Most of us have tried to lose weight at some point in our life, and some people seem to be constantly on a diet. Yet calorie-slashing rarely results in long-term weight loss. A low-calories diet sends a message to your body that resources are scarce. So your body tries to conserve energy. The only way to have a sustained impact on your weight and health is to develop new habits of healthy eating and regular exercise. There really are no shortcuts. Exercise revs up your engine, burning calories and letting your body know that energy is needed. But there is a “secret” to increasing the amount of calories that your body burns, even when it is at rest. Build up muscle!
* Muscles and Mitochondria *
Increasing muscle mass does not require bulking up (getting the muscle-bound body of a competitive weightlifter), just toning up. The muscle cells of your body are full of little powerhouses called mitochondria. These little organelles are where your body turns food calories into usable energy. Most of the cells in your body have mitochondria, but muscle cells are packed with them. And the more you build up your muscle fibers, the more mitochondria there are to burn up your stored food energy.
* Cardio and Resistance Training *
Cardio workouts burn calories and help your circulatory system stay healthy, since the main muscle that you are working is your heart. But increasing muscle mass is the gift that keeps giving, because you are not merely burning calories while you exercise. Increasing muscle mass increases your basal (resting) metabolic rate.
* How Do I Increase Muscle Mass? *
When you do any form of resistance training (lifting weights, using machines, doing push ups, sit ups or chin ups) tiny tears form in the muscles that are being stressed. After you workout, the torn muscles begins to rebuild, creating new muscle that is bigger and stronger than before. Your muscles grow as they repair between workouts.
* I Don’t Want to Get Bulky! *
Don’t worry; a Schwarzenegger body doesn’t come easily. First, see your family doctor for a physical exam and some tips on getting started with an exercise program. Perhaps get some additional guidance from a trainer at the gym. Exercising and building your strength will give you more energy. You’ll feel great and relieve stress while you lose weight.
For more information of exercise and resistance training, see the following websites:
* My Fit Health and Fitness
* The Exercise and Physical Fitness Page of Georgia State University
* E-Medicine Health: Resistance Training
Please note: Consult with your physician or primary health practitioner before beginning any new exercise regimen.