Muscle Growth Is The Key To Weight Loss

Calorie consumption doesn't determine how much weight we gain, calorie net balance does. Your calorie net balance refers to the number of calories you consume versus how many you burn. In order for someone to lose weight you have to be in a calorie deficit ( you expend more than you take in ) and if someone wants to gain weight then they need to be in a calorie surplus (consume more calories than you expend).

Do you remember when the world found out that Michael Phelps consumed 11 thousand calories a day?

Well, you aren't an olympian nor do you exercise as much as him so you don't need as many calories, but if you do exercise vigorously then you will need more calories, specifically carbohydrates and protein. Now, this calorie burn isn't just limited to exercise, every person has a resting metabolic rate. On average, males burn around 1700 calories per day and women burn around 1500 calories per day. Remember, we all have same amount of muscles on our body, but the size of the muscle is what makes the difference because a larger muscle requires more calories. Based off this, we can assume that a person with a higher muscle mass will have a higher resting metabolic rate due to the greater need of energy to operate those muscles. Therefore, if your goal is to lose weight then your main goal should be to increase muscle mass. The best way to do this is through resistance training and adequate protein intake.

Generally speaking, obtaining a higher muscle mass can be broken down into two categories, muscle protein synthesis (MPS) and muscle protein breakdown. (MPB). The muscles in our body are composed of amino acids.Throughout life our muscle proteins break down, and as we age the process speeds up. Luckily, we can slow this process down with adequate strength training and protein consumption.

When it comes to increasing muscle mass through exercise, there are three stages that occur in the muscle: stimulation, recovery and adaptation. Put simply, stimulation refers to the breakdown of your muscle proteins during exercise. To trigger this stimulation, beginners need to train at or above your 60% one rep max. So if you squat 100 pounds then you would have to perform two to three sets of 15 to 20 repetitions with 60 pounds. However, if you don't have access to heavy weights then you will have to train your 30% one rep max to failure. In fact, this training to failure yields the same muscle protein synthesis as the 60 % one rep max, unless the total amount of work is even (1). Put simply, lighter weights require more sets and reps, while heavier weights require less. To get a better understanding of this, take a look at the example below:

  • 4 sets by 20 -25 reps @ 30 % of 1 rep max

  • 3 sets by 8 reps @ 80% of 1 rep max

Once the exercise (stimulus) ends, then the recovery and adaptation period begin. To speed up these processes, make sure you consume adequate protein (20g to 40g) every three to four hours on your training days and get plenty of sleep.When the body goes through the correct recovery process it will adapt and become stronger. This adaptation occurs so that muscle protein breakdown doesn't happen again. The adaptation process can take anywhere from two to four weeks. The main factor in the adaptation process is going to be based off the experience of the lifter. The less experienced you are, the faster the adaptation. Once the adaptation occurs then you must increase the stimulus to reap the same benefits. The best way to do this is through progressive overload i.e. increase weight, sets or reps. If you stay consistent with progressive overload you will experience muscle growth, also known as, muscle hypertrophy.

Most people don't realize it, but when you exercise you increase muscle protein breakdown because are you are literally tearing your muscles apart. In order to repair these micro tears and increase muscle protein synthesis you need to consume adequate amounts of protein. Most experts recommend .5 to 1.0 grams of protein per pound. I have seen great success with my clients by recommending .75 grams of protein per pound. Remember, your diet is specific to you and is determined by your weight, your goals and exercise program. If you are serious about making changes to your body than you must have a general idea of how often you will strength train and how much protein you need to support that strength training. When I first started training clients I didn't think protein consumption was as important as some people made it. But I have completely changed my mind. I believe adequate protein intake is the key to weight loss. I have seen it first hand in my clients and I know it will work for you too. Keep it simple and include one to two palm servings of protein per meal.


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