Weight loss – an equation between energy in and energy out. Simple right? Well, we want to make losing weight as simple for you as possible…
‘Energy in’ is the amount of calories consumed in one’s diet from food and food like substances we consume and ‘energy out’ is a function of calories burned during exercise, daily habitual behaviours and also one’s resting metabolic rate which is a function of body composition. If you have minimal lean muscle mass your basal metabolic will be lower than if you had higher percentages of lean muscle as muscle is a metabolically active tissue where as body fat consumes very minimal amounts of energy -measured in calories.
On the energy in side of this equation we are putting aside the fact that from a calories consumed perspective not all calories are the same. A calorie is a messenger as much as it is a unit of energy – for example the message or stimulus on the body from 300 calories of a refined carbohydrate such as a pastry with jam or a carbonated soft drink is totally different to 300 calories consumed from steamed broccoli and wild caught fish. The first will certainly have a higher propensity towards fat gain then the latter even though from an energy measurement stand point the amount of calories are the same – but for this article let’s put that aside.
Let’s look at another element we have control over by the proactive choices we consistently make, let’s focus on upregulating our basal metabolic rate (BMR).
The Oxford Dictionary gives us a good working definition of BMR – BMR is defined as the rate at which the body uses energy while at rest to maintain vital functions such as breathing and keeping warm. To increase the amount of energy used on a daily basis would be to increase the amount of metabolically active (high energy consuming) muscle tissue on the body as previously briefly mentioned. Not only does muscle burn calories to move you through space in whatever way and intensity you choose but it also regulates glucose levels in the blood stream and also increases insulin sensitivity. The opposite Insulin resistance is a “pre-diabetic” condition, which, when it gets extreme, becomes type 2 diabetes. So increasing our maintaining your skeletal muscle mass is an insurance (or rather assurance) policy against Type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, some types of cancer, and getting back to the focus point of this piece, weight loss and weight gain/obesity.
The final part of this should be to answer the question hopefully presented in your mind right now “What is the most effective way to increase muscle mass or at the very least maintain what I have?”
The technical answer is with mechano-overload of the major muscle groups of the body. This translates to increases forces through the body by lifting weights of a substantial intensity over a periodized program and/or accelerating your body for short periods at high intensity. Both variables require intensity and equally important is an appropriate recovery period and also a preparatory foundational training to qualify you to train at the intensities required for you to be most effective with your weight loss goals.
Examples of loaded exercises would be heavy squats or dead lifts at a rep range of 8 to 12 or a functional full body integrated movement such as a ViPR upper cut for 30 to 45 seconds of time under tension.
Examples of accelerated exercises would be interval training on any traditional cardio machine (if that is what you have available) or outdoor hill sprints, or short sprints in the pool of freestyle or butterfly that take no longer than 45 seconds or even using a whole body vibration machine such as a Power Plate with a confident movement pattern you have such as a squat.
All of the above options require adequate preconditioning of all the systems of the body. As intensity goes up, rewards such as increased metabolically active muscle tissue and bone strength and the best cure for insomnia also go up as do the risks if you are not properly prepared. The fastest way to put on weight and decrease muscle tissue and health is to injure yourself and this is a travesty especially if this occurs in the gym. This is why at Joint Dynamics we can take anyone in any condition from where they are to where they want to go in a systematic way with exponential increasing returns on your training investment all the while coaching effective and athletic movement patterns that decrease injury likelihood and massively increase your day to day performance.
See you in the gym – Andrew