If you're eating a low-calorie diet and walking to lose weight, a new study has a warning for you. While walking is great for your heart, it can cause you to lose muscle mass when you're on a low-calorie diet. Fortunately, there's another form of exercise you can do to avoid these problems and lose the weight even faster. And this warning is especially important for older adults.
One of the problems older adults face as they lose weight is that they also lose muscle. This can cause all sorts of problems. Losing your muscle mass can make you more susceptible to falls, breaks, bad knees, and even illness.
The diets that cause muscle loss are usually low calorie, low-protein diets. Deficiencies in protein and calories cause the body to break muscle down. This provides amino acids the body needs to maintain organ function. So if you're on a low-calorie diet to lose weight, make sure you're eating enough protein. But there's more you can do. This study suggests older adults who are trying to slim down should consider lifting weights.
Researchers at Wake Forest University found that combining weight training with a low-calorie diet helps your body preserve lean muscle mass. This is the type of muscle you can lose through aerobic workouts.
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"A lot of older adults will walk as their exercise of choice," said Kristen Beavers, assistant professor of health and exercise science at Wake Forest and lead author of the study. "But this research shows that if you're worried about losing muscle, weight training can be the better option."
In the study, the researchers followed 249 adults in their 60s who were overweight or obese. They were also restricting calories. The researchers evaluated those who were doing weight-machine workouts and compared them to those who were walking or just doing weight loss alone.
They found that total weight loss was greatest in the walkers and weight lifters. The walkers lost 16 pounds in 18 months, while the weight lifters lost 17 pounds in the same time frame. The dieters alone lost only 10 pounds. But the muscle mass loss was greatest in the walkers. In fact, they lost twice as much muscle mass as the dieters and weight trainers.
You read that right. The researchers found that cardio workouts may actually cause older adults to lose more lean muscle mass than dieting alone.
So if you need to lose weight, lift weights and eat protein. But there's one more thing you can do to prevent muscle loss. You know those amino acids I mentioned earlier? If you take amino acids while you lift weights and eat protein, you'll maintain even more muscle mass. One of the best amino acids products I've seen is Perfect Amino. It's great for keeping your muscles strong as you age.
Your insider for better health,
Steve Kroening, ND.