A MAT­TER OF MUS­CLE

The Northern Advocate - - Front Page - Carolyn Hansen Carolyn Hansen is co-owner of Any­time Fit­ness.

It’s no se­cret that ex­er­cise and a healthy diet are two ma­jor keys to health, longevity and weight main­te­nance for ev­ery­one. All types of ex­er­cise should be com­mended for the ben­e­fits they pro­vide. How­ever, when it comes to pro­mot­ing health and longevity and keep­ing your weight sta­ble and healthy, there’s one type of ex­er­cise that shines above all the rest.

And, it’s not aer­o­bic ex­er­cise. In fact, con­cen­trat­ing on aer­o­bic ex­er­cise – low-im­pact, long-du­ra­tion ex­er­cise such as swim­ming, tread­mills, or aer­o­bic classes - of­fers lim­ited ben­e­fits. Putting your en­ergy ex­clu­sively in the aer­o­bic arena, de­nies you the ben­e­fit of the al­limpor­tant meta­bolic burn.

Al­though th­ese low-ex­er­tion type move­ments burn a few hun­dred calo­ries while you are en­gaged, as soon as the ex­er­cise stops, so does the calo­rie burn. In­dulge in that post­work­out pro­tein shake with added ba­nana while catch­ing your breath and you’ve eas­ily re­placed ev­ery calo­rie you’ve worked off the last hour or two huff­ing and puff­ing!

But, what’s even worse, is keep­ing up this type of ac­tiv­ity on a reg­u­lar ba­sis al­lows your body to ac­cli­mate it­self to the process. This en­sures that your mus­cles are ad­e­quately stocked with glyco­gen so your body will not be re­quired to tap into your re­serves of body fat even though you stick to your work­out sched­ule re­li­giously. This only leads to frus­tra­tion and even­tu­ally de­feat for many.

So, what’s the so­lu­tion?

The real path to in­creased meta­bolic rate in­volves strength train­ing. In other words, the type of ac­tiv­ity that builds lean mus­cle.

Since mus­cle is denser than fat, I know that sounds coun­ter­pro­duc­tive if you’re try­ing to lose weight, but the re­al­ity is, mus­cle tis­sue is ac­tive tis­sue and re­quires fuel to do its work. Even when not mov­ing, mus­cle tis­sue is burn­ing fuel to keep warm and be ever ready to per­form when called upon at a mo­ment’s no­tice. This all equates to calo­ries burned and pounds lost.

Fat tis­sue, on the other hand, has a much lower ca­pac­ity for keep­ing it­self warm and can per­form no ac­tion that ex­pends en­ergy through mov­ing mass around – some­thing mus­cles are champs at.

An ex­tra 4.5kg of lean mus­cle tis­sue uses up nearly 100 calo­ries per day (even sit­ting on the couch) – this is equiv­a­lent to about one pound of fat per month. Toss in chal­leng­ing

The real path to in­creased meta­bolic rate in­volves strength train­ing.

phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity and the num­ber of calo­ries each pound of mus­cle con­sumes per day in­creases and can be any­where from two to five times as much than when sit­ting still all day.

Al­though th­ese num­bers are not large, and it doesn’t seem they would make much of a dif­fer­ence in your weight-loss ef­forts, over time this ef­fect does lead to a real change in body com­po­si­tion – your mus­cle to fat ra­tio.

Which do you pre­fer? Car­ry­ing 4.5kg of lean mus­cle that’s burn­ing fat all day long, or 4.5kg of fat tis­sue that just sits there do­ing noth­ing? The choice is ob­vi­ous.

Bot­tom line is this: Al­though meta­bolic rates are de­ter­mined in part by our ge­net­ics, there are ways to boost your meta­bolic en­gine and the best way to do it by far is to build mus­cle mass. It’s mus­cle tis­sue that’s your great­est se­cret weapon in the fight against flab.

It of­fers a big­gest num­ber of added ben­e­fits as well such as a re­duc­tion/ less like­li­hood of ex­pe­ri­enc­ing back pain, high blood pres­sure, and de­creases in sex­ual per­for­mance later in life.

Guys take note – erec­tile dys­func­tion plays a much greater role in the sex lives of those who sport a pot belly. An­other great rea­son to el­e­vate your me­tab­o­lism by adding mus­cle tis­sue through proper strength train­ing.

All your ma­jor or­gans – your brain, kid­neys, heart and liver ac­count for nearly half the calo­ries you’ll burn while rest­ing, while the di­ges­tive sys­tem, fat and the body’s mus­cles ac­count for the re­main­der.

The favoured “ex­cuse” when ex­plain­ing away ex­cess weight gain for many peo­ple is “my me­tab­o­lism is slow”. But, the re­al­ity is, me­tab­o­lism is not fixed and daily ac­tiv­i­ties along with diet play sig­nif­i­cant roles in how well it func­tions.

Al­though it may appear that oth­ers are gifted with a faster me­tab­o­lism from birth, in most cases, the real truth is it’s the re­sult of ac­tive, healthy life­styles. You can count calo­ries metic­u­lously along with fats and carbs, but if you re­ally want to lose weight suc­cess­fully and keep it off, you must un­der­stand how your me­tab­o­lism works and what it does for your body.

Your level of proper strength train­ing will and does in­flu­ence the rate/speed of your me­tab­o­lism and that in turn af­fects weight gain or loss.

Whether di­et­ing or not, if you’re putting time and ef­fort into ex­er­cis­ing your body, why not choose ex­er­cise that builds lean mus­cle mass,so you can reap the ben­e­fits of an in­creased meta­bolic burn at the same time?

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If you’re putting time and ef­fort into ex­er­cis­ing your body, why not choose ex­er­cise that builds lean mus­cle mass, say Carolyn Hansen.

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