Muscle… Does The Body Good!
My previous article touched on the extreme importance of muscle and a list of many of the important roles and functions that it plays is the body. Today I will dive in to one of the topics and elaborate further.
Muscle and Metabolism
I believe there is a large misconception among exercisers that in order to lose weight and burn body fat that you have to do a lot of aerobic exercise and eat many small meals throughout the day to “get your metabolism going.” If I’ve heard it once I’ve heard it a million times, “I have to get my cardio in.” When it comes to burning body fat people have been incorrectly biased toward a heavy dose of slow intensity, long duration aerobic exercise. Repeatedly biking, riding the treadmill/elliptical, and running our way toward trying to increase metabolism and have a reduction in body fat. Only, most of the time that doesn’t happen. Why?
Because to really improve your metabolism we need to add lean muscle to our bodies and it is almost impossible to build lean muscle by doing slow to medium intensity aerobic exercise. And I don’t care how many small meals you have a day if you aren’t building muscle; constantly having food in your system isn’t going to speed up your metabolism. To make matters worse, chronic cardio (an hour to several hours a day) could potentially lead to muscle wasting and an overall decrease in lean muscle mass. You’ve met these people, doing constant aerobic exercise they have the potential to become lighter on the scale but have that “skinny-fat” look. So while your weight may go down with a heavy dose of aerobic exercise, your body fat and muscle as a percentage may stay the same or you could potentially lose muscle and still have no real effect on your metabolism.
Why is muscle important for metabolism? By increasing the amount of lean muscle we have on our bodies we increase the demand for energy to power those muscles. This leads to an increased metabolism that must be generated in order to meet that demand. When weight reduction without an increase in lean muscle mass is your goal, there is the possibility that metabolism won’t be increased. Although your weight is lower you have built leaner muscle which is what truly powers metabolism. This is because muscle is anabolic and demands energy just to sit on your frame – even when you sleep. For every pound of muscle that you gain, your body will burn approximately 50-70 calories more per day, and burning more calories leads to a reduction of excess fat. And for those of you out there who think by adding muscle you will “bulk up” you should know that one pound of fat takes up to five times more space on your body than muscle, which means you can gain a pound of muscle and lose a pound of fat, and while your weight stays the same, you will actually shrink in size. This is because muscle is denser than fat, and takes up less space on your frame, pound for pound. So if you truly want to increase your metabolism and burn body fat at the same time the best way to achieve that is to build lean muscle. Short answer, more weight training.
Lead Ortho-Kinetics® Trainer