It is very motivating to see the scale reflect weight loss when you are trying to drop some pounds. But the scale can deceive and is not truly a good measure of what could be occurring. The reality is that for effective weight loss to occur you need to reduce your caloric intake with a sensible diet and increase your caloric output through exercise.
The exercise aspect helps you retain lean muscle mass — a factor that is crucial in optimizing your lean body mass /fat ratio. A better measure of this type of weight loss (fat loss rather than muscle loss) is the body fat composition test, using calipers or impedance or immersion techniques.
In the hands of a skilled and practiced trainer, the calipers are very accurate and can give a good picture of where the weight loss is originating.
During normal weight loss, it is generally expected that the ratio of fat-to-muscle loss is three to one, meaning that for every pound of fat that you lose, you will lose a pound of muscle.
However, this is a problem since muscle is important in the regulation of resting energy metabolism and the primary site of glucose uptake which helps ward off diabetes.
The amount of energy needed by the body to fulfill its metabolic requirements is called the resting energy expenditure and the requirement is strongly correlated to the amount of lean muscle mass that you possess.
Most experts place that figure around 60 to 70 percent of your total energy expenditure.
Muscle tissue is primarily composed of protein and are responsible for nearly every cellular task in the body. Proteins form hormones, enzymes and body tissue — especially muscle.
Although exercising during a fat loss program will help your body retain muscle, the dietary components of what you eat on your weight loss program is also important in order to protect the protein stores on and in your body.
The American requirements for protein consumption generally are accepted as between .8 to .9 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. For those who work out or for those who are wishing to lose fat but not muscle, the consumption of protein at a slightly higher than recommended level has a number of advantages.
Some of these advantages include a greater thermogenic effect (fat burning effect) and greater satiety effect (you feel full longer), and a greater potential for fat loss. The level suggested to effect these changes is around 1.4 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.
Most researchers agree that taking the protein intake to 25 to 35 percent of the dietary energy level — that is having 25 to 35 percent of your calories come from protein — can offset muscle loss, promote greater fat loss and increased muscle size. This is in comparison to some authorities that state that the diet should be only 20 percent protein based.
Roughly, consuming approximately 20 to 30 grams of protein each meal will promote better fat loss and substantiate lean muscle mass retention.
Protein pacing is a method of eating small, frequent, lean protein-packed meals that can result in better fat loss, better athletic performance and better overall health including more balanced sugar metabolism.
Dr. Arciero (Journal of Nutritional Metabolism, 2015) stated that protein pacing should lead one to consume approximately 1.4 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight daily. Athletes who train hard may consider even more going to as much as two grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. The protein should be spread out into four to six meals per day, with each meal consisting of 20 to 30 grams of protein.
His work also indicates that those individuals who used whey protein and spaced their intake throughout the day were those who lost more body fat, lost more abdominal body fat and retained their lean body mass.
Dr. Arciero’s study showed that it was not the total calories consumed that caused this effect but rather the spacing and consuming of high quality whey protein throughout the day.
Using tools such as the BMI (simply as ratio of your weight to your height) or simply the scale to measure your weight loss doesn’t really give you a clear picture of your fat loss. I encourage you to eat cleaner and lean-based protein, workout to enhance your muscle and use sensible tools to chart your progress.
Dr. Jane Riley, Ed.D., is a certified personal fitness trainer, certified nutritional adviser, and certified behavior change specialist. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 212-8119 cell/text and www.janerileyfitness.com