioelectrical impedance.
“Going from calipers to any of those [devices] wasn’t as economical. But I want the truth. So I’ll do whatever it takes to get the truth”.
During his search, he came across InBody at his doctor’s office. His doctors were using InBody to assess patients to determine their baseline. They would then use this baseline as a guide to improve patients’ function, rehabilitate them, and increase their longevity. He immediately saw the value that the InBody provided. Here was a medical-grade device that could provide an accurate, in-depth analysis of an individual’s body composition. The results were an actual measurement of the individual, not an estimate or calculation based on age and gender.
Intrigued, Fitzgerald wanted to test the InBody against other body composition devices.
InBody: The Uncheatable Device
He took different types of body composition devices- BodPod, different kinds of caliper devices, DEXA, underwater weighing, DSM-BIA – and put them all against one another. The goal was to compare InBody’s accuracy to other gold-standard devices and understand the differences between the measurements. Fitzgerald even invited representatives from each body composition company to OPEX Fitness to demonstrate their devices themselves to ensure he was following the testing protocol perfectly. Then he changed the variables to see if InBody was really too good to be true.
“InBody became the number one answer because we tried to break the system, we tried to cheat the system, and there was no way we could cheat it: it still gave us the truth in what it was scoring no matter how hard we tried.”
Fitzgerald specifically went against testing guidelines to see how each device would respond. He tested people both pre and post workouts, wanting to see a change in the structure of water. In other devices, he was unable to see the real changes that the body undergoes after a workout. However, the InBody was able to clearly show the body water differences in the athletes, making it the clear winner against all the other devices.
“Nothing beat the InBody for repeatability and the validity of what we’re trying to get with what we want, which is the truth in numbers to give us indications as to how the fitness program is doing.”
Deeper Insights with the InBody Result Sheet
Today, OPEX has fully integrated InBody into its methodologies, whether they are training high-level athletes or regular Janes and Joes. All OPEX clients use the InBody as part of their initial and continuing assessment process. Fat and lean body mass measurements that the InBody provides are points of emphasis because they help tie in all of the services that OPEX Fitness provides.
For example, a client’s lean body mass measurement is not only used to guide training programming but for nutritional planning as well. The InBody Result Sheet shows the level of lean mass in each segment of the body, if that segment is adequately developed, and how balanced each segment is to one another. An OPEX Fitness coach will then create training programs based on the specific needs of that client.
From there, the coach can explain how their lean body mass level will affect their metabolism, or basal metabolic rate, which is a building block for a nutritional plan. Because the InBody Result Sheet provides a baseline of how many calories the client’s body burns naturally per day, it is easy for coaches to give an exact number of the macronutrients that are required to fuel lean body mass gain while still losing fat mass.
Finally, OPEX coaches can make the connection to overall health as the lean mass increases and fat mass decreases. The InBody visceral fat measurement shows if a person’s visceral fat falls within the healthy range. By decreasing visceral fat, coaches are helping their clients lower their risk for health complications in the future like heart diseases and diabetes. This data helps make the connection between how physical health relates to overall health for the client and instantly creates more credibility and value for OPEX Fitness.
InBody body composition testing has also allowed Fitzgerald to upgrade the coaching for OPEX’s sponsored Crossfit athletes. They are able to combine the outputs of the InBody with other tools at their facility to gain new insights. One insight they have gained was found by comparing Forced Expiratory Volume to InBody’s lean body mass measurement.
Forced Expiratory Volume (FEV) is an indirect measurement of lung capacity. By comparing the lean body mass measurement with the total amount of air exhaled, OPEX coaches can examine the oxygen exchange capability. In layman terms, this is a look at an athlete’s endurance. It is no longer a mystery why two similar level athletes on comparable training programs don’t have the same level of output. By examining the oxygen exchange capability, OPEX coaches can see that these two similar athletes may have comparable levels of lean body mass but a large difference in lung capacities. The InBody gives a precise lean mass measurement to enable OPEX coaches to say: “you have a lot of muscle, but you don’t the oxygen exchange capability to support that muscle, we really need to improve that exchange”. Adjusting the training to improve exchange will increase output and that is tremendously important in a sport like Crossfit.That insight has helped OPEX coaches to improve their team’s performance.
OPEX and InBody are Leading the Future of Fitness
Although Fitzgerald doesn’t like the state of fitness today, he is encouraged by the direction it’s heading toward. The general public is beginning to realize the importance of measurements when it comes to setting and achieving health goals. People will want an individualized score that is truly representative of their body, and the technology to provide these scores is becoming increasingly accessible and accurate. Fitness instructors will need to learn how to interpret those scores and make appropriate programs based on where the individual is at in terms of their health.
“With the future of biotech and the interest level in that, my belief is that companies like InBody will hold the key for the connection between the best prescriptions possible to help people to live large and long and prosper. InBody has a big part to play in the future and OPEX will be right alongside InBody doing that.”
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Editor’s Note: This post was updated on October 5, 2018, for accuracy and comprehensiveness. It was originally published on February 10, 2016
You probably don’t think about your body composition when you’re thinking about your metabolism. But you should.
You probably think about it in terms of speed: “My metabolism is fast” or “my metabolism is slowing down.” If that sounds like you, you’re not alone: simply googling the word “metabolism” yields 4 articles in the top 10 all based around boosting/increasing your metabolism for weight loss.
People are naturally afraid of their metabolism slowing and the weight gain they know comes with it. To some extent, those worries are well-founded.
Metabolism is linked with weight gain and loss because of its a biological process involved with energy and calories.
…the process by which your body converts what you eat and drink into energy. During this complex biochemical process, calories in food and beverages are combined with oxygen to release the energy your body needs to function.
Notice how it doesn’t mention anything about the speed you process your food. That would be digestion.
In medical terminology, metabolism is known as your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), which is the minimum number of calories your body needs to perform basic bodily functions. BMR is usually expressed in terms of calories. Your Basal Metabolic Rate also has another interesting quality: the more Lean Body Mass (which includes muscle, water, and minerals) you have, the greater your BMR will be.
When we talk about metabolism, we should always start the conversation with how many calories your body needs. But because your BMR and Lean Body Mass are linked, that means any conversation about metabolism becomes a conversation about your body composition.
Your Body Composition Is Linked To Your Metabolism
Why is it that some people seem to be able to eat whatever they want and never experience any weight gain, while other people – even skinny people – feel like whenever they have one bite of dessert it instantly goes to their waistline?
The reason is that metabolism can vary in size.
Take a look at these two body composition profiles, and see if you can spot the difference.
Beyond the obvious differences in weight, the Person A has a much smaller Basal Metabolic Rate than the second. This means Person B needs more calories than Person A in order to provide their body with the necessary energy to function without losing weight. Because the BMR is bigger, the metabolism is “bigger.”
Greater than height and gender, the most important factor playing into BMR is the amount Lean Body Mass each person has. That’s because, as research in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition states, the more Lean Body Mass you have, the greater your Basal Metabolic Rate will be. That is why strength training for muscle gain, which in turn will increase your lean body mass, is recommended as a way to increase your metabolism.
This is why people who are big or above average in weight can eat more than people who are smaller. Their body literally requires them to eat more to maintain their weight, and specifically – their Lean Body Mass.
OK, you say, but these two people are very different in body weight – of course, the second person will have a bigger metabolism. Take a look at the two people below, who we’ll call “Jane” and “Sarah”, two individuals who are similar body in age, height, weight, and gender.
Despite being similar in age, height, weight, and gender, these two people have very different body composition profiles. As a result, they have different Basal Metabolic Rates. Although Jane has a body weight within the normal range (identified by being near the 100% mark), her body composition is defined by having more fat mass and less lean body mass and skeletal muscle than Sarah.
The person below has a lower body fat percentage and more Lean Body Mass – which is why when looking at this person, you’d describe them as “lean.” Again, because this person has more than 10 pounds more Lean Body Mass, her Basal Metabolic Rate comes out over a hundred calories greater than the person above.
Metabolism and Weight Gain Over Time
Image Source: Flickr
Let’s take a deeper look at what you might call a “slow” metabolism. Far from being an issue of fastness or slowness, weight gain is almost always the result of a caloric imbalance that goes unchecked over a long period of time.
But first, something needs to be clarified – your Basal Metabolic Rate is not the only factor that plays into your overall caloric needs, and it’s not the total amount of calories you need in a day. There are two other major influencers, which are:
Your energy level – how active you are
The thermic effect of food – the energy your body uses to digest your food
These taken together with your Basal Metabolic Rate provide your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE). This is the number of calories your body burns in a day.
BMR is a necessary piece of information to estimate TDEE. Although they’re not exact, equations exist for estimating your TDEE based on your activity level and BMR. These are based on multiplying your BMR with an “activity factor” – a number between 1 and 2 – that increases the more active you are (and decreases when you are less active, regardless of your appetite).
To take a closer look into metabolism and weight gain, let’s take the two people whose body compositions we’ve looked at above, Jane and Sarah, and see what could happen in a real world example and accounting for diet and exercise.
For this exercise, we first need to estimate TDEE for Jane and Sarah, using their BMRs as a guide. Based on Jane and Sarah’s compositions, it would be fair to assume that Jane does less exercise/is less active than Sarah, so we’ll assign an activity level of “Sedentary” for Jane and assign “Lightly Active” for Sarah.
Using these numbers and multiplying it by the appropriate activity factor, we can estimate Jane’s TDEE to be 1573 calories and Sarah’s to be 1953 calories, a difference of 380 calories.
Notice how although the difference in BMR was a little over 100 calories when activity levels are factored in, the difference in actual caloric needs becomes magnified.
Now that we have an estimate of the calories Jane and Sarah will need/burn in a day, let’s give them calories to take in. Let’s put them both on a diet of 1,800 calories a day – the estimated caloric intake suggested by the USDA for sedentary women between the ages of 26-30.
Assuming that Jane and Sarah both follow the 1,800 calorie diet perfectly without any extra, high caloric snacks or treats, Jane would end each day with a calorie surplus of 227 calories/day. Sarah would end each day in a slight calorie deficit of 153 calories a day.
When you are in a caloric surplus – taking in more calories than you use – and live a mostly sedentary lifestyle, you will experience weight gain, specifically, fat. An extra 227 calories a day might not seem like a lot at first – that’s about a single soda -, but over time, a surplus of 227 calories a day becomes 1589 extra calories a week and a surplus of 7037 extra calorie a month: roughly 2 pounds of fat gain per month.
Bottom line: despite being the same height, same gender, similar weight, and similar ages, because of the difference between Jane and Sarah’s body compositions, Jane will experience weight gain over time while Sarah might experience some weight loss (because of her calorie deficit), even though their diets are the same. That’s because the differences in their caloric needs, although seemingly small at first, increase to significant differences when allowed to persist over time.
It’s not about their age or anything else; it’s about their body compositions determining their metabolism/caloric needs.
Making Your Metabolism Work For You
Because your metabolism isn’t something that slows down or speeds up depending on things like age, this actually gives you some control over it. With the correct exercise and dietary plan, you can make your metabolism work for you
Improve and increase your metabolism
It all goes back to improving and maintaining a healthy body composition.
Because your body needs more energy to support itself when it has more Lean Body Mass, working to increase your Lean Body Mass can actually increase your Basal Metabolic Rate, which can have a huge impact on your TDEE once you factor in your activity level.
Avoid a decrease in your metabolism
For many people, simply maintaining their metabolism or avoiding a “slowdown” (which as we’ve seen, is a myth right up there with muscle turning into fat) is an important goal.
How can you avoid a decrease of your metabolism?
In short: by maintaining the Lean Body Mass that you already have. That means maintaining your Skeletal Muscle Mass.
Your Skeletal Muscle Mass isn’t the same as your Lean Body Mass, but it is the overall biggest contributor to it. It’s the muscle that you can actually grow and develop through exercise, and increases/decreases in SMM have a strong influence on increases/decreases in Lean Body Mass.
Skeletal Muscle Mass is best developed through strength training and resistance exercise along with a proper diet. A regular exercise plan that includes strength training and resistance exercise will help you maintain your Skeletal Muscle Mass.
This can be especially important as you age. As people become older and busier, activity levels tend to drop and a proper diet can become harder to maintain as responsibilities increase. Poor diet and nutrition can lead to loss of Lean Body Mass over time, which leads to a decrease in overall metabolism – not a slowdown.
Balance your diet and with your metabolism
The example of Jane is a good example of a well-intentioned dietary plan that doesn’t match the metabolism of the person practicing it.
Even though Jane has been led to believe that 1,800 calories is right for her based on age and gender, her metabolism doesn’t require that caloric intake, and she will end up gaining weight despite her efforts to eat a healthy diet. In the end, she will probably end up blaming her “slowing metabolism.”
It’s examples like Jane’s that show how important understanding the link between metabolism and body composition is.
How much Lean Body Mass do you have? What might your Basal Metabolic Rate be? These questions should be answered first before starting any weight loss or diet program, as well as conversations about metabolism.
The first step is always to get the information you need to get the answers to these questions by getting your body composition accurately tested. Your metabolism and your body composition are strongly linked, so in order to truly understand your metabolism and weight, you must get your body composition tested.
Editörün Notu: Bu gönderi, doğruluk ve anlaşılırlık için 30 Temmuz 2020’de güncellenmiştir. İlk olarak 22 Temmuz 2015’te yayınlanmıştır.
Viseral yağı duymuş ya da duymamış olabilirsiniz, ancak bu kesinlikle bilmeniz gereken bir tabirdir.
Peki viseral yağ tam olarak nedir? Ve neden dikkat edilmesi gereken bir konudur?
Bu soruları ele almak için öncelikle, Beden Kütle İndeksi’ nin (BKİ) viseral yağın potansiyel sağlık etkilerini maskelemedeki rolünü inceleyelim.
BKI Nasıl Yanıltıcı Olabilir?
Diyelim ki, yeni işinize başladığınızdan beri biraz kilo almış bir ofis çalışanısınız ve vücut ağırlığınızı ölçmek istiyorsunuz. Çoğu kişi gibi, bir kişinin kilolu veya obez olarak kabul edilip edilmediğini belirlemek için doktorlar, sigorta şirketleri ve diğer herkes tarafından yaygın olarak kullanılan Beden Kitle İndeksi’ ni (BKİ) kullanacaksınız.
İşte bununla ilgili Dünya Sağlık Örgütü’nden bir alıntı:
BKİ, her iki cinsiyet ve her yaştan yetişkin için aynı olduğundan, kilolu ve obez nüfus düzeyinde en yararlı ölçümü sağlamaktadır. Ancak farklı vücut yapısındaki bireylerde aynı vücut yağ yüzdesine karşılık gelmeyeceğinden, kaba bir rehber olarak değerlendirilmelidir.
Bu açık mesaja rağmen, birçok doktor ve sıradan insanlar, BKİ’yi sadece sağladığı rahatlıktan dolayı bir teşhis aracı olarak kullanmaya devam etmektedir.
Viseral Yağ Alanı, karın bölgesindeki iç organları çevreleyen tahmini yağ miktarına dayanmaktadır. Optimal sağlık için 100 cm²’nin altında bir Viseral Yağ Alanına sahip olmanız önerilmektedir.
Çoğu kişinin (ve medyanın) odaklandığı durum, önerilen vücut yağ yüzdesinin yüksek olması iken bireyin yüksek viseral yağ oranına sahip olması aslında daha kötü bir durumdur. Bunun nedeni, viseral yağın karın boşluğunuzun içinde yaşayan başka bir organ gibi hareket etmesidir.
Viseral Yağ: Nedir ve Neden Önemlidir?
Viseral yağ, karın bölgesinde bulunan ve iç organlarınızı çevreleyen özel bir yağ türüdür. Yüzeydeki (deri altı) yağın aksine, birinin iç organları çevresinde ne kadar yağ olduğunu sadece bakarak ölçmek kolay değildir.
Ağırlığı değerlendirmek için birincil aracınız olarak BKİ’ye güvenirseniz, önemli miktarda viseral yağınız olabilir ve bunun farkında olmayabilirsiniz.
Herkes bir miktar viseral yağa sahiptir, ancak bunun fazlası ciddi sağlık sorunları riskini artırmaktadır. Doğduğunuzdan beri sahip olduğunuz yaşamı sürdüren organların aksine viseral yağ, bu organları sabote etmek ve bedensel işlevlerini bozmak için içten dışa aktif olarak çalışmaktadır.
Harvard Üniversitesi‘ne göre, viseral yağ çeşitli hormon ve kimyasallar salgılamaktadır. Viseral yağın ürettiği bu kimyasalların bir tipine sitokinler denir. Sitokinler insan vücudunda önemli bir rol oynar, ancak aşırı viseral yağ nedeniyle artan sitokin seviyeleri sorun yaratabilmektedir.
Sitokinler karaciğere girdikten sonra, yüksek kolesterol ve insülin direnci ile bağlantılı olan kan lipidlerinin üretimini etkiler ve çok ciddi bir sağlık riski olan tip 2 diyabete yol açma potansiyeli bulunmaktadır.
Tip 2 diyabet tipik olarak kilolu veya obez olan kişilerle ilişkilidir ve BKİ’si normal aralığın (18,5-24,9) üzerinde olan kişilerin önemli ölçüde daha fazla sağlık riskleriyle karşı karşıya olduğu söylenmektedir. Bununla birlikte, BKİ, 24.99 noktasına yakın veya biraz üzerinde olan kişileri yanlış temsil edebilir.
Yaşam tarzı faktörlerine bağlı olarak, birçok insan, önceki örneğimizde olduğu gibi büyük miktarda abdominal viseral yağ içeren bir vücut profiline sahiptir: ancak çok fazla iskelet kası kütlesine sahip olmadıkları için “normal” aralıkta BKİ değerleri bulunabilmektedir. Hareketsiz yaşam tarzına yönelik eğilim nedeniyle, fazla viseral yağa sahip olma durumu giderek daha yaygın hale gelmektedir.
Hareketsiz yaşam tarzına sahip insanlar için bu sağlıksız alışkanlıklardan birkaçını benimsemek oldukça kolaydır. Zamanla, bu alışkanlıklar viseral yağ da dahil olmak üzere vücut yağının artmasına neden olacaktır.
Viseral Yağ Nasıl Ölçülür?
Fazla miktarda viseral yağınız olup olmadığını nasıl anlarsınız?
İşte üç seçenek:
1. Bel Ölçümü
Mayo Clinic‘e göre, mezura kullanarak belinizi ölçmek, viseral yağ içeriğinizi tahmin etmenin oldukça iyi bir yoludur. Beliniz; kadınlar için 35 inçten veya erkekler için 40 inçten fazlaysa, fazla viseral yağa sahip olabilirsiniz.
2. Dual Energy X-ray Absorbsiyometri (DEXA) Taraması
Viseral yağ birikim miktarını belirlemenin en kesin yöntemlerinden biri DEXA testi yaptırmaktır. Ancak bunu yapan bir tesise erişim gerekmekte ve testler de yüksek mali olabilmektedir.
3. Profesyonel Biyoelektrik Empedans Analizi (BİA)
Tıbbi bir BİA ölçümü, DEXA’ ya harika bir alternatif olabilmektedir. Bu testler, viseral yağ ile birlikte tüm vücut yağ yüzdenizi belirlemek amacıyla tüm vücutta dolaşan bir elektrik akımı ile direnci ölçmektedir.
Doğrudan segmental ölçümler yapan gelişmiş BİA cihazları, viseral yağ içeriğini de gösterebilmektedir, ancak kullandığınız cihazın bu özelliğe sahip olduğundan emin olmanız gerekmektedir.
Vücut kompozisyonunuzu bilmek, viseral yağ miktarınız hakkında size BKİ’nin verebileceğinden çok daha doğru bir fikir verecektir.
Kilonuz ve/veya BKİ’niz “normal” kabul ediliyor, ancak vücut kompozisyon testiniz vücut yağ yüzdenizin yüksek ve kas kütlenizin düşük olduğunu gösteriyorsa (cılız obez insanlarda olduğu gibi), viseral yağ oranını ve gelecekte kalp hastalığı gibi ciddi sağlık sorunları riskini azaltmak için yaşam tarzınızda bazı değişiklikler yapmayı düşünebilirsiniz.
Vücut kompozisyon testiniz BMH’ nızı ölçebiliyorsa, kilo verme stratejinizin bir parçası olarak, günlük kalori ihtiyaçlarınızı belirlemeye yardımcı olması için bunu kullanabilirsiniz. Unutmayın, viseral yağdan kurtulmaya başlamadan önce doktorunuzdan da tıbbi tavsiye almanız önemlidir.
Viseral Yağ Nasıl Verilir?
Viseral yağyakmak için HIIT (yüksek yoğunlukta interval antrenman) en iyi seçeneğinizdir.
Bir çalışma, 12 hafta boyunca 3 seans HIIT antrenman (seans başına 20 dakika) yapmanın, viseral yağı yüzde 17 oranında azalttığını göstermiştir.
Ayrıca, iki haftalık yüksek yoğunluklu aerobik antrenmanın, yağ oksidasyon kapasitesini arttırdığı gösterilmiştir. Bu da egzersiz yaptıktan saatler sonra bile metabolizmanızın geçici olarak hızlanmaya devam ettiğini göstermektedir.
Umuyoruz ki, viseral yağ ile ilgili her şey açıklığa kavuşmuştur. BKİ zayıf, kilolu veya bunların arasında bir yerde olup olmadığınızı belirleyemez- sadece sayıları verir. Aynı zamanda ne kadar viseral yağa sahip olduğunuzu da söyleyemez.
“Normal” bir kilonuz ve BKİ’ niz varsa bile, viseral yağ seviyeniz konusunda endişelenmemeniz gerektiğini düşünmeyin! Hataya düşüp “biraz kilolu olabilirim ama obez değilim, bu yüzden kilo vermem gerekmiyor” veya “Sanırım sadece iyi genlerim var, bu yüzden her zaman zayıf gözükeceğim” diye düşünmek kolaydır.
Hiç kimse, kuvvet antrenmanı gibi egzersizleri göz ardı ederken, kalorisi ve doymuş yağ oranı yüksek beslenme şekli ile tüm yaşamı boyunca sağlıklı bir miktarda viseral yağa sahip olmayı beklememelidir.
İyi haber ise, egzersiz ile, kalorilere dikkat ederek ve genel olarak sağlıklı bir yaşam tarzı sürdürerek, aşırı viseral yağa sahip olmaktan uzak kalınabilecektir.
Vücut kompozisyonu testi size her zaman BKİ’ nizin verebileceğinden çok daha fazla bilgi verir ve viseral yağınız da dahil olmak üzere kilonuzu oluşturan her şeyle ilgili çok daha iyi bir resim çıkarabilir.
Unutmayın – “ölçülen, yönetilir”, o yüzden düzenli vücut kompozisyon analizinizi yapın ve viseral yağ seviyenizi öğrenin!
<div class=”pf-content”><h6><span style=”font-weight: 400;”><i>Editor’s Note: This post </i><i>was updated on </i><i><strong>July 1, 2018</strong>, </i><i>for accuracy and comprehensiveness. It </i><i>was </i><i>originally published on October 30, 2015</i><i>.</i></span></h6> <p><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>People have all sorts of reasons for working out and developing Lean Body Mass. Athletes are interested in muscle building to improve their performance on the field. Bodybuilders want muscle growth for that trophy-winning physique. For us regular joes and janes who struggle to find enough time to diet and workout, it can be as simple as looking losing weight and looking lean. </span></p> <p><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Whatever the reasons,</span> <a href=”https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16960159″><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>recent research</span></a><span style=”font-weight: 400;”> has made a very strong case that building Lean Body Mass (LBM) has health benefits<strong> far beyond aesthetics and athletic performance</strong>. Sufficient amounts of LBM are actually critical for building a healthy life over the <strong>long-term.</strong></span></p> <p><span style=”font-weight: 400;”> This doesn’t mean that you have to work out twice a day lifting heavy weights. Male or female, young or old, everyone can benefit from increased Lean Body Mass. Here are four important health benefits that you gain from developing your Lean Body Mass.</span></p> <h2><b>1. Lean Body Mass Combats Obesity</b></h2> <p><span style=”font-weight: 400;”><img class=”alignnone size-full wp-image-3083″ src=”https://inbodyusa.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/obesity-993126_1280.jpg” alt=”” width=”1280″ height=”853″ srcset=”https://inbodyusa.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/obesity-993126_1280.jpg 1280w, https://inbodyusa.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/obesity-993126_1280-300×200.jpg 300w, https://inbodyusa.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/obesity-993126_1280-768×512.jpg 768w, https://inbodyusa.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/obesity-993126_1280-1024×682.jpg 1024w, https://inbodyusa.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/obesity-993126_1280-900×600.jpg 900w” sizes=”(max-width: 1280px) 100vw, 1280px”>In a world where more than</span><a href=”https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-statistics/overweight-obesity”><span style=”font-weight: 400;”> 2/3 of Americans have too much fat are considered overweight or obese</span></a><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>, it’s hard to avoid advertising that guarantee weight loss in X number of weeks, or a new workout technique that promises to shred fat off of your frame, or that new diet that promises to increase your metabolism and burn body fat.</span></p> <p><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>However, most of these shortcut approaches fail to address the basic issue regarding weight gain: it’s about calories in vs. calories out. According to research by Dr. Robert Wolfe (emphasis added):</span></p> <blockquote><p><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>The development of obesity results from an energy imbalance over a prolonged time. An effect on energy balance can be therefore achieved by altering either energy intake or energy expenditure. </span></p> <p><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>– AJCN: “The Underappreciated Role of Muscle in Health and Disease</span></p></blockquote> <p><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>“Energy imbalance” in this context refers to consuming more calories than your body needs. Do this for a long enough period of time, and you’ll gain fat. Gain enough fat over a long period of time, and you can become<strong> overweight or obese.</strong></span></p> <p><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>“Energy intake” refers to how many calories you consume through eating and drinking, in other words, your diet. This is what many people think of when they think about<strong> calorie reduction.</strong></span></p> <p><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>However, its “energy expenditure” where you can really make a big effect on balancing your calories in and calories out, and this is why developing your <strong>Lean Body Mass is so important.</strong></span></p> <p><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Lean Body Mass is associated with your <a href=”https://inbodyusa.com/blogs/inbodyblog/49311425-how-to-use-bmr-to-hack-your-diet/?__hstc=165164192.92f192c76e6bd4f9577729991b2d474d.1599028489575.1599028489575.1599028489575.1&__hssc=165164192.5.1599028489576&__hsfp=2972673961″><strong>Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)</strong></a> – the amount of calories you burn at rest. The greater amount of LBM you have, the greater your BMR will be. This means that people with greater amounts of Lean Body Mass will have a greater energy expenditure while doing nothing, helping to avoid calorie imbalances, and ultimately, obesity.</span></p> <h2><strong>2. Lean Body Mass Helps You Battle Disease</strong></h2> <h2><strong><img class=”alignnone size-full wp-image-3084″ src=”https://inbodyusa.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/thermometer-1539191_1280.jpg” alt=”” width=”1280″ height=”853″ srcset=”https://inbodyusa.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/thermometer-1539191_1280.jpg 1280w, https://inbodyusa.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/thermometer-1539191_1280-300×200.jpg 300w, https://inbodyusa.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/thermometer-1539191_1280-768×512.jpg 768w, https://inbodyusa.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/thermometer-1539191_1280-1024×682.jpg 1024w, https://inbodyusa.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/thermometer-1539191_1280-900×600.jpg 900w” sizes=”(max-width: 1280px) 100vw, 1280px”></strong></h2> <p><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>When you become sick and your body becomes stressed, your body’s immune system gets kicked into high gear. When that occurs, your body’s nutritional demands change. In order to support the immune system and contribute towards recovery, your body requires protein – and a lot of it. Diet alone won’t supply the amount of protein required to defend against illness. Where will your body find protein reserves? Your Lean Muscle Mass.</span></p> <p><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>For example, in burn victims, the need for increased protein can increase tremendously: around 4 g of protein per kilogram of body weight, or about</span><a href=”https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16960159″><span style=”font-weight: 400;”> four times the normal daily intake</span></a><span style=”font-weight: 400;”> of protein. Too much protein for a person to consume through a healthy diet. This demand for protein exceeds the demands put on the body during fasting (times where you aren’t bringing in calories), which is when muscle breakdown occurs. The same trend was also found in cancer survivors. In those whose overall body protein decreased due to cancer and cancer therapy, the rate of recurrence of cancer increased.</span></p> <p><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>In both cases, the ability to survive these serious conditions ultimately came down to<strong> how much Lean Muscle Mass </strong>each patient had to begin with, and how much their bodies lost due to increased demand for protein.</span></p> <p><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Bottom line: your Lean Muscle Mass can act as protein reserves that your body can draw off of when the immune system is triggered. If you have built sufficient Lean Muscle Mass through diet and workout, your body will have a much easier time fighting off infection because it will have enough protein in reserve to power the demands caused by the immune system.</span></p> <p><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>If you don’t have sufficient Lean Muscle Mass, your body will have a much more difficult time <strong>defeating and recovering from illnesses</strong> because it won’t have the type of nutrients it needs to power the immune system.</span></p> <h2><strong>3. Lean Body Mass Contributes to Strong Bones</strong></h2> <p><span style=”font-weight: 400;”><img class=”alignnone size-full wp-image-3085″ src=”https://inbodyusa.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/knee-2253047_1280.jpg” alt=”” width=”1280″ height=”960″ srcset=”https://inbodyusa.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/knee-2253047_1280.jpg 1280w, https://inbodyusa.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/knee-2253047_1280-300×225.jpg 300w, https://inbodyusa.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/knee-2253047_1280-768×576.jpg 768w, https://inbodyusa.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/knee-2253047_1280-1024×768.jpg 1024w” sizes=”(max-width: 1280px) 100vw, 1280px”>One common concern that both men and women have as they age is the onset of osteoporosis or frailty in general. These conditions can put people at serious risk in the later stages of life because they can lead to falls and broken bones. Sometimes, these falls are so serious that some people never walk again.</span></p> <p><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>What can preserve bone density and bone mass later in life? Maintaining sufficient and healthy amounts of Lean Body Mass.</span></p> <p><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>In the</span><a href=”https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15824844″><span style=”font-weight: 400;”> Mediterranean Intensive Oxidant Study</span></a><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>, researchers found that lower amounts of skeletal muscle mass, a</span><a href=”https://www.inbodyusa.com/blogs/inbodyblog/45434945-lean-body-mass-and-muscle-mass-whats-the-difference?__hstc=165164192.92f192c76e6bd4f9577729991b2d474d.1599028489575.1599028489575.1599028489575.1&__hssc=165164192.5.1599028489576&__hsfp=2972673961″><span style=”font-weight: 400;”> significant and major component</span></a><span style=”font-weight: 400;”> of Lean Body Mass, was correlated with weaker and thinner bones in elderly men. Because Lean Body Mass is made up of multiple components that cannot be readily increased, such as the weight of body water and internal organs, increasing skeletal muscle mass is the primary means of increasing Lean Body Mass. This, in turn, builds up greater bone strength and density.</span></p> <p><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>In order to protect against thin and weak bones, maintaining and developing sufficient skeletal muscle mass is key.</span></p> <h2><strong>4. Lean Body Mass Can Protect Against (and potentially reverse) Insulin Resistance</strong></h2> <p><span style=”font-weight: 400;”><img class=”alignnone size-full wp-image-2913″ src=”https://inbodyusa.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/diabetes-1724617_1920.jpg” alt=”” width=”1920″ height=”1280″>Insulin resistance occurs when the body is unable to clear the blood of excess glucose due to the presence of Fatty Free Acids. The release of Free Fatty Acids into the body is generally associated with high amounts of Fat Mass, which lessens insulin’s ability to clear glucose from the blood. If this insulin resistance becomes significant over a duration of time, the development of Type 2 diabetes can occur.</span></p> <p><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Once again, developing sufficient amounts of Lean Body Mass can help prevent the onset of insulin resistance/Type 2 diabetes. Because insulin resistance/Type 2 diabetes can strike anyone at any age, ensuring that your LBM levels are sufficient while keeping your Fat Mass low (i.e. a healthy body composition) is very important for everyone.</span></p> <p><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>In a large-scale study of over 13,000 people over a 6-year span conducted by the UCLA School of Medicine, the researchers concluded their findings by illustrating an</span><a href=”https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21778224%20″><span style=”font-weight: 400;”> inverse relationship between skeletal muscle mass and insulin resistance</span></a><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>. Not only that, they found that for every 10% increase in skeletal muscle mass, there was an 11% decrease in insulin resistance. For people without diabetes, the decreases were even more pronounced.</span></p> <p><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Developing your Lean Body Mass also has the added benefit of increasing your BMR, which will increase your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) all on its own, which, when combined with proper diet and nutrition, causes Fat Mass reduction. This reduction contributes to less release of Fatty Free Acids into the body in the first place, which will, in turn, make it easier for the body to clear excess glucose and transport it into muscle cells.</span></p> <h2><strong>Fitness for Long-Term Health</strong></h2> <p><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Muscle building isn’t something that only bodybuilders and athletes should worry about; for long-term health, everyone can benefit from building their LBM.</span></p> <p><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>For this reason, it is important to monitor the changes in your Lean Body Mass by having your body composition measured. Body composition analysis can divide your weight into its various components – Fat Mass, Lean Body Mass, etc. – which will give you a much clearer picture of your overall fitness and health.</span></p> <p><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Building Lean Body Mass is an investment in your future. The more LBM you build while you are still young and healthy, the more you will have in reserve when you really need. But before you start adding protein shakes and resistance workouts to your daily regimen, you need a plan. The first step to building a healthy level lean body mass is to measure how much you have with a body composition analysis. You can learn about the different types of BIA devices that analyze body composition and the types of outputs you can expect to receive by</span> <a href=”https://www.inbodyusa.com/blogs/inbodyblog/39971073-bia-once-flawed-not-anymore?__hstc=165164192.92f192c76e6bd4f9577729991b2d474d.1599028489575.1599028489575.1599028489575.1&__hssc=165164192.5.1599028489576&__hsfp=2972673961″><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>clicking here</span></a><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>.</span></p> </div>
A widely-known but often misunderstood disease is steadily overtaking an increasing portion of the U.S. population. In this country, more than one-third of adults are at a high risk for developing this condition and causes about 330,000 deaths each year. This disease is diabetes.
Diabetes, type 2 in particular, is a condition affecting an ever-expanding pool of Americans. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 30.3 million Americans had diabetes in 2015. That’s nearly 10 percent of the population! Furthermore, about 90 percent of those people had Type 2 Diabetes, and those numbers are only expected to rise.
The steady increase in diabetes diagnoses is due, in part, to the obesity epidemic. 87.5 percent of adults with diabetes are overweight or obese according to their Body Mass Index (BMI), a simple health indicator based on the ratio of weight to height. However, these findings make it seem like only those with high body weight are at risk for diabetes, and that is not the case. In fact, so-called “skinny fat” people, individuals with a normal or low BMI but a high percent body fat, are at an increased risk to develop diabetes or prediabetes. As you can see, the underlying theme here is that, rather than a high body weight, it is an imbalanced body composition that increases the risk of diabetes. This is why it is important for those looking to reduce diabetes risk or manage their diabetes to understand their body composition.
So what’s going on here? How does your body composition affect your diabetes risk, and can improve your body composition reduce that risk or help you overcome diabetes?
Let’s first take a look at body composition. What is it and why is it important?
What is Body Composition?
The term “body composition” means exactly what it sounds like: the components that your body is made up of. Generally speaking, these components can be simply categorized as fat and fat-free mass. As you might expect, your fat-free mass, also called Lean Body Mass (LBM) is everything in your body that isn’t fat. It includes your lean muscle, organs, blood, and minerals.
The body generally needs a balance of LBM and fat mass to function optimally and maintain positive health. However, this balance is disrupted in many overweight and obese individuals due to excess fat. Most people think that the ultimate goal for overweight individuals should be to lose weight, but this overlooks the bigger picture. In order to improve your health, get physically fit, and fit into those skinny jeans, you’re going to have to change your body composition. In other words, the goal for overweight individuals should not be to simply lose weight; instead, it should focus on improving body composition by reducing fat mass while maintaining or increasing LBM.
Not only will a more balanced body composition make you look leaner, but it can also reduce your risk of diabetes and other obesity-related disorders. Furthermore, it can have a positive effect on your metabolism.
Diabetes and Metabolism
When most people think about metabolism, they imagine some magical system within the body that allows certain people to eat more food without gaining weight. In reality, metabolism simply refers to the process of breaking down foods in order to supply energy for the maintenance and repair of current body structures.
When you consume food, your body breaks it down into its elemental components and then directs each piece to where it needs to go. It looks something like this:
You eat food.
Your body breaks down carbohydrates into glucose, a simple sugar.
The glucose enters your bloodstream.
Your pancreas releases a hormone called insulin (Phase 1 insulin response).
Insulin helps the glucose enter your body’s cells so it can be used for fuel, stored for later use, or stored as fat.
Since your pancreas has released insulin, it needs more. So it starts to create more insulin. (Phase 2 insulin response)
Now your body is ready to start the process all over again the next time you eat.
Seems like a relatively simple process, right? But for people with diabetes, the process doesn’t work the same way.
This is because diabetes is a metabolic disorder. It changes the way your body metabolizes food so that your cells are unable to use that glucose for energy. How? It all comes back to insulin.
Let’s look at that metabolism breakdown again. There are two places where insulin is key: the Phase 1 and Phase 2 insulin responses. Insulin is a hormone that helps your cells absorb glucose to use for energy. Your pancreas releases this hormone when it first detects the glucose from your food, and then it makes more insulin to use later.
In people with type 1 diabetes (T1D), the body does not produce insulin at all. In type 2 diabetes (T2D), the body produces insulin, but the cells can’t use it properly. This is called insulin resistance. Without access to insulin, glucose can’t get into your cells, so it ends up lingering in your bloodstream.
Of course, when the glucose can’t make its way out of the bloodstream, it will start to build up. All that excess blood sugar may then be converted to triglycerides and stored as fat. With this increase in fat mass, hormone imbalances or systemic inflammation may occur or persist, increasing risk for many other diseases or conditions. Diabetes is associated with increased risk for heart attacks, stroke, kidney disease, nerve damage, skin infections, and eye problems. Diabetes can even result in an impaired immune system, which, combined with poor circulation to the extremities, increases risk of wounds and infections, sometimes even leading to amputation of the toes, foot, or leg(s). In far too many cases, diabetes creates complications that eventually lead to death.
Effects of Type 2 Diabetes on Muscle
Many are already aware of the connection between high-fat mass and diabetes, however, more recently, researchers have begun to focus on another aspect of body composition as it relates to diabetes risk: Lean Body Mass. Many studies have shown strong links between Type 2 Diabetes (T2D) and low lean body mass.
A large component of our LBM is our skeletal muscle mass, the muscles used for posture and movement. Unfortunately, diabetes is not only more common in those with less muscle, it can actually have negative effects on their muscle.
There are three main muscle characteristics that T2D affects: fatigability, strength, and mass.
Muscle fatigability refers to the rate at which your muscles become weaker after exercise or movement, and the amount of time it takes for them to recover or return to their full power. Researchers have known for years that muscle fatigability increases with T2D. When people with T2D perform an exercise, their muscles lose power faster than those of a healthy person.
T2D reduces overall muscle strength as well. Even after adjusting for age, sex, education, alcohol consumption, lifetime smoking, obesity, and aerobic physical activity, people with T2D had less handgrip strength than people without it.
As you can see, the raised blood glucose levels caused by diabetes and insulin resistance puts your muscles at a disadvantage for a number of reasons.
How Building Muscle Mass Reduces Risk of T2D
Here’s the good news. You can take control of your diabetes risk by improving your body composition. It all starts with Skeletal Muscle Mass.
Research has shown that increasing your muscle mass reduces your risk of T2D. For example, In a 2017 study, researchers in Korea and Japan followed over 200,000 otherwise healthy people who had no diabetes or prediabetes at the start of the experiment. After 2.9 years, the participants with more muscle mass were significantly less likely to have T2D: Yet another reason to include muscle building resistance exercises into your workout routine.
In fact, exercise is good for reducing diabetes risk as well as improving diabetic state all on its own. This is because exercise increases the delivery of glucose to our muscle cells. When you exercise, your muscles are exerting more than their normal energy demand, thus creating a higher need for energy/glucose to fuel them. In fact, resistance training has been shown to be particularly beneficial for T2D. Larger muscles require more energy, therefore the leg muscles, being the largest muscles in the body, are especially important for glucose uptake and regulation. Therefore, targeting the legs with resistance exercise may improve diabetes risk factors as well as promote physical function. As mentioned previously, those who are diagnosed with T2D often lose the most muscle mass in the legs, making leg day all the more important to maintain and build muscle mass to reduce the risk of diabetes.
Although type 2 diabetics are insulin-resistant, this increased demand for glucose from exercise helps to increase the efficiency of insulin to get glucose into the muscle cells, improving their diabetic state overall!
How to Improve Insulin Resistance with Diet and Exercise
So what does this mean for you? We’ve talked a lot about diabetes and its relationship to your body composition. Remember, people with T2D and pre-diabetes are resistant to insulin, meaning their cells can’t utilize the insulin they need in order to absorb glucose from the bloodstream. Eventually, this can lead to a number of health complications and other debilitating diseases. However, we’ve seen that it’s possible to significantly reduce diabetic risk and, in some cases, even reverse T2D. Here are some diet and exercise tips that will help you improve your body composition and get to a healthy level of insulin sensitivity.
If you are otherwise healthy but have low LBM and high PBF
If you don’t currently have diabetes or pre-diabetes, the most important thing you can do to lower your risk is exercise.
In one study, researchers looked at data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III. The survey covered 13,644 adults who were not pregnant and not underweight. They reviewed each person’s muscle mass and compared it to their diabetes status. What they found was astounding.
If you already have high blood sugar or diabetes, there are still ways that you can improve that. First, resistance training 2-3 times a week can relieve some diabetic symptoms.
One study found that participants who completed a strength training program had reduced their HbA1c levels from 8.7 to 7.6 percent. In fact, 72% of participants in the resistance exercise group were actually able to reduce their medication use after 16 weeks of a strength training program.
Regardless of the type of training you engage in, getting started is the first step. However, make sure you check with your health provider if you have diabetes or any other conditions before you start an exercise regimen.
The major takeaway here is that diabetes is not only a disease that has to do with weight – high body fat and low muscle mass both increase diabetic risk.
The best thing to do in order to have a better idea of your health risks and create attainable goals for yourself is to get your body composition tested. From there, you can make adjustments to your lifestyle to alter your body composition, if necessary, to reduce your risk for diabetes and other conditions. If you already have T2D or prediabetes, focus on losing fat while engaging the muscles with exercise.
Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of how your body composition affects your diabetes risk, and how you can harness the power of diet and exercise to control that risk. A low-sugar, high-protein diet combined with regular exercise, especially strength training, can improve your body composition and improve insulin sensitivity, among other benefits.
So what are you waiting for? See what you’re made of and get started on the path to a healthier life today!
Nicole Roder is a freelance writer specializing in health, mental health, and parenting topics. Her work has appeared in Today’s Parent, Crixeo, Grok Nation, Chesapeake Family LIFE, and the Baltimore Sun, among others.
Editor’s Note: This post was updated on April 26, 2018 for accuracy and comprehensiveness. It was originally published on September 19, 2017.
by InBody USA
If you’ve ever tried to lose weight before, you may have heard that a 3,500 calorie deficit results in about one pound of fat loss. In other words, if your daily caloric requirement is 2,500 calories and you spend seven days eating just 2,000 calories, you’re likely to lose around one pound of fat.
But, there’s no rule of thumb explaining how to put on (or lose) a pound of muscle mass.
Because it’s not a simple equation. Unlike losing fat, putting on muscle isn’t as easy as causing a calorie surplus. You need to know how muscle building works so you can set realistic goals, especially if you’re participating in a fitness challenge. This article will lay out factors that go into your “gains” and will answer the question: “How much muscle can you realistically gain in one month?”
The Three Pillars of Muscle Growth
Building muscle comes down to three inputs: nutrition, exercise, and hormones. Understanding these factors is the first step toward understanding how much you can build in one month.
The term nutrition is defined as “the process of providing or obtaining the food necessary for health and growth.” At a fundamental level, muscle growth starts with the nutrients you put into your body.
People trying to gain muscle generally eat a high protein diet. After all, the amino acids that make up protein are the building blocks of muscle. Your body can manufacture many of those amino acids, but nine are known as essential amino acids (EAA) because they can’t be made in the body. Instead, you have to consume EAAs from food sources like meat, beans, nuts, and soy. A diet containing mixed amino acids can help maximize muscle protein synthesis.
Protein is not the only macronutrient responsible for muscle growth. In fact, there appears to be a limit to the amount of protein one can consume to maximize muscle gain. Additionally, it takes energy to build muscle, and this means you need a positive caloric balance in order to achieve hypertrophy.
If you want to build muscle, increase your dietary protein intake– but don’t exclude your carbs and your fats. Carbs and fats aren’t all bad for you! All three are important, thus a diet balanced in carbs, protein, and fats is effective for gaining muscle.
Workouts that include resistance exercise stress the muscles, which results in muscle gain.
Your body adapts to resistance exercise by growing or changing to make them more capable of handling the workout.
The stress of resistance exercise causes the muscle fibers to tear at the cellular level. Then, special muscle cells called satellite cells jump into action to repair, rebuild, and grow the muscle.
The right types of exercises, like high-intensity workouts or compound exercises, can promote increased muscle growth. A healthy balance between workouts and rest is necessary to support healthy hormone levels and maximize muscle gain.
Three primary hormones that stimulate muscle hypertrophy are insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), growth hormone (GH), and testosterone.
Essentially, these hormones signal to the muscle that it’s time to repair and build up after a session in the gym. GH is released in the greatest quantities during sleep, so remember that getting a good sleep helps you attain your body composition goals.
When nutrition, workouts, and hormonal effects combine, the muscle-building magic really happens. Figuring out the right balance is essential for reaching your goals.
How to Manage Your Muscle Gains
Your body’s individual response to nutrition, resistance exercise and hormones can vary. But other factors can impact how much muscle gain in a month.
Supplementing Muscle Growth
Muscles need the right fuel to grow. Protein supplements are long known to boost help muscle hypertrophy, and fueling your body with EAAs is important for providing the nutrients your body can’t synthesize.
After weight training, consuming protein stimulates muscle protein synthesis by supplying providing amino acid building blocks. Traditionally, 20 grams of protein has been considered enough. Researchers recently found that experienced lifters doing whole-body workouts may need about 40 grams. But consuming more than approximately 1.6 grams per kg of body weight per day has no additional benefit for building muscle. Excess protein is burned for energy like carbohydrates and fats, excreted in urine, or even stored as fat.
Timing could also be important: research shows intaking protein before bed during a resistance training program is especially helpful for building muscle mass.
Note: While supplements may be beneficial for promoting muscle recovery and growth, they are only effective when combined with a balanced diet and exercise plan. More on supplements and their effects can be found here.
If you want to gain muscle, you need to accept that you’ll probably have some slight fat mass gain. It’s just being realistic.
What if you’ve hit a plateau?
Gaining muscle mass is all about forcing the muscle to adapt to novel stress. It’s no surprise that gains come more readily to novices than experienced weightlifters. For novice lifters, the right weight training program should be enough novel stimulus in the gym. Recent research suggests hypertrophy can be measured in as little as one month. But, there seems to be an upper limit to muscle gain. Experienced lifters should be closer to that ceiling than novices, making their incremental gains smaller.
How can the experienced weight lifter overcome this challenge? By introducing different and new nutritional or resistance stimuli.
The principle is simple: change up your routine. Since trained muscles adapt to consistent stimuli, adding variation will challenge the muscles in a different way and promote further growth.
The muscles you train also dictate your potential to gain. Your arms have a much lower total potential to gain muscle than your hips and legs because they’re smaller muscle groups.
Older adults may have a harder time building muscle because the body’s response to weight training has diminished. The muscle building machinery is still there, but it may require more input to achieve desired results.
To overcome this hurdle, use ‘novel stimulus’ thinking from the previous section. Try consuming some extra protein or adding a few new exercises to your routine. The goal is to convince your body to adapt to what you’re throwing at it.
Building muscle may be harder than it was in your youth, but it can still be done.
So what’s a realistic expectation for muscle growth for men vs.women?
It’s time to estimate how much you can reasonably gain in one month. It can be very frustrating seeing a man have an easier time putting on muscle. Due to the different physiological makeup of men and women, we will discuss hypertrophy separately.
THE FACTS FOR MEN
Remember that study we referenced earlier? The goal was simple: lose fat while packing on muscle. It worked – participants gained about 2.6 lbs (1.2 kg) of lean body mass and lost fat mass – but it was totally unsustainable. The cornerstone of this program was daily heavy circuit training, HIIT and sprint-interval workouts, and plyometric workouts, all while restricting calorie intake to just 60% of daily requirements and taking in high doses of protein supplements.
A word of caution: don’t try this program at home.
What you can take away is that those men, who had never lifted weights before, gained over 1 kg of lean body mass in just one month.
Another group of researchers decided to try a more sustainable program on a smaller scale, and guess what? The men gained 4 kg of skeletal muscle in 16 weeks. That means the rate of muscle gain was almost identical to the grueling, unsustainable program – about 1 kg per month.
This program, consisting of just five exercises (squat, knee extension, knee flexion, bench press, and lat pull-down), was certainly more realistic.
Based on the research, it’s reasonable to expect untrained men to be able to gain about 1 kg, or 2.2 lbs, of muscle per month at the beginning of an exercise program.
But what about experienced weightlifters? Because experienced lifters will likely have a slower rate of progression, the amount of gain will be generally lesser and depend on the level of training experience of the individual.
How much muscle gain is typical for young women? One study says about 0.5 – 0.7 kg in the first month for novice weightlifters. This study involved just two lifts – the squat and the deadlift. You might be left wondering what happens when women undergo a whole-body weightlifting program.
Women’s arms gain muscle at about 3 times the rate as legs (an increase of 9.7% in arms vs. 3.3% in legs). According to the study, women can expect to increase their muscle mass by 1.5 kg during the 20 weeks of training, averaging out to 0.3 kg per month.
Since body composition wasn’t measured at any point during the 20 weeks of training, there’s no way of knowing whether the participants increased muscle mass faster in the first month or two.
So is that the end of the discussion? Not exactly. Remember, each individual is different and not everyone will be able to sustain a consistent diet and exercise routine to promote muscle development for extended periods of time. This is why research on this topic is more scarce than you might think. Many researchers measure muscle hypertrophy by looking at changes in the circumference around limbs or by imaging cross-sections of the body. This allows them to understand muscle growth in different body segments (arms, trunk, legs).
However, newer technology, such as Direct Segmental Multi-frequency Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (DSM-BIA), provides a quicker, less invasive way of measuring muscle mass in addition to other components of the body.
Altering your body composition is no easy feat. It takes patience, effort, and commitment, but it’s definitely within your reach.
Your body primarily needs three basic stimuli to build muscle: nutrition, resistance exercise, and hormones. You can and should manipulate nutritional and exercise stimuli to keep your body responding.
If your current daily protein intake is 0.8 g / kg of body weight, try bumping that up to 1.5 g / kg if your doctor says it’s okay. If you currently lift twice per week, try gradually increasing to three or four sessions per week. And if you don’t do resistance exercise at all, it’s time to start!
Some people will gain substantially more, and some will gain less muscle over the course of a month. But in general, the average is about 1 kg for males and 0.5 kg for females.
To have the best chance of building muscle, stick to a training, nutrition, and recovery plan. Make sure you get your body composition measured to set a baseline and track your progress to figure out whether your fitness regimen is working for you. If you don’t meet the average values mentioned above in the first month, use the next month as an opportunity to change your routine.
Armed with the tips and realistic expectations from this article, you’ll be on your way to a better body composition in no time.
Max Gaitán, MEd is an exercise physiologist and a USA Triathlon Certified Coach. When he’s not coaching, studying, or writing, Max spends most of his time outdoors training for triathlons.
You might build up fat in your belly pretty easily, but your friend might get it in her arms. Your mom might complain about her hips getting bigger. Your brother might have fat in the upper body.
Everyone wishes that they could just magically reduce fat mass in a certain area. But unfortunately, you can’t. Targeting fat, or “spot reduction,” is a myth, and there’s no shortage of clinically-validated studies that disprove it.
At the conclusion of the 12-week study, MRI scans revealed no loss in fat between either arm.
So arms are out (as are legs), but what about the one a lot of people really fat: belly fat?
Well, in a recent (2011) study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, participants were divided into two groups and asked to perform abdominal exercises. The control group was allowed to train relatively unsupervised, while the experimental group was put on a controlled abdominal exercise workout plan.
The results for both groups?
“Six weeks of abdominal exercise training alone was not sufficient to reduce abdominal subcutaneous fat or other measures of body composition.”
No matter how many crunches or planks you do, you can’t target the fat that hugs your belly. You might develop some very strong ab muscles, but the fat will stay put.
So what can you do to get rid of stubborn fat in your problem spots? Are we to conclude that there is no point in working out different parts of your body when you want to lose fat? How does fat loss even work?
To answer these questions, we have to start with how fat gets there in the first place.
How Fat Mass Is Created and Stored
Body fat by itself is not bad; you need it to survive. However, excess body fat can cause health problems ranging from diabetes to hypertension to metabolic syndrome to a host of other serious problems.
Body fat mass is created when you are in a caloric surplus – taking in more calories than your body needs, or in plain speech: “overeating.” This is true for all humans, regardless of whether you’re male or female.
Here’s the thing: it’s actually a lot easier to get into a caloric surplus than you might think. Just because you’re eating until you feel full doesn’t mean you’re eating what will keep your body weight stable.
The 2,000-calorie diet you’re likely familiar with was designed to be the best estimate of people’s daily caloric needs, but since everyone has a unique body composition, 2,000 calories may be too little – or too much, especially if you’re inactive.
How can 2,000 calories be too much? Take the example of someone who is metabolically obese but has a normal weight – someone popularly termed “skinny fat.”
Body composition analysis reveals that this person (a female) has a body fat percentage of 35%, over the normal range for women. However, a closer look at her composition reveals that she bears the hallmarks of skinny fatness: a “normal” weight caused by underdeveloped muscle and overdeveloped fat.
She also has 88 pounds of Lean Body Mass, corresponding to a BMR of 1231 calories.
Assuming she lives a mostly sedentary lifestyle with no exercise, her Total Daily Energy Expenditure would be roughly 1477.2 calories.
This would mean that if she kept to a 2,000-calorie diet, she would be in a caloric surplus of 522.8 calories a day – meaning she could expect to gain roughly a pound of fat every week if she remained consistently on this diet every day.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a man or women; fat accumulation occurs in the same way. Where it ends up, however, can be a different story for both men and women.
Android obesity is a subset of obesity that most frequently occurs in men. It is characterized by weight gain in the midsection and upper chest and gives men a more rounded look. This is sometimes called “apple-shaped” obesity.
Men store more of their fat here because of their hormones, specifically, their testosterone levels. Women can also experience android obesity after menopause due to the decrease of estrogen in their bodies relative to testosterone.
Gynoid Obesity is another subset of obesity that most commonly occurs in pre-menopausal women. It is characterized by fat accumulation in the hips, legs, and buttocks. Because the fat accumulation generally takes place in the lower half of the body, gynoid obesity is referred to as “pear-shaped obesity.”
While everyone gains it the same way, fat accumulates in different places depending on gender, hormones, and other factors. Having fat show up in some places but not others creates the desire in people to want to target fat, which can lead them to look for strategies that help them do it.
Is there really no way to target fat?
Here’s What You Can and Can’t Target
Let’s take a look at targeting certain areas by exercising an area more than another.
What actually happens when you work out a muscle group? You challenge your muscles. Muscle fibers get torn and rebuilt, and with proper exercise and nutrition, they become more developed.
Although this can lead to localized blood flow in the exercised muscles leading to some interaction with the subcutaneous fat, the effects are very minimal and don’t contradict the studies that discount spot reduction.
In order to lose Fat Mass, you have to use more calories than you take in. This is called being in a “caloric deficit.” For example, if your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) is 2200, and you consume 1800 calories, you’re in a caloric deficit of -400 calories. If you can maintain this over time with proper nutrition, you’ll lose Fat Mass.
When you lose fat, you generally lose it in across your body at the same time. You can’t target any particular area over another.
However, fat loss does occur in some areas more rapidly than it does in others. Case in point: visceral fat.
Visceral fat is the fat you don’t see. It collects in your abdominal area and surrounds your internal organs. This type of fat is very dangerous in large quantities, and as associated with several serious health complications including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, Metabolic Syndrome, high blood pressure, and more.
It’s also dangerous because it’s not typically visible. People can have significant amounts of visceral fat but not know it because their weight/appearance doesn’t give it away. These people are sometimes called “skinny fat.”
There is some good news, however. Although you can’t “target” it per se, visceral fat is particularly responsive to cardiovascular exercise, so if you start significantly increasing your running, biking, swimming, or whatever your cardio exercise of choice is, you can expect to “see” a reduction in visceral fat. One study has even shown that for people whose BMIs exceed 25.0, cardiovascular exercise alone, even without a caloric deficit, can have a positive impact on visceral fat reduction.
To Target Your Fat – All of It – Get Back to Basics
If you have problem fat areas, you should let go of the idea that you can target them by doing exercises in that area. It’s been proven conclusively that you cannot do this, and the sooner you let it go, the sooner you can focus on what does work: proper diet and exercise.
So to target your problem fat areas, you need to target your entire body and follow the same basic guidelines for effective fat loss that will last.
Get Your Body Composition Determined
This is an important first step, and one that a lot of people skip: get your body composition determined. This will allow you to learn your body fat percentage, which will reveal valuable information about your body, including:
How much Fat Mass you have
How much Lean Body Mass you have
With that information, you can find out even more useful information, such as:
Your Basal Metabolic Rate
Your Total Daily Energy Expenditure
These two are particularly important because they’ll help you determine how many calories your body needs in a day. If you need help with figuring that out, here’s a guide to get you started on planning a diet using your body composition data.
Using Your TDEE, Plan a Diet For Fat Loss
Your TDEE will be an extremely useful number for you. You can think of it like a “calorie budget.” You can “spend” your “budget” on different foods and beverages throughout the day, with the goal of “saving” calories at the end of the day (your caloric deficit). How you “spend” your budget is up to you, but you will still want to make healthy choices throughout the day.
There are numerous diets that you might follow. Don’t follow any that ask you to eat a certain number of calories or one that worked for someone that you know. These won’t necessarily work for you. Use your own, personal TDEE as a guideline to determine how much you should be eating in a day.
If you plan to work out to increase your TDEE, include cardio and strength training.
Cardio, particularly HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) cardio, can be an effective way to increase your TDEE, and if your diet holds constant, will increase your caloric deficit and lead to fat loss.
However, just focusing on cardio alone isn’t a good idea. If you only run, bike, or do some kind of other type of cardio exercise without any strength training, you can start to lose Lean Body Mass (which your Skeletal Muscle Mass is a part of).
Losing Lean Body Mass and Fat Mass at the same time will make it a lot harder to improve your body composition and will keep you from getting the look you want. Fortunately, studies have shown that incorporating strength training can preserve Lean Body Mass while you’re in a caloric deficit to lose fat. Don’t neglect the weights!
By getting back to the basics of dieting and exercising properly, you’ll chip away at your problem areas slowly but surely. Try not to focus on short term goals and avoid any shortcut diets that advertise “weight loss secrets”, “diet hacks” or any other scam-sounding diet. If you want a guaranteed way to target your fat – all of it – get back to basics by improving your body composition.
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