In Small Changes/Big Results, I mentioned that by adding or increasing your exercise, the muscle that is gained will help burn more calories, and you will lose weight faster. I want to explain a bit more on the importance of muscle.
Muscle is valuable for many reasons, including its ability to burn calories. In fact, 1 pound of muscle burns about 35 calories a day, whereas 1 pound of fat burns only 2 calories.
Studies tell us that between the ages of 20 and 30, without weight-resistant exercise, we begin to lose muscle. As we age, the rate at which we lose seems to increase slightly. As we lose muscle, our basal metabolic rate slows down, which means we are burning fewer calories. This change in metabolism generally means a gain in fat. Let’s say that between the ages of 30 and 40, we have lost 10 pounds of muscle and gained about 10 pounds of fat. That means that in 10 years, we would have a 20-pound body composition change and still weigh the same amount.
There is another interesting aspect to muscle. Muscle is denser and takes up much less space than fat. You could therefore maintain the same weight you are now and be 2 sizes smaller by gaining 10 pounds of muscle and losing 10 pounds of fat. Just think, by increasing your muscle, or your lean body mass by 10 pounds, you would increase your metabolic rate by about 350 calories a day. Just gaining 5 pounds of muscle would increase your calorie expenditure by 175 calories a day. That’s 63,875 calories or 18 pounds a year.
No wonder as we age it is so easy to gain fat simply by not exercising. Many people are frustrated by the fact that they eat just as they always have, but now they are gaining weight, not realizing that each year without resistance exercise, their metabolisms are slowing down. Exercise is the only way to reverse this effect of aging.
Many people, especially women, are afraid of getting “too muscley,” so they avoid strength-training exercises altogether. I know because I used to be one of those people, but that was before I discovered that muscle not only makes you feel better and look more toned, it also greatly increases your body’s ability to burn fat. After so many years of starvation dieting, my metabolism needed to be raised from the dead. It seemed as though it was impossible for me to lose weight and keep it off. Replacing lost muscle was crucial to reaching and maintaining my weight-loss goals. I encourage you to take action now to gain muscle so that you can reach and maintain your weight-loss goals.