Author: Jim Robertson
It's a scientific fact that a pound of lean muscle tissue burns more calories than a pound of body fat, and that it consumes more calories even while at rest. A muscular man burns off more calories per day, even when he is asleep, than a man of the exact same weight, doing the exact same level of activity as a softer, fatter man. It follows, then, that the muscular man may be able to consume 3000 calories in a given 24-hour period and not gain an ounce of fat, while the "fat" guy might gain a half pound of body fat with the exact same amount of food. It's great math for the muscular guy, not such good news for the fat guy.
The fat guy probably wants to lose weight, to become the muscular guy. But he needs to realize that there are two separate goals embodied by that statement of his goal. They are related, but different. Losing weight is one thing. Gaining muscle, another. Can you actually gain muscle while you lose weight? Yes, but it's tougher than attacking either goal alone, as they are somewhat opposing bio-chemical processes. A better goal is to strive to lower your body-fat percentage, to actually change the composition of your body by decreasing fat and increasing muscle mass. You won't see much change on the scale, but you will in the mirror, and in what your doctor sees at your next physical.
The news about adding lean mass keeps getting better and better. Once the muscle mass is in place, it will be easier to keep the weight off going forward, which would not be the case if our "fat" guy simply lost the weight without gaining mass. Because this is also true: a 200-pound muscular man burns more calories per day, even at rest, than a 170-pound muscular man. So losing 30 pound of fat - that's good. Losing 30 pounds of fat and replacing it with 30 pounds of lean muscle mass - that's better. In fact, that's fantastic, because the muscular guy is less likely to return to the cycle of dieting and gaining and dieting again, which was the likely experience of the heavier fellow.
If you gain muscle mass, you'll raise your basic metabolic rate so that your body will require more calories and consume them more efficiently. It will store less calories as fat, even the ones it doesn't immediately burn, because it knows there will be plenty of new calories arriving soon. This is only one of the factors in the weight loss equation, but it does change the numbers in a direction that serves your goals. Because once you are carrying more muscle on your frame, you'll still have to burn more calories than you consume… it's just that now that break-even number will be higher, you can eat more before that happens. Or, on the other side of the equation, you'll be able to get away with less exercise than before because your body is already burning away calories simply by virtue of it being muscular. But don't allow this to last for long, because cause and effect can switch places quickly, and you'll need to work to keep the muscles you've worked to acquire in the first place.
Speeding up your metabolism by packing on some lean muscle pounds certainly isn't easy. But the result is worth the effort. Because it's about much more than losing weight - which is a nice side-effect of the process - it's about losing your inability to manage your weight going forward, and looking better, feeling better and being healthier.
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