The term “weight loss” gets a lot of hate.
There’s a legit reason: It doesn’t properly describe (or measure) what most people actually want.
That can create headaches
The classic example:
If someone loses some fat but also gains some muscle, they may be disappointed with how little their scale moved even if they’re clearly leaner and making great progress.
So now there is a need to troubleshoot, even though there’s no actual trouble.
There’s also this: Imagine if you said, “Hey, would you rather lose 20 pounds of pure fat, or lose 15 pounds of fat and 5 pounds of muscle?”
You wouldn’t expect anyone to opt for the latter.
Yet that’s exactly what many folks get.
Case in point: A 2010 Purdue University meta-analysis found that when people diet without exercising, about 24 percent of their weight loss comes from the fat-free mass.
(Fat-free mass includes anything but actual fat — muscle, water, bone, organs, connective tissue.)
That means a weight loss of 10 pounds would only be about 7.6 pounds of fat. And a good chunk of that fat-free mass loss would likely be muscle.
So what happens when people diet and exercise?
In their analysis of 36 studies that combined the approaches, the scientists calculated that just 11 percent of the weight loss was from the fat-free mass.
Which is an improvement, to be sure.
Here’s what’s most interesting, though: Only 7 out of the 36 studies included resistance training (the rest solely featured aerobic exercise) — and 5 of those 7 resistance-training studies didn’t show any decrease in fat-free mass.
You can see where this is going, and it’s probably no surprise. If you want to optimize fat loss, resistance training should be part of your program.
But let’s go a little deeper here, and look at this from another angle, courtesy of a new review just published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology.