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Gaining Muscle

As many of you have heard me say during our visits together, my focus from a health standpoint, is not on your BMI, but rather, body composition.  The BMI is based solely on height and weight and does not take into account how much muscle, water and body fat is present.  As an example, an NFL football running back that is 5 feet 10 inches and 220 pounds has a BMI well over 30, hence by BMI definition is “obese”.  However, the football player could have a 5% body fat percentage, and hence, is incredibly fit, healthy and not at risk for the obesity-related co-morbidities such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer etc.

Our goal should be not just losing weight but changing the body composition to decrease body fat and simultaneously, build/gain muscle.  The gaining of muscle does not occur overnight although the loss of fat may occur much more quickly.  Gaining muscle requires a combination of two interventions: 1- resistance training 2- dietary changes.

From a resistance training standpoint, the amount of weight being lifted as well as the number of repetitions will help determine how much muscle can be gained during strength training.  It is very important to NOT start lifting more weights than you should, as another major goal is to NOT hurt yourself.  Having a personal trainer provide 1 or 2 consulting sessions will be well worth the expenditure to help place you on a safe and effective path to initiate strength training.

From a dietary standpoint, eating lots of proteins and consuming a moderate amount of fat will help build muscles.  Drinking lots of water, especially after work outs, also is important for the body to lay down more muscle.

Muscle does burn more calories than fat, so if you are able to gain muscle and lose body fat, this will then become easier to maintain the weight loss.

Please do not expect yourself to develop rippling muscles over time but with a prudent mix of resistance training and dietary changes, no matter what your age, muscle can be gained.

Exercise is the most common way to grow muscle, but it’s the chemical processes in your body that help you gain lean body mass. During conventional exercises, such as weight lifting, your muscle fibers sustain damage or injury. Your body then fuses these fibers to repair them, resulting in increased mass and size of your muscles.

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