The best way to lose fat permanently without muscle loss is to lose weight slowly with a focus on exercise rather than severe calorie cutting. In the chapter on goal setting, we already made the suggestion to lose no more than two pounds per week. Let's take a closer look at the logic behind that recommendation.
In the ACSM's position statement on "Healthy and unhealthy weight loss programs," The ACSM recommends losing weight at a maximum rate of two pounds per week. This two pound figure has become almost universally accepted as the standard guideline for safe weight loss.
Why? Because you can lose more than two pounds of weight per week, but you're highly unlikely to lose more than two pounds offat per week. Even at two pounds per week, it's difficult to lose 100% body fat with no loss of lean body mass.
Over the years that I've been doing personal coaching programs, I've kept progress charts for every client that meticulously document skinfolds, body fat, body weight, lbs. of fat and lbs. of lean mass. I have literally hundreds of these charts in my files. Analyzing these real-life case studies has proven to me without a shadow of a doubt that when you lose more than two pounds per week, you almost always lose muscle along with the fat. I've seen fat loss greater than two pounds per week on numerous occasions, but this is the exception rather than the rule. Usually this only happens when someone has a large amount of weight to lose.
The more slowly you lose weight, the easier it is to maintain your lean muscle mass and keep the fat off. It's better to lose only one pound of pure fat per week than it is to lose two pounds per week with one pound from muscle and one pound from fat.
Bodybuilders usually set their goal to lose weight at a rate one to one and a half pounds per week. Losing only a single pound a week may seem like an excruciatingly slow process, however, this is one of the best-kept secrets of bodybuilders and fitness models and one of the most important keys to permanent fat loss. Why would you want to lose weight faster if you know you're going to lose muscle and there's a 95% chance that you're going to put the fat back on?
What should you do if you lose more than two pounds per week? It depends; everything is relative to the individual. If you have a large amount of fat to lose, then losing three pounds a week is safe and acceptable during the early stages (as long as you're measuring your body composition and the weight you're losing is fat and not muscle). However, as you get closer to your long-term goal, expect the weight loss to slow to one or two pounds per week.
For most people, losing more than two pounds per week means that you should actually eat more! This may be difficult for you to accept, but if you lose more than the recommended amount, you're not just losing fat - you're losing muscle. Don't let the temporary ego boost from a large drop in scale weight sabotage your efforts in the long run. Be patient. Don't ever confuse weight loss with fat loss.
Chapter 3: Body Composition: How to determine your fat to muscle ratio
"Weight is largely meaningless as an index of fitness, health, physical attractiveness, or practically anything else related to human beings. Unless you are an athlete aiming to compete in a certain weight class, what matters is body composition, not weight. Body fat percentage is a measure of body composition. Unlike weight, body fat percentage addresses the all important question of what your body is made up of."
-Rob Faigin, author of "Natural Hormonal Enhancement"
-Dr, William Evans, author of "Biomarkers" Muscle vs. fat
Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but let's face it - muscle looks better than fat. Fat fills in all the lines and "cuts" that separate each distinct muscle group. It covers up the muscles with a thick layer of spongy insulation, obscuring the muscle definition below and adding a round, soft and doughy quality to the entire body. Muscle is what makes your body solid, chiseled and athletic-looking. But muscle has more than just aesthetic value. Your goal should be to build and maintain muscle not just for how it looks, but also because of what it will do for you.
Muscle is your secret weapon in your war against fat. Muscle is your "metabolic furnace," burning calories even as you sleep and watch TV. Muscle is active tissue - it is the catalyst for a fast metabolism. Fat just sits there idly in clumps on your body. Unfortunately, most people pay little attention to their amount of muscle because they're too busy worshipping the almighty scale. This is a huge mistake!
Most people are totally obsessed with scale weight. The problem with the scale is that it doesn't tell you how much of your weight is fat and how much is muscle. Another problem is that scale weight can fluctuate wildly on a daily basis based on your water levels. This can blur the real picture.
Losing weight is very easy. Losing fat - and keeping it off - without losing muscle, is a much bigger challenge. If you simply wanted to lose weight, I could show you how to drop 10 -15 pounds over the weekend just by dehydrating yourself and using natural diuretics. Bodybuilders and wrestlers do it all the time to make a weight class. But what good would that do if it's almost all water and you're just going to gain it all back within days?
If you want to achieve solid muscle gain or permanent fat loss and get off the diet roller coaster once and for all, you must squash your preoccupation with scale weight and instead judge your progress based on lean body mass and body fat. Ignoring the scale in favor of body fat is a difficult shift in mindset to make, but it's essential to your long term success.
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