We've all been there, feasting for the holidays that begins on Thanksgiving, spiked with a few holiday parties, and the grand all out finale by the time New Year's hits. In between there's a streak of days with concerted effort to 'reform' from all these indulgences with a hard-core cleanse or two. Something really disciplined to bring us back in line and hopefully down a size by the 25th, or at least the 31st. Usually it involves some lovely form of caloric deprivation, whether soups, smoothies, or stews, and some extra spin sessions or HIIT classes.
And then January rolls around and it's time to really get serious. With a clean eating plan and lots of gym time. Early, really early in the morning. We can see all that extra packaging dropping off, revealing the real fit and lean version that's ready to take on 2017.
But somehow we get stuck again, where it works well for a bit, we lose some weight with all the extra cardio and clean eating, but feel short-changed on the vision of the "New You."
Well it's not a shocker - losing extra adipose poundage isn't easy. Our resting and non-resting energy expenditure decreases, and our satiety hormone - leptin - decreases, leaving us feeling less satisfied and more hungry. All the time.
So are we missing something, a "secret ingredient," to our training?
Well, we know that skeletal muscle is the primary organ causing the decline in our non-resting energy (NREE) expenditure. It gets more efficient as we lose weight. Say you were to lose 10% of your weight by eating less calories than you need. Your skeletal muscle just dropped your NREE by 75% This is a big part of why you can't go back to eating the same number of calories. Your body's energy expenditure went down, so less calories in to keep it off.
And say you decided to do a very low calorie diet (500 kcal/day) to drop those pounds. Well, may as well have done a low-calorie option (1250 kcal/day) instead, as the weight loss is similar. The authors of that article hit on a key factor to why we regain weight: because the calorie restriction is causing a loss of muscle mass! The % of muscle mass lost was associated with weight regain - as much as 8.8% muscle mass lost in that super low calorie group!
So why is this Not-So-Secret? Because we've already known for almost 30 years that strength training while reducing calories not only reduces weight as much as those who just diet, but also results in maintaining all that precious muscle! And we just saw how critical it is in preventing weight regain. Bottom line, if your "New You" training program is just cutting calories and not building strength, there's definitely an upgraded version available for your sustainable success.
So as you get ready for the holiday feasting and fasting, here's to a slogan that can bring some bipartisan support for the #win in 2017