Get Off the Scale!!! Focus on Bodyfat not Body Weight
By: Robbie Durand
Most women gauge the success of their fitness program based on the scale. If they don’t see the scale moving backward, and they are not losing weight, they panic and cut back on their calories which damages and slows their metabolism even further. Most eventually quit altogether because they always feel hungry, have no energy, are plagued by boredom, feel unwell and never address the lifestyle challenges that contributed to their weight gain in the first place. So, most women get frustrated and go back to their old habits and regain the weight that they lost. Their weight loss and gain become a series of ups and downs which are referred to as “Yo-Yo Dieting.” Unfortunately, frustration and weight regain are not the only results of frequent yo-yo dieting. A new study from the University of Pennsylvania suggests that yo-yo dieting can alter the way the body responds to stress. This study found that yo-yo dieting caused permanent changes to genes that control how the body handles stress. The result being that those with a history of yo-yo dieting will eat more as a reaction to stressful situations than who do not yo-yo diet. The key to losing weight is not dieting but a lifestyle change.
Not all Fat is the Same: Visceral vs. Subcutaneous Fat
So now that you understand that the key to getting in better shape is a lifestyle change, one of the biggest obstacles that women must learn is that they should be more concerned about fat loss and not what the scale displays. Not all fat is the same, in the human body, there is visceral and subcutaneous fat. Visceral fat is known as a “deep” fat that’s stored further underneath the skin than “subcutaneous” belly fat. The visceral fat forms s gel-like fat that’s wrapped around major organs, including the liver, pancreas and kidneys. Visceral fat accumulation is much more dangerous than subcutaneous body fat. Visceral body fat contributes to Coronary heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, and obesity.
Most women think that if they lose weight, this is a great way of measuring health. Previous research has demonstrated that a reduction in body weight is a poor marker for visceral adipose tissue change. Accordingly, changes in visceral adipose tissue may occur irrespective of changes in body weight. A low-calorie diet causes a reduction in muscle mass and a decrease in fat mass; that contributes to weight loss. The goal of a weight loss program should be to preserve muscle mass while losing body fat. While body weight changes are commonly used to evaluate lifestyle interventions, visceral adiposity is a more relevant and stronger predictor for morbidity and mortality.
Diet vs. Exercise for Reducing Visceral Adipose Tissue. Which is Best?
A recent collection of studies assessed the effects of exercise or diet on visceral adipose tissue. One hundred seventeen studies were included in this study. At the end of the study, the researchers found that both exercise and diet cause visceral adipose tissue loss. When comparing diet versus training, diet caused a larger weight loss. In contrast, a trend was observed towards greater visceral adipose tissue decrease in exercise. In the absence of weight loss, exercise is related to 6.1% reduction in visceral adipose tissue, while diet showed virtually no change (1.1%). Changes in weight and visceral adipose tissue showed a strong correlation after diet and a modest correlation after exercise. In conclusion, both exercise and diet reduce visceral adipose tissue. Despite a larger effect of diet on total body weight loss, exercise tends to have superior results in reducing visceral adipose tissue. Finally, total body weight loss does not necessarily reflect changes in visceral adipose tissue and may represent a poor marker when evaluating benefits of lifestyle-interventions.
Key Points: Changes in body weight represent a poor marker for adaptation in visceral adipose tissue, especially when performing exercise training. Don’t get to caught up on what the scale displays, as the study reported that exercise causes reductions in visceral adipose tissue despite having no changes on the scale.