There are so many theories out there about what is the right way to get in shape and everyone swears that what they are doing is the right thing to do. I am all for trying out different methods for getting fit. I mean, as long as you are trying to get fit you are on the right track, right? However, there is this one myth that I want to debunk because I have heard it soooooo many times and I am not quite sure where it comes from. Many people believe that they need to lose weight before beginning a strength training program. Here is the rationalez: folks believe they have to shrink before putting on muscle because if they don’t, their fat will turn into muscle and then will be bigger than they want to be and too muscley (a word I just invented). Hence the theory that they must loose weight before strength training. I am thinking maybe these folks don’t understand what strength training actually does so here goes my first attempt at debunking the myth in the form of a blog.
- I think in order to understand why this theory is inaccurate (a fancy word for wrong) we need to understand a few of the benefits of strength training. Strength Training increases lean muscle mass which speeds up metabolism and burns fat.
- In order to loose weight people generally go on cardio overload. Too much cardio will burn body fat but it also burns existing, lean muscle mass creating a “skinny fat” appearance. So essentially the person achieves the “shrinking” part of the goal but now they also have“burnt up” the muscle, so their work in the gym will be twice as hard because now they have lost muscle mass and strength.
- Frequently, when people begin a weight loss mission not only do they go on cardio overload but they restrict calories to create a deficit and force their bodies to lose weight. While this may work initially, in the long run they may actually be causing their bodies to gain weight by “breaking their metabolism”(a term I use to describe common metabolic damage). When our calories are too low our body goes into a panic mode, not knowing when it will get more food so it will hold onto the calories it has for dear life. What does that mean? It means your metabolism starts to move slower than molasses because you aren’t feeding it.
3 ½- So now these folks are contending with a “broken metabolism” and a caloric deficit. Consequently, these people are experiencing mood instability, fatigue and hunger – which makes them a pleasure to be around (sarcasm). Eating correctly and exercising helps stabilize both our moods and energy levels. Which sounds more appealing to you?
- When strength training your body is in a constant state of building and repairing muscle which takes up a lot of energy. What is energy? How is energy used in the body? According to your body a calorie is energy. Why do you care? Because in order to build and repair these muscles your body is burning calories (using energy) around the clock. But doesn’t the body burn calories with cardio? Why yes it does BUT it only burns calories during the activity, it does not burn them around the clock. So if that is true why wouldn’t you do both types of exercise to get in shape? Let’s take this one step further, if we want to get in shape why wouldn’t we want to burn calories around the clock?
- And maybe the most important point: it is IMPOSSIBLE for fat to “turn into” muscle. Our bodies can lose fat and our bodies can build muscle but our bodies CANNOT turn fat into muscle. It is scientifically impossible. Muscle and fat are made up of a completely different cell structure and are not interchangeable.
Here are the outcomes you will get from the lose weight before strength training theory:
- “burnt up” muscle
- a “broken metabolism”
- the skinny-fat look
- lose weight and gain it back
- stay the same
How can this be beneficial to our bodies?
Here’s what you won’t get:
- a sculpted, lean and fit appearance
- a lasting, improved physical appearance
- enhanced metabolic functioning
- increased mood and energy
Here are a few tried and true methods that you can try to help you get in shape:
- Eat within an hour of waking
- Eat every 2-3 hours
- Focus on eating your macronutrients
- Start an exercise program that includes strength training