Each year, 45 million Americans go on a diet, many in pursuit of that often held goal: to lose weight. For people new to fitness, it might seem like this is the best way to take control of your health and achieve the body you want fast: losing weight can reduce your risk of serious health problems like heart disease and diabetes. However, if you’re serious about getting healthier, it’s best not to be concerned with weight loss. The reasons for this might surprise you.
What’s wrong with weight loss alone?
Looking at how much you weigh is too narrow a measure to use when you’re assessing how fit you are. If you’re getting in better shape, the excess fat you might have will be replaced with muscle. However, muscle weighs more than fat, so a lack of a decrease or even an increase in pounds of weight doesn’t necessarily mean you’re actually failing at your diet.
Moreover, although, as mentioned above, weight loss is correlated with a lower risk of certain diseases. However, other factors are actually causing this correlation, such as levels of fitness and nutrient intake. Therefore, it’s crucial to take other metrics into account when deciding on fitness goals.
What should I look at instead?
If you’re set on ‘looking less fat’, then consider calculating your body fat percentage. This is a measure of what proportion of your total body weight is fatty tissue: the substance which can builds up under the skin and gives the impression of a person being overweight. Unlike BMI, it accounts for the weight of muscle described above, which can lead to a person being wrongly defined as overweight.
If you’re not so bothered about fat loss, look for fitness programs and personal trainers advocating strength training as well as weight loss. A toned physique requires strength training alongside a lower body fat percentage. Also consider whether that crash diet will be the best thing for you in the long run. After all, the average person gains 11 pounds for every diet they go on, so it might be better to just focus on regular healthy eating.
Fighting fit, not pounding poundage
An obsession with weight can seem to be everywhere, whether it’s an protein powder ad urging you to drop a dress size before the summer, or even in the very name of some leading companies focusing on fat loss. However, choosing other metrics like body fat percentage or muscle gains is a better way to create a more healthy you. If you’re serious about getting in fine fettle, stop using those bathroom scales!