Okay. So you've started a new 'diet', or bought a new online Body Transformation programme.
And you're delighted because you've lost 4lbs in the first week. Maybe don't start the celebrations quite yet! Just because you're 'losing weight' doesn't mean that you're losing the RIGHT kind of weight....
When it comes to losing weight, there is no doubt about it that diet & nutrition are the most important factors. I agree. However, there's a problem when you lose weight from diet alone or diet & cardio only.
When people say to me they want to 'lose weight and tone up', what they really mean is that they want to lose body fat and make their body look leaner & tighter. Yes, eating in a calorie deficit WILL help you lose weight, and you will lose fat too, but the problem is not ALL the weight you lose will come from fat...the chances are some of it will be water, some of it will be daily weight fluctuations from other factors, and some of it will be muscle too :(
Trust me you do not want to lose lean muscle when dieting.
Why? Because muscle helps you maintain a faster metabolism, helps you lose more fat, allows you to eat more daily calories AND helps us achieve the tighter, leaner looking body that you're after.
One of the biggest confusions with new clients (especially FEMALE clients) is the conflict in their head between wanting to look leaner, slimmer, smaller, tighter, more toned whilst NOT gaining weight or getting bulky!
So, you want to lose fat and look toned but not gain any muscle? Really?
If you diet alone and DON'T lift weights or strength train, then yes, you will get lighter on the scales, BUT you will probably still look wobbly, i.e. skinny fat, you'll take a lot longer to lose the fat, you'll be starving hangry and you'll lose whatever lean muscle you have in the process. That's why chasing a certain weight loss on the scales as your primary goal is NOT the answer.
Lifting weights, as well as eating in a calorie deficit, is much more beneficial in the long term. As not only will you LOSE body fat (hooray) you will also maintain the muscle you already have (hooray) AND if youre lucky you will also build some new muscle while you're losing fat (hooray). Okay, so the number on the scale might not drop as quickly as if you starve yourself for 3 days (which also causes more damage to you & your hormones in the long run) just get your head around this and trust me you will end up losing MORE fat from any weight that you do lose, and you'll have an easier time getting rid of the stubborn fat you are desperate to see the back of, plus you'll stay leaner for the long term and not just lose weight on the scales for the 2 weeks that you're on the diet/detox/beachbodynonsense/pishbodytransfiormation... am I making sense yet?
Listen, I totally know that this is a hard pill to swallow.
I understand that the idea of GAINING anything in your head if you are female (it was the same for me too before I knew better) is like the devil talking.
I also can appreciate that the idea of 'building' muscle conjures up images in your mind of Arnold Schwarzenegger in a bikini, we are conditioned to want to lose/drop/diet and not gain/build/grow...but you won't turn into a power lifter or a body builder just because you lift weights. You don't even need to lift massively heavy weights to get the benefit - dumbbells & kettle bells work well too! What matters is that you are challenging your muscles when you train and your focus is on getting progressively stronger, by either using more weight, or increasing reps over time, which is a good sign that your body is getting stronger and you are developing lean muscle.
Will you get BIG. No, you'll drop in clothes sizes and inches.
Will you look manly. Of course you won't
If your friends or partner thinks you'll start to grow a beard because you lift weights - do me a favour and slap him/them from me.
My friend doesn't lift and she's lost more weight than me? Her loss. She might lose more pounds from not lifting but more of that will come from muscle. If you are lifting you might lose less weight overall, but thats because you're adding muscle AND losing fat, and in 6 months time you will thank me for it.
Take home message. You can't convert fat to muscle. If you're losing weight fast and by diet alone, its likely to be doing more bad than good to your long term health. There is no magic pill/tea or shake that can burn fat. If you're in a consistent calorie deficit you will lose weight. Lifting will help you maintain lean muscle and look leaner & tighter and lose more fat from the weight you do end up losing. WIN WIN. Please don't be afraid of weights, and stop focusing on the number on the scales as your progress measure. On that note, I'm off to the gym...