Did you know that the average woman gains twenty-four pounds between the ages of twenty-five and sixty-five? As we struggle to lose weight, or at least to keep weight gain at a minimum, we can choose from multitudes of diet and exercise programs to help us achieve our ideal weight. There is so much weight loss information out there, however, that we can be confused by what is true and what is false. Here are some common questions with the real truth answers that will help you separate fact from fiction when it comes down to the waist-line finish-line.
Q: If you have more muscle, do you burn more calories?
A: Muscle does burn a lot of energy—much more than fat. Every pound of muscle burns between 40 and 120 calories a day just to sustain itself, while every pound of fat burns only 1 to 3 calories. Calories burned can add up over a week, month, and years. If you add more muscle, you use more energy and store less fat, and that is why it’s a good idea to do strength training if you want to lose weight.
Q. If I do lots of crunches, will it make my belly flatter?
A. Doing exercises for a particular body part will not burn fat at that very area. There is no such thing as spot-reduction through exercise. By exercising a specific body part you are building muscle mass in that area that will look lean and mean only after burning the fat over the muscle. Keep up the crunches, however, even if you don’t see the results, your stronger abdominal muscles will help protect your back and your improve posture.
Q: Which is better for strength training--free weights or weight machines?
A: Deciding to use weights verses weight machines is like trying to decide between riding a bike and swimming—they’re both good for you, but each has its own pros and cons. Free weights (dumbbells, medicine balls, kettle bells, barbells) allow you to focus and be aware of strengths and weakness of both sides of the body. Machines are somewhat safer because they help prevent poor form; they’re built to force you into correct anatomical position to isolate specific muscles.
Q: I just started an exercise program and haven’t seen any change in my weight. Why isn’t it working?
A: When people start to exercise and eat healthful foods, it often seems like their weight doesn’t change much at first. This may be explained by the fact that muscle is denser and heavier than fat, so as you build more muscle mass and lose fat, you may not see a drop in the pounds right away, but you will see reductions in waist size and improvement in your overall body shape. Hang in there, over time you will continue to see more dramatic changes because the muscle will start to burn more calories, your metabolism will increase, and your weight will then decrease. You may want to track your initial success in a different way other than pounds—how much strength you’ve gained, body fat analysis, how you feel or girth measurements.
Q: I eat well, exercise over two hours every day, and still can’t lose the weight. What should I do next?
A: If you’ve done all you can do, maybe it’s not you. There are nine known hormones that tell you to eat more, and fourteen that tell you to stop eating. These hormones do their best to keep you regulated, but it is possible that they may have glitches now and again. Sex hormones and endocrine hormones can also be the cause of your inability to lose those pounds. If you’re convinced that your fat is not attributed to your lifestyle, it’s worth asking your doctor about blood tests that measure hormones and other blood chemical levels that may be affecting your inability to lose weight.
If you have a specific fitness question for Alice, she can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.