By TLC Personal Trainer, Tannis Soderquist
Does this question sound familiar?
You have been working out super hard for the last four weeks. You’ve been eating clean and healthy foods, cutting out junk foods, sugars and sometimes even coffee (heaven forbid!).
You have been stepping on the scale weekly and to your utter frustration the scale is moving super slow.
What is going on?
By now you have expected to have dropped at least 10 lbs, but there is the number, right in front of your face… only an aggravating small loss. Four measly pounds… (Note to self, a slow loss is still a loss).
You cry, you get so mad at the scale that you want to throw it, you feel so defeated. After all the foods you cut out, the hunger you felt when cravings hit, the pain and sweat and tears with starting a workout program for the first time.
“What is wrong with me? All of that work for nothing” you mutter to yourself and vow then and there to quit and eat all of the chocolate that you have deprived yourself from having.
This is one of the most common scenarios I have faced as a fitness professional. Countless people have been in this exact situation and have given up on a fitness and clean eating program for lack of results from the bathroom scale.
There is a perfectly rational and explainable answer to this question.
When you embark on an exercise program as well, as cleaning up your diet to drop excess body fat, you are causing a couple of different physiological reactions in the body:
- By cleaning up your diet and eating clean and whole nutritious foods, you are fueling your body to utilize nutrients more effectively, which in turn will help your body to use stored body fat for energy. Energy levels will increase, sleep will be improved, hair and skin will become healthier, your clothes will fit better and your mood will be improved. Now aren’t these wonderful outcomes to a clean healthy lifestyle plan?
- Now here comes the clincher. With the increase in activity levels, you are creating lean muscle mass (ladies do not fret, you will not get bulky like a man). The more lean muscle mass that we have, the more that muscle requires additional energy for consumption for fuel. Exercise will also create an after burn effect, which means that your body will continue to burn extra calories at least 90 minutes after an intense workout.
Ok now to put this all together. When you add lean muscle mass to your body, but are dropping body fat at the same time, there may be a smaller number on the scale that shows.
Why is this?
1 lb of fat weights exactly the same as 1 lb of muscle. They are both 1 lb.
The difference is in the amount of space they take up in the body. Fat is very porous, think of a large sponge full of holes. Now compare that to a small bar of soap, which is smaller and denser. Now take a scale and weigh out 4 lbs worth of soap and 4 lb worth of sponges.
Which pile is bigger? The pile of dozens of sponges.
So when the scale shows a smaller loss, but you have had to buy new clothes and you are feeling better, stronger, faster, sleep better and have more energy, it is because of the muscle that you have added to your body!
For more energy on personal training programs here at the TLC, please click here.
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