The Relationship Between Muscle, Weight, & Size

Its very important to be able to discern between losing weight, and losing body fat.

After spending the better part of 2 weeks in hospital recently, not sleeping more than about 4 hours per night, and not eating nearly as much as I usually do, ( i went for 2 whole 24 hour periods of complete fasting!), with no exercise, I lost about 5kg.

Now this is NOT good weight loss by any stretch of the imagination, this 5kg was probably a bit of of body fat with the majority being muscle tissue.

Had I kept living a similar lifestyle (of starving myself, not getting enough sleep, and NO exercise) I would soon end up with a much higher body fat percentage and would be quite out of shape in no time.

So whilst 5kg of weight loss might sound great to a lot of you, there is a big difference in HOW you lose 5kg and what that 5kg is actually composed of.

Weight loss on the scales CAN be a bad thing, and it certainly doesn’t mean you will definitely look better, or be healthier just because you’ve lost some kg’s.

For example here are some quick ways to drop some weight quickly if you really want to:

– Amputate an arm or leg.
– Osteoporosis.
– Dehydration
– The Flu
– Shaving all your hair off
– Lobotomy.

So really what we’re after is a 5kg loss of 100% BODY FAT, this is the ideal outcome. To do that we need to maintain muscle tissue, and ideally gain muscle tissue.

It’s important for Females in particular to understand that this is how you really change how your body looks (in terms of muscle tone and shape), and in doing so will increase your ability to burn body fat and improve body composition over the long run.. (So how you will look in 2, 5, 7, 10 years from now)

As you get older, your will lose muscle tissue if you don’t pro-actively maintain or increase it. So your daily eating patterns now won’t be tolerated as well in 2, or 5 or ,10 years from now. You can learn this the hard way (by looking in the mirror in 10 years and realising your body has gone really down hill) OR you can take action now and be in control.

Here’s a familiar scenario – in January, Sally and John agree to lose weight together. Sally watches what she eats, counts every calorie, and spends hours on the treadmill every day. After a month, she’s down by 2kg.

Meanwhile, John decides to drink less soft drink and manages to cut down to one can a week from his usual four. He gets to the gym when he can – maybe three times a week – but half the time, he ends up cutting his workout short. One month of this, and he is 5kg lighter!

What the heck? Why does this happen? (I can hear all females gritting their teeth from here.)

There are many physiological reasons, but the difference in their muscle mass is one of the biggies. The extra muscle tissue allows John to burn a lot more calories, at rest and during exercise.

Let’s compare two WOMEN this time – Sally and Mary both have the same amount of fat, but Mary has an extra 7 kg of muscle.

If, for one year, Sally did exactly what Mary did to MAINTAIN her weight – go to work, sleep, play netball, whatever – Sally would actually gain 5-10kg of fat. Due to the differences in their resting muscle mass, Sally just isn’t expending the same amount of calories day to day. and since Mary has more muscle and weighs more overall, despite having the same amount of fat, she actually has a lower percentage of body fat.

 

Weight Versus Size

Deciding on an arbitrary weight that you think you should be, really isn’t an indication of anything, I could line up 10 females all with the exact same weight & height on paper, but they could all have completely different looking body’s, fit into different dress sizes and have BIG differences in body fat percentage.

Since muscle is more dense than fat, 1 kg of muscle will take up less space than 1 kg of fat. Muscle density is 1.06 kg per litre of space and fat density is 0.9196 kg per litre of space.

If you gained 10kg of muscle at the same time you lost 10kg of fat, you would be smaller, about 1.4 liters smaller. On the scale you would weigh the same., but your pants would be looser and your metabolism would have increased so now you’re burning more calories even when resting, allowing you to tolerate eating more food to stay at that same weight.

 

 

Let’s say you and your friend decide to start two different weight loss programs at the same time. After 6 months, you’ve lost 10 kg by working out, eliminating alot of processed foods & replacing with good healthy foods, while your friend has lost 11 kg by lying in bed drinking coffee and smoking.

Your 10kg scale weight loss might equal a 10 kg muscle gain with a 20 kg fat loss. If so, you’d be 12.3 liters smaller.

On the scale, it would look like your friend who lost 11 kg (9 kg of muscle and 2 kg of fat) was doing better, but in fact, she’d only be 10.7 liters smaller, making her 1.6 liters bigger than you and not looking nearly as good for a similar weight on the scales. Ha!

Meanwhile, going forward, who will maintain her new weight more effectively? It sure won’t be your friend.

Of course, this is an oversimplification, because muscle and fat are not the only things at play. But the message is the same – losing weight is very different from losing fat.

 

If you are interested in finding out exactly how much body fat and how much muscle tissue you are carrying, and what your exact body fat percentage is, the only way to know for sure is through a DEXA scan, this is the gold standard when it comes to accurately measuring your body fat percentage. A DEXA scan will give you a detailed analysis of your overall fat mass, muscle mass, and bone density as well as your energy or calorie demands for weight loss.  If you’d like to get one, you can purchase through The Fit Stop for $79, this is 20% cheaper than the regular price of $99. It’s a good idea to get one every 3-12 months to make sure that over time, things are heading in the right direction. Scans are done in the CBD, so not too far from St Kilda.

Just send an email to ben@bgltraining.com.au to organise your scan

 


 

 


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