The beach chair is back on a hook in the garage. The top is back up on the convertible. The grill is in the shed. A thousand great summer memories are just that now. Memories.
All the hard work paid off. You ate clean; you worked out like a true warrior. And man, you looked and felt great. You kept your eyes on the prize and you were rewarded.
So what happens now? Unfortunately, many people don't devote much thought to this. For many people, this time of year means being free of the diet and early morning workouts just in time for football season and the holidays. Sure as you can bet on the sun rising tomorrow, that plan of action will result in losing the muscle you gained and getting reacquainted with the excess fat you lost.
The statistics are sobering. Only one out of five people are considered successful at long-term changes in body composition . More so, three out of ten people gain back the fat they lose after one year and nearly all of them (95%) after five years . This is irrespective of how much fat they lost .
Is this going to be your fate? It doesn't have to be. An interesting study was just published from researchers at Wake Forest University that provided additional insight regarding losing weight and gaining it back. For starters, when people lose weight, around 20% of the weight lost is lean mass. Losses in lean tissue are closely associated with unfavorable changes in your metabolism (a slowing down of your calorie burning rate) and the older you are the more negatively muscle loss impacts your health. These changes during dieting explain a couple of things. First, research has shown that when a regular exercise program is incorporated along with a low-calorie diet the amount of muscle lost is decreased and if the exercise program contains a significant resistance training component, muscles losses are prevented to an even greater degree . Secondly, muscle losses during dieting explain why people are encouraged to follow a low-calorie with an increased proportion of protein. In fact, several studies have shown that eating a diet higher in protein by itself helps to prevent muscle loss and when exercise is added to a low-calorie diet higher in protein that muscle losses are prevented to the greatest degree [4, 5].
The End Result of Yo-Yo Weight Loss and Regain:
Cumulative Muscle Loss and Fat Tissue Gain
The Wake Forest researchers first had 95 women follow a five month diet program where they restricted their caloric intake by 400 calories each day and exercised three days per week. The average weight loss was around 25 pounds which was approximately 13% of their original body weight. Of the weight which was lost, approximately 18 pounds or 70 - 75% was fat and 7 pounds or 25 - 30% was muscle . The study participants were then released from the program and came back for testing 6 and 12 months after completing the weight loss program. On average not quite four pounds was regained after 6 months and eight pounds after 12 months.
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The most interesting aspect of this study was this: Of the weight which was regained, a larger proportion of it was fat and a meaningful proportion of the muscle which was lost during the dieting phase was never gained back . As mentioned before, around 30% of the initial weight which was lost was lost as muscle whereas only 12% of the weight which was regained was regained as muscle. While the authors were careful to point out this was one of the first studies, if this trend is characteristic of body composition changes during weight loss, repeated cycling of weight loss and regain may result in people getting fatter and losing muscle. Over the course of several years, this cycle of events will lead to a decrease in valuable, health-favoring muscle tissue and an increase in fat tissue. A sad state of affairs for sure and one which people must be prepared to take action to keep from happening.
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1) Don't let your workouts slide. A sound diet and regular exercise program isn't a spring and summer lifestyle. It doesn't begin on New Year's Day and end on Labor Day. Consistency is one of the primary characteristics people fail to prioritize regarding their diet and workout program. Get your work in every week. And remember, it's all about the weights. Cardio is great for burning calories and losing fat, but doesn't hold on to valuable muscle like weight lifting.
2) Eat more high quality protein. This is where products like Vectron and NytroWhey Ultra Elite become invaluable and should become daily parts of your regimen. Study after study shows that a high-quality whey protein with healthy doses of the essential amino acids, particularly leucine, is critically important to promote healthy weight loss, minimize muscle loss and promote improvements in strength and body composition. Vectron and Nytro Whey Ultra Elite are made from high quality whey protein isolate, and both contain exclusive formulations that contain exceptional amounts of the essential amino acids. NytroWhey Ultra Elite also contains an advanced hydrolyzed protein source ideal for jumpstarting muscle protein synthesis, as well as up to 4 times the leucine content found in other protein formulations.
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Vectron, on the other hand, is the first protein formulation to deliver a unique weight management system called Prolibra that is clinically proven to improve the ratio of lean mass to body fat. In an independent, randomized, double-blind, 12-week clinical trial commissioned by the makers of Prolibra and published in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, subjects who took 24 grams of Prolibra daily showed significant improvements in the ratio of lean mass to fat as compared to a placebo group. While other products focus on one side of the weight-loss equation, Vectron provides a double-edged attack by helping you reduce fat, while at the same time supporting your hard-earned muscle. Maintaining your ideal physique isn't easy, but products like Vectron and Nytro Whey Ultra Elite can be used to help increase the protein content in your diet and when combined with a modest resistance training program can maximize fat loss and prevent muscle loss.
Finally, the best way to prevent regaining the weight you lost is to never completely stop your dieting and exercise efforts as this will only result in you returning to your bad habits which got you there in the first place.
1. Methods for voluntary weight loss control. NIH Technology Assessment Conference Panel. Consensus Development Conference, 30 March to 1 April 1992. 1993. 119: p. 764-70.
2. Barte, JC, et al. Maintenance of weight loss after lifestyle interventions for overweight and obesity, a systematic review. Obes Rev, 2010. 11(12): p. 899-906.
3. Beavers, KM, et al. Is lost lean mass from intentional weight loss recovered during weight regain in postmenopausal women? Am J Clin Nutr, 2011. 94(3): p. 767-74.
4. Layman, DK, et al. A reduced ratio of dietary carbohydrate to protein improves body composition and blood lipid profiles during weight loss in adult women. 2003. 133(2): p. 411-7.
5. Layman, DK, et al. Dietary protein and exercise have additive effects on body composition during weight loss in adult women. 2005. 135(8): p. 1903-10.
6. McGuire, MT, et al. The prevalence of weight loss maintenance among American adults. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord, 1999. 23(12): p. 1314-9.
7. Nicklas, BJ, et al. Effect of exercise intensity on abdominal fat loss during calorie restriction in overweight and obese postmenopausal women: a randomized, controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr, 2009. 89(4): p. 1043-52.
8. Stiegler, P, et al. The role of diet and exercise for the maintenance of fat-free mass and resting metabolic rate during weight loss. Sports Med, 2006. 36(3): p. 239-62.