About 30% of the weight lost by following most diet programs is LEAN muscle!!!
When most people start a diet, they understand they will lose some water weight at the beginning – and you will, but most are very surprised to learn that as they continue on the given diet, they will actually be losing quite a bit of lean muscle – about 30% of the weight lost!
Your first question is probably why? I thought I was losing FAT!
As you were following the diet, the scale showed you had been dropping some pounds and your clothes became looser – so you thought that was evidence you were losing fat. But that was not the whole picture!
As you begin to decrease your calorie intake by following the diet, your brain will begin to think since your calorie intake is decreasing, you might be going to starve, so it will go into the starvation mode.
Fat’s main purposes are to protect our organs, keep us warm and also be the last source of fuel before we die of starvation. WOW – you know you are not truly starving – however your brain does not want to chance it. It would rather slow down the energy required to run your body and conserve the fat.
This starvation mode will decrease your energy and often try to increase your cravings – especially for things like carbs and sweets! And this will also make it more and more difficult to stick to your diet.
If you continue to stick to your diet, many will see the weight loss begin to slow or even come to a halt – often called a plateau! This is where continuing on the prescribed diet becomes very challenging and you might cave into your cravings! Then the diet program blames you and your lack of willpower. (More on willpower in another blog) Your brain and body are trying hard to encourage you to eat more – to have more energy. In reality it is NOT your fault, but the diet’s fault!
Then what can you do? The first thing should be STOP the diet!
If you increase your lean protein intake (lean meats, poultry and fish) you can increase your metabolism 80-100 calories per day and still continue to gradually shed some pounds! So eating more can really help you lose weight, as long as the more is something healthy like lean protein. Your muscles will be nourished with the protein and your brain will not think you are going into starvation!
I personally know this works as I have helped thousands of women decrease their body fat, lose fat weight and improve their overall health and wellness – all without much lean muscle loss!
Another tip is add some simple form of resistance training such as functional exercises or using a some hand weights Resistance training will help minimize the muscle loss even when you are cutting calories. Studies have shown that Fat Free Mass (lean muscle) will be conserved and Resting Energy Expenditure will not decrease as much if resistance training is done during weight loss!