A Publication of WTVP

Studies show more than 80 percent of people list weight control as the main reason they exercise. However, many people have the mistaken belief that exercise and physical activities burn a significant amount of extra calories while performing them. But the most effective and efficient way to burn calories is to build muscle. Muscle is the most metabolically active tissue in your body (second to nervous tissue). The average person can gain about three pounds of muscle over a two-month period from performing strength training.

It’s also estimated every pound of muscle added to your body increases basal metabolic rate by 50 to 100 calories per day. This is the amount of calories burned each day just to keep one pound of muscle alive and functioning properly. Using a conservative example, if you add five pounds of muscle to your frame, your body would automatically burn an additional 250 calories a day while at rest.

Research studies on fat loss, performed by Dr. Ellington Darden and Dr. Wayne Westcott, show the best results are produced from the combination of high-intensity strength training with a moderately reduced calorie diet and the total exclusion of steady-state activities. Does this sound better than trying to spend hours of your precious time trying to burn off extra calories?

In fact, these studies revealed many participants in the aerobic dance groups produced the poorest results because they became listless, depressed, and were chronically too fatigued to then perform their strength training efficiently. They were more prone to injury and experienced the highest dropout rate of any group they studied over a 20-year period.

The most important contribution exercise makes to a fat-loss program is the maintenance of muscle tissue while fat is lost. Strength training is the only reliable method of maintaining muscle tissue. One pound of human fat contains approximately 3,500 calories. This is enough to support the energy demands of running 35 to 45 miles. This would require the average man to run for six to eight hours. Even if a person had the time, ability, and injury resistance to go that far, not all of the calories burned would come from fat stores.

Performing too much aerobic activity can actually cause you to lose muscle tissue. Significant breakdown of muscle tissue occurs during steady-state activities to meet energy requirements. As an analogy, consider that your muscles are similar to the engine of an automobile. Losing muscle tissue represents going from an eight-cylinder engine to a six- or even four-cylinder engine. We have less power (strength), and use less fuel (calories). Therefore—start your engines. IBI