February 20, 2022 by Lazer Brody
The first priority of health-seekers is losing excess body fat. By doing so, they’ll look better. Even more, they’ll be doing a tremendous favor for their heart.
Most people want to lose weight, and they want to do it effortlessly. There’s one major problem with “effortless” weight loss: one loses hard-earned muscle mass, and the strength and metabolic advantages that accompany it. That’s not something you want to do: muscles play a pivotal role in boosting our metabolism and immune systems, as well as increasing bone strength and actually facilitating weight loss. How? Muscles burn 250% more calories that fat does!
Victims of the “quick and easy weight-loss” fad diets have lost tons of weight. But if don’t exercise, their bodies will look like big empty burlap sacks draped on bone. At least when they were fat, their muscles had to work to carry the extra weight. But now, nothing. No muscle tone, just empty flab. Therefore, even if you’ve lost weight, it doesn’t mean that you’ve lost fat. And, if the loss was quick, you’ve probably lost muscle mass. What’s more, the bathroom scale doesn’t differentiate between fat and muscle.
A better (but not best) way to measure your body is to go by the breadth of your waistline (tightness of your clothes or the hole in your belt), rather than using the scale. The reason is that muscle is 22% more dense than fat. For example, two people might have the same height. They might even weigh the same. But strangely, one is chubby with a 38″ waistline and the other is fit with a 34″ waistline. The fit guy is much thinner than his flabby friend, but his muscle weighs more.
Amazingly, the best way to measure fat loss is to monitor your body-fat percentage. You don’t need a lab – you can do it at home quite accurately. There are all types of gadgets that do that, but in my experience, the simplest is the best. I’ve tried all different types gizmos, digital and otherwise, but the cheapest is also the most accurate. This is a simple manual body-fat caliper. This caliper is the one I use (like the one you see in the photo, above). It’s available on Amazon for a mere $5.00 – there’s nothing to lose except fat!
Although there are many systems of how and where to measure body fat, I have found that the most accurate one is the 3-Site Skinfold (Jackson & Pollock) Protocol. Read about it here, with instructions of how and where to measure body-fat. You’ll also find tables to interpret the data.
Modern fad diets lead to surrendering strategic and vital areas of the body. It’s no problem to lose weight – the body is willing to surrender muscle mass with ease; that’s not what we want! We want to burn fat.
So what do we do to burn fat?
Secular science goes to extremes and makes you crazy: T. Colin Campbell and The China Study will tell you to eliminate all fats, especially animal derivatives. Weston Price recommends the total opposite – a high animal protein and fat diet. What do you do?
Follow the Rambam’s timeless advice. I strongly recommend reading To Your Health by Rabbi Yechezkel Ishayek, who explains the Rambam beautifully and practically. Also, if you can, listen to a Torah-schooled personal fitness trainer who can help you apply the Rambam’s advice to your daily lifestyle. Here’s why:
Modern society has become so focused on weight loss that any weight loss seems to be good. It certainly is not. You look better and feel better when you increase your muscle-to-fat ratio. Adding muscle requires resistance training, eating quality protein and good HDL-producing fats. By exercising and increasing caloric intake, you gain weight big time without adding a millimeter to your waist or hips. In fact, your trousers or skirt fits better than ever.
The goal of healthy dieting is to improve body composition. That means raising the ratio of muscle to body fat. We do just that adding muscle and by losing fat without losing muscle tissue.
Maintaining and even increasing muscle mass is critical to weight control, because the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn. What’s more, as you exercise and add resistance/strength training to your routine, you can actually look thinner and have a smaller waistline, but the scale shows that you gained weight! How can that be? Simple – muscles take up less space in your body, so body weight may stay the same or even go up as you add compact, tight muscle mass. In density, muscle is 22% more dense than fat. In other words, if you’ve been doing strength and resistance training, your waist is thinner, your skirt or trousers fit great, you look and feel great, but you weigh more! Maybe at 145 lbs, you could only do 20 pushups, but now at 155, you can do 50! Yes, you weigh more but you’re much healthier. Keep on lifting and put the bathroom scale in the closet!
Forget about your weight and just be strong and healthy. If you want to focus on your diet and training progress, focus on your waistline and your levels of strength and flexibility. When you eat right – as natural as possible – and exercise, you’ll burn fat and build muscle anyway. Blessings for your great health!