Sunday, January 11, 2015

Getting the Biggest Return for Your Efforts to Lose Weight

This is that time of the year you are bombarded with all the new and improved weight loss gimmicks such as, "Just take this pill, or wear this belt, or do this exercise and you are guaranteed to lose x amount of weight in a week."  Well, if you don't it, I'm telling you now, there are no magic pills, or mystical secrets to weight loss.  Regardless of what you hear, to lose weight you have to expend more calories than you consume.

Your body needs energy (measured in calories) to survive and you get that energy from the food you eat.  How much energy you need on a daily basis is primarily a function of the following factors:

Your resting metabolic rate (RMR) is the number of calories your body expends during quiet rest.  Your RMR makes up 60 to 80 percent of your total daily caloric requirements.  Your physical activity level constitutes between 20 to 30 percent of your daily energy needs.  And, the thermic effect of the foods you eat makes up only a small piece of your daily calorie expenditure.

You can see from the above your RMR is the largest component of your daily caloric needs. Your RMR is comprised mainly of the energy requirements of your organs, and the energy requirements of your skeletal muscle.  The energy requirements of your organs make-up 60 to 70 percent of your RMR,  while your skeletal muscle comprises 20 to 30 percent.  The daily energy requirements of your organs remain fairly constant thus, your skeletal muscle is the piece of you RMR that you can change.  By increasing your muscle mass you consequently increase your RMR which means you increase your daily energy expenditure.

As I mentioned above losing weight involves burning more calories than you consume, so building muscle gets you the biggest return for your efforts to lose weight especially in the long-term.  "How do I build muscle you ask?"  The answer is by lifting weights also known as strength training.  Strength training helps in your effort to lose weight by building muscle which increases your RMR and also by increasing your physical activity level (the 2 largest parts of your daily caloric needs).

In my next post I will talk about the additional benefits of strength training and what a good strength program consists of.