Weight Isn't the Only Thing Lost in Some Programs

Article excerpt

Byline: Ray Pelelas

Q. I recently joined a weight-loss program focused mostly on diet. They also instructed me to do cardiovascular exercise, but no weight training. Why?

Karen M., Gurnee

A. Weight-loss programs usually require you to weigh in on a scale each week or so to measure your progress. Sometimes program fees are based on the amount of scale weight loss e.g. $1 per pound, but not all weight-loss programs reduce weight caused by fat. Weight loss measured on the scale may be due to loss of water only, or to a loss of water and a breakdown of lean muscle tissue.

Muscle weighs more than fat. Weight-loss programs do not typically recommend weight training because such training increases muscle tone and density. Assume that you weighed in after four weeks on their diet along with aerobics and weight training. You may have gained two to four pounds on the scale. If this happened, the weight loss program could appear ineffective. For monetary reasons, weight loss programs avoid weight training to increase their chances for success.

Scale weight is a poor measurement of fitness. The true benchmark is your percent body fat. This is usually taken with skin calipers and will tell you if you're overfat, not just overweight. Fat is an inactive tissue that doesn't need calories. Muscle is active tissue and needs lots of calories. So when you eat properly, do aerobics and weight train together, you increase your metabolic rate, burn fat and increase muscle density at the same time. …