Is Weight Loss Really the Goal?

Two people: same height, same weight, same BMI, but very different body compositions, levels of health and fitness, and most likely very different eating habits and nutrition profiles.

Most people walk into the gym saying that they want to lose weight. Most of the time the very first thing I hear from a new member is something like “I’d like to drop ___ pounds.”  Many of our members weigh themselves weekly, or even daily. The number on the scale can sometimes dictate a person’s attitude. If that number is not going down, they think something is wrong. They think that their training is inadequate, that they’re eating too much and not working hard enough. People stress over their diet and freak when they don’t shed any weight. But 9 times out of 10 weight loss is not what these people actually want! They want fat loss, and fat loss doesn’t necessarily translate to weight loss. If you’d like to lose weight to look better, feel better, and perform better, you’re probably wanting to lose fat more than weight. This distinction is very important.

Let this idea soak in: weight loss should not be the main motivation behind nutrition changes. What should be your driving force? Three words: Improved Body Composition.

Body Composition refers to the percentages of fat, lean muscle, and bone mass in the body. For our purposes we can combine lean muscle and bone mass into one category: lean body mass (LBM). When a person says they’d like to lose weight, they probably mean that they want to reduce their body fat percentage, thereby increasing their percentage of LBM. Body fat weighs less yet takes up more space than lean muscle. Lean muscle weighs more and takes up less space than fat, while also requiring more energy. A person with lots of lean muscle will burn more calories throughout the day than someone with less lean muscle, all else being equal.

Here’s an example: Take two people with the same age, height, and weight, let’s say 30 years, 6 feet, and 200 pounds. Person A is 25% body fat, 75% LBM. Person B is 12% body fat, 88% LBM. They both weigh the same, yet person B most likely has a smaller pant size, better muscle definition, higher energy throughout the day, superior performance inside and outside of the gym, etc.

So when someone comes to me saying, “I want to improve my diet so I can lose 10 pounds and improve my 5K time,” I immediately know that they are setting the wrong goals. Their goals are to “lose 10 pounds” in order to “improve their 5K time.” What should their goals be? Well, let’s say this is person A from our example above (25% BF, 75% LBM). This person’s goal should be: “I want to improve my diet so I can lose 5% body fat and improve my 5K time.” This approach will most likely lead to more rapid, permanent, and generally beneficial changes to their health and fitness.

There are many ways to lose weight. The traditional route of dieting (i.e. reducing food intake) and increasing activity can lead to weight loss. However, it may not necessarily lead to improved body composition. If you’re focusing on calorie counting and getting in your 30-60 minutes of cardio each day, you’re missing the point. On the other hand, if you’re improving what you’re eating in order to manipulate your body composition, you’re probably setting yourself up for success. The nutrition improvements that we recommend will rapidly help improve your body composition. For most new members, rapid weight loss will follow the rapid fat loss they experience. Many members, after making the changes we recommend, eat more than they did before and maintain or even gain weight, all while burning fat, reducing their waist size, gaining muscle definition, vastly improving their performance, and reaching their aesthetic goals.

If you’re interested in learning more, please email me at zach@crossfitintensify.com. I can show you how you can reach your goals faster than you ever thought possible by making healthier food choices. If you’re sitting there thinking, “I already eat healthy but things aren’t improving” then please contact me.

In my next post I’ll explain a simple way that you can grab control of your body composition. Most people are surprised to hear how this is done.


 

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