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Old 02-11-2004, 08:53 AM   #1
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Why Gaining Muscle Is A Losing Strategy

Don't get me wrong. Gaining muscle is a good thing. It makes you stronger, it makes you look better, and it raises your metabolism. But too often I read people saying that the key to losing weight is gaining muscle. You'll often hear people say that the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn. Well that's true. But here's why gaining muscle isn't the best strategy to lose excess fat:

1. To gain muscle or any kind of weight, you need to take in more calories than you burn. If gaining muscle were simply a matter of lifting weights, we'd all look like Governor Arnold. To lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you take in. So while you're trying to gain muscle, you won't be able to burn fat, certainly not as much as if you were in a caloric deficit.
2. Each pound of muscle burns 35 calories per day. So even if you managed to gain 5 pounds of muscle, which isn't easy, that means it would take you 200 days to burn off 10 pounds of fat since there are 3500 calories per pound. So 200 days plus the time to gain those 5 pounds of muscle all to burn 10 pounds of fat. Seems like an awfully inefficient way to lose fat.

Weight lifting should be part of any weight loss plan to help prevent muscle loss and because it temporarily elevates your metabolism. But don't do it thinking that you'll gain enough muscle to burn off a lot of fat. In my opinion, that's some of the worst weight loss advice ever given because it's so misleading.

 
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Old 02-11-2004, 09:40 AM   #2
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Re: Why Gaining Muscle Is A Losing Strategy

Good to know! Thanks Donuts!!
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Old 02-11-2004, 10:13 AM   #3
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Re: Why Gaining Muscle Is A Losing Strategy

"1. To gain muscle or any kind of weight, you need to take in more calories than you burn. "

Where do you get that idea? A lot of bodybuilders diet at the same time as they put on muscle. Arnold's book just recommends high protein. Two very popular woman bodybuilders (natural, without steroids) in my area are vegetarians who also drink protein shakes. Both were previously overweight, both dieted and built muscle at the same time.

 
Old 02-12-2004, 02:34 PM   #4
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Re: Why Gaining Muscle Is A Losing Strategy

Quote:
Originally Posted by DonutsNCoffee
No they don't. Most bodybuilders alternate between bulking and cutting phases. There is absolutely no way around the law of calorie balance. The idea that one can gain muscle and lose fat as the same time is one the most damaging myths in the weight loss world. The people who promote this idea are usually the ones selling supplements. People who are new to weight lifting can gain a small amount of muscle, but it won't take long for their body to adapt.
I sell no supplements, but I assure you there are many studies showing people losing fat mass and overall weight and adding muscle or fat free mass at the same time. It is definitely harder to do both at once than to do one or the other at a time, but most serious weight loss dieters who simultaneously pursue progressive resistance training, will find this result, especially if they emphasize high quality protein and schedule their protein around their workouts.

They will not gain muscle as fast as folks who consume more calories, that is true. If your main goal is building muscle, you are right that high calorie is fater and better than lower. But "not as fast as' is not the same as "not."

There may or may not be a way around the calorie "laws" but if the resistance training forces the body to use more of its internal fat for the calories, they do NOT have to come from that day's food intake. Not so complicated, really, but not usually believed until the studies were done.

By the way, gaining enough muscle to have it burn 10 lbs. worth of fat every 200 days, or let's say, 15 pounds a year is just plain fabulous!!! And that five pounds of muscle doesn't have to keep growing to maintain the effect--you just can't get so lazy as to fail to maintain it. As long as that five pounds ofmuscle is there, it will bun away that manymore calories.

Studies show that most overweight people get that way not 60 pounds at a time, but (the morbidly obese to one side for the moment) at the rate of five or ten pounds a year after age 20. That's how a 35 year old winds up 50 or even 80 pounds overweight--it wasn't too much pie last christmas, it was each year being about three or five pounds heavier than the year before. By age fifty, 5 lbs. a year since age 20 is 150 pounds!

So, any practice that can subtract 5 or 10 or 15 pounds a year, added to whatever else we are doing to control weight or improve health, can be very significant indeed. Build muscle to keep trim!


sean

 
Old 02-12-2004, 10:10 PM   #5
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Re: Why Gaining Muscle Is A Losing Strategy

There is a big difference between weight lifting and body building. Weight lifting can benefit everybody, whether they simply want to lose weight and/or increase strength and/or tone their muscles, without increasing calories. Body building is more about increasing muscle size and this cannot effectively be done without major dietery changes including more protein and usually more calories.

You can get great benefits from lifting weights even while on a calorie reduction program - you can still get stronger, your muscles will become more defined (toned) and you will burn more calories at rest (nothing that will allow you to eat a couple of extra hot dogs a day but a little bit that will help in the long run). Lifting weights can also help prevent muscle loss while you are on a cardio program and/or a calorie deficit program.

Body building is more about the size and definition of muscles and requires a lot of precise training and dietery management. Even professional body builders on high calorie / low fat diets put on fat while they build muscle because you cannot control what your body does with extra calories consumed. They then have to go on a low calorie diet and increase their cardio exercises prior to a show to lose the excess fat - and hope they don't lose too much defenition.

You should also realise that lifting weights will affect your body composition and dimensions more than your weight - so don't just rely on scales. I once heard a bloke at the gym complain because the scales showed no reduction in his weight even though he had gone down 3 pant sizes!!!!!

 
Old 02-13-2004, 12:40 PM   #6
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Re: Why Gaining Muscle Is A Losing Strategy

This was the point I was trying to make. I wasn't suggesting that weight lifting is a waste of time. I was simply trying deflate some of the hype that surrounds it in the fat loss world. Too many people have bought into the hype that supplement companies perpetuate. The idea that one can build a lot of muscle easily while being on a weight loss plan. For the average person, I just don't think this is a realistic expectation. Sure there may be people who can do it, but they're in the minority. Gaining muscle isn't easy to begin with and trying to do so while on a fat loss plan is even harder. It just annoys me when I hear people say "gain muscle cause the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn." They make it sound so simple. It may be a true statement, but it leaves out a lot. And the people who are new to this stuff will try weight lifting while being on a fat loss plan, expect to gain a lot of muscle, and then be disappointed. Most people who try to gain muscle end up gaining fat. That's the whole reason bodybuilders have a cutting and a bulking phase. It you could lose fat and gain muscle at the same time, then why would even professional bodybuilders bother to split between these two phases?

 
Old 02-15-2004, 03:26 PM   #7
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Re: Why Gaining Muscle Is A Losing Strategy

You are correct in what you say, anyone expecting to turn into Mr or Miss Universe while on a calorie deficit and lifting weight for 2 hours a week is mistaken. No legal and safe supplementation can help you achieve this either - but that is what the supplement manufacturers want you to think. If you examine the 'before' and 'after' photos in some of the magazine ads, the person is usually someone who has been lifting weights for some time and the shots are 'pre-cutting' and 'post-cutting'. Unfirtunately they lead people to think that you can get muscular with whatever product they are selling and very little hard work.

Gaining muscle is not for everyone - it isn't easy, takes a lot of hard work and not everyone can achieve great muscularity no matter how hard they try. The benefits of lifting weights as part of a fitness routine can really make a difference to anybody who wants to get fitter and healthier. Furthermore, there is no need for supplements as long as you are eating healthily and getting enough rest.

 
Old 02-15-2004, 04:51 PM   #8
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Re: Why Gaining Muscle Is A Losing Strategy

I can assure you it is possible to lose weight and put on muscle at the sametime through a weightlifting regiment. I've lost nearly 60 pounds in the last six months and have put on on a lot of lean muscle through a weight regiment.

I think one flaw in your argument regarding restricting your diet and how can you put on muscle while doing that is the simple fact that your body is metabolising your fat. Likewise, when you first start a weightlifting routine (done correctly) which focuses on gaining muscle your body reacts to the stress by creating more muscle fibers.

Last edited by Gobi; 02-15-2004 at 04:55 PM.

 
Old 02-16-2004, 08:43 AM   #9
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Re: Why Gaining Muscle Is A Losing Strategy

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gobi
I can assure you it is possible to lose weight and put on muscle at the sametime through a weightlifting regiment. I've lost nearly 60 pounds in the last six months and have put on on a lot of lean muscle through a weight regiment.

I think one flaw in your argument regarding restricting your diet and how can you put on muscle while doing that is the simple fact that your body is metabolising your fat. Likewise, when you first start a weightlifting routine (done correctly) which focuses on gaining muscle your body reacts to the stress by creating more muscle fibers.
First of all, one does not create muscle fibers. Everyone has a fixed number. Gaining muscle requires increasing the size of those fibers. Second, you need more protein to add muscle. If you're taking in more protein, that means you're taking in more calories. If you're taking in more calories, there's no way to guarantee that all of those calories will be used to build muscle. If you don't have enough, you won't gain muscle, If you have too much, you will gain fat along with the muscle. And no one can pinpoint the exact number you need to gain muscle but not gain fat. The flaw in your argument is that you keep saying a person can lose fat and gain muscle, but you don't explain how. You merely use anecdotal evidence. By the way, how come you mentioned that you lost 60 pounds of fat but didn't say how much muscle you gained and how do you know you gained muscle?

 
Old 02-16-2004, 08:44 AM   #10
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Re: Why Gaining Muscle Is A Losing Strategy

Quote:
Originally Posted by DonutsNCoffee
No they don't. Most bodybuilders alternate between bulking and cutting phases. There is absolutely no way around the law of calorie balance. The idea that one can gain muscle and lose fat as the same time is one the most damaging myths in the weight loss world. The people who promote this idea are usually the ones selling supplements. People who are new to weight lifting can gain a small amount of muscle, but it won't take long for their body to adapt.
I just wanted to comment on this----(as a women---which might make a difference) ---I know that I worked out like mad training for a triatlon---I did gain a lot of muscle---I did not lose weight, but I did lose FAT-----I weighed a decent amount more than I would ideally want to---but to put this in perspective, I am 5' 9"--- I weighed about 150 and wore a size 6! 6 months after the tri- I weigh less and am back to wearing my size 8's. I WEIGH less and have less muscle, but am also less toned and have more fat

You can lose weight and tone muscle---most women do not want to bulk up----so it is a process of losing the fat and toning what is there!

 
Old 02-16-2004, 11:22 AM   #11
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Re: Why Gaining Muscle Is A Losing Strategy

Quote:
Originally Posted by tri 03
I know that I worked out like mad training for a triatlon---I did gain a lot of muscle---I did not lose weight, but I did lose FAT-----I weighed a decent amount more than I would ideally want to---but to put this in perspective, I am 5' 9"--- I weighed about 150 and wore a size 6! 6 months after the tri- I weigh less and am back to wearing my size 8's.

You can lose weight and tone muscle. so it is a process of losing the fat and toning what is there!
There is no such thing as toning. This was a term that was coined in order to get women to lift weights. Too many women were afraid weights would make them bulky, so someone came up the idea of toning. But when you hear people talk about it, they make it sound like targeted fat loss. In other words, by doing bicep curls, tricep extrensions, and shoulder presses, you can "tone" your arms. That's a big lie. You can't get toned arms unless you burn the fat and weight lifting doesn't target what parts of the body lose fat anymore than cardio does. What it does do is temporarily evevate your metabolism and that burns the fat. But it's not like doing arm exercises will automatically burn fat off the arms. Toning is one of the worst myths in the weight loss world.

As for you gaining muscle, how do you know for sure? Whenever I hear people say they gained muscle and lost fat, they're usually vague about how they know. Did they check their body fat and keep track of lean body mass? Too often I think people see more muscle tone and increased strength and automatically conclude they gained muscle. Also it's not uncommon for someone new to weight lifting to gain some muscle in the beginning, but it's usually very little.

 
Old 02-16-2004, 11:46 AM   #12
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Re: Why Gaining Muscle Is A Losing Strategy

Quote:
Originally Posted by DonutsNCoffee
The flaw in your argument is that you keep saying a person can lose fat and gain muscle, but you don't explain how. You merely use anecdotal evidence. By the way, how come you mentioned that you lost 60 pounds of fat but didn't say how much muscle you gained and how do you know you gained muscle?

I don't proclaim to be an expert and in retrospect I should have charted my bodyfat percentage from the beginning to have a much better baseline for how much actual fat I've lost. I can tell you that I've added nearly forty pounds to my max on the bench and have also seen significant gains in the amount iof weight I can put up on most of the exercises I perform. likewise, from a visual standpoint my over muscularture has increased.

 
Old 02-16-2004, 12:41 PM   #13
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Re: Why Gaining Muscle Is A Losing Strategy

It's very common for people to gain strength but not muscle, especially people who are new to weight lifting. People may see gains in strength and conclude they gained muscle. But really what happened was that they were already capable of that and the weight lifting helped them develop better focus and control over their muscles. When I first started lifting weights, I checked my body fat and calculated my lean body mass. After 1 month, my bench press went up by 50 pounds, my squat up by 60 pounds, and my chest and quads looked bigger to me. But then I checked my body fat and discovered I had only gained 2 pounds of muscle. The bottom line is that you can't be sure you're able to gain muscle and lose fat unless you're being more precise and actually keep tabs on your body fat and lean body mass. If you don't keep tabs, then how can you be sure you're not gaining fat with the muscle or even losing muscle? This is why I check my body fat every week. That way I can tell if I'm gaining muscle, losing fat, both or neither. This is the same approach professional bodybuilders take and even they can't gain muscle and lose fat at the same time, except for the ones on drugs or who just have superior genetics. For the rest of us average drug-free folk, it really is better to focus on one goal at a time.

 
Old 02-16-2004, 01:23 PM   #14
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Re: Why Gaining Muscle Is A Losing Strategy

Quote:
Originally Posted by DonutsNCoffee
There is no such thing as toning. This was a term that was coined in order to get women to lift weights. Too many women were afraid weights would make them bulky, so someone came up the idea of toning. But when you hear people talk about it, they make it sound like targeted fat loss. In other words, by doing bicep curls, tricep extrensions, and shoulder presses, you can "tone" your arms. That's a big lie. You can't get toned arms unless you burn the fat and weight lifting doesn't target what parts of the body lose fat anymore than cardio does. What it does do is temporarily evevate your metabolism and that burns the fat. But it's not like doing arm exercises will automatically burn fat off the arms. Toning is one of the worst myths in the weight loss world.

As for you gaining muscle, how do you know for sure? Whenever I hear people say they gained muscle and lost fat, they're usually vague about how they know. Did they check their body fat and keep track of lean body mass? Too often I think people see more muscle tone and increased strength and automatically conclude they gained muscle. Also it's not uncommon for someone new to weight lifting to gain some muscle in the beginning, but it's usually very little.
yes, as a matter of fact, I did go through training that involved a fat reading fairly regularly, so yes, it was kept track of.--but thanks for assuming that you are the only one with any insight into this matter.

For the record- I never said that weight training was a way to lose weight---
Regarding toning- no- lifting with your arms will not take the fat off your arms, but if the fat is to go away(exercise, diet, etc) ---and you lift biceps, curls, pull ups, you will see that change in the muscles that you directly use--hence what we would refer to as having "toned" arms, legs, etc. Meaning- they look good and are fit.

Last edited by tri 03; 02-16-2004 at 01:34 PM.

 
Old 02-16-2004, 02:01 PM   #15
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Re: Why Gaining Muscle Is A Losing Strategy

Quote:
Originally Posted by tri 03
if the fat is to go away(exercise, diet, etc) ---and you lift biceps, curls, pull ups, you will see that change in the muscles that you directly use--hence what we would refer to as having "toned" arms, legs, etc. Meaning- they look good and are fit.
This is incorrect. It only appears that way because you've burned the fat covering the muscles through diet and exercise. Unless you gained or lost muscle, you can't change how they look.

 
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