Study Shows Up To 70% of Weight Lost by Dieting Comes from Burning Muscle


 

“The reduction of energy intake continues to be the basis of…weight reduction programs…[The results] are known to be poor and not long-lasting.” – George Bray, Pennington Biomedical Research Center

As we touched on last week, eating less does not create the need to burn body fat. It creates the need for the body to slow down. Contrary to popular opinion, the body hangs on to body fat. Instead, it burns muscle tissue, and that worsens the metabolic issue causing weight gain. Only as a last resort, if the body has no other option, it may also burn a bit of body fat.

Why does the body hang on to body fat and burn muscle? To answer that question, let’s look at it another way. What does our body want more of when it thinks we are starving? Stored energy. What is a great source of stored energy? Body fat. So when our body thinks we are starving, does it want to get rid of or hold on to body fat? It wants to hold on.

Next, what does our body want less of when we are starving? It wants less tissue which burns a lot of calories. What type of tissue burns a lot of calories? Muscle tissue. So when our body thinks we are starving, it gets rid of calorie-hungry muscle tissue. Studies show that up to 70% of the weight lost while eating less comes from burning muscle—not body fat.

Burning all this muscle means that starving ourselves leads to more body fat—not less—over the long term. As soon as we stop starving ourselves, we have all the calories we used to have but need less of them, thanks to all that missing muscle and our slowed-down metabolism. Now our body sees eating a normal amount as overeating and creates new body fat.

“It is only the rate of weight regain, not the fact of weight regain, that appears open to debate.” – D.M. Garner, Michigan State University

In the Journal of the American Medical Association, researcher G.L. Thorpe tells us that eating less does not make us lose weight, “…by selective reduction of adipose deposits [body fat], but by wasting of all body tissues…therefore, any success obtained must be maintained by chronic under-nourishment.” It is not practical or healthy to keep ourselves “chronically under-nourished,” so we don’t. Instead, we yo-yo diet. That is why eating less of a traditional diet is not an effective long-term fat loss approach. And that is why eating more–but smarter–is an effective long-term fat loss approach.

 


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