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Learning the difference between fat and lean muscle mass can be essential for creating a diet or fitness routine that will provide healthy, sustainable, and beneficial weight loss.
Achieving a lower level of body fat can improve energy levels and decrease the risk of developing a number of potentially serious health conditions. Learning the difference between fat and lean muscle mass can be essential for creating a diet or fitness routine that will provide healthy, sustainable and beneficial weight loss. But diets and workout routines that produce weight loss by stripping away lean muscle may have a number of detrimental long-term health effects. Burning fat and losing lean muscle mass will both result in lower numbers when standing on a scale, but the numbers may mean very different things.
What is Lean Muscle?
Lean body mass is described as being everything in the human body that is not fat. Lean muscle tissue is a related concept commonly used to describe muscle tissue growth and weight gain that does not relate to fat. Lean muscle may be thought of as muscle tissue that is independent of bone, fat, and tissues. When a person has achieved the “toned” look, it’s because they’ve decreased their body fat percentage and increased their lean muscle mass.
What is Fat?
Fat is comprised of a loose connective tissue that serves to store energy and insulate the body. The word “fat” has a negative connotation, but fat is important for our survival. No human is able to reach zero percent percentage of body fat and live. However, the right amount of body fat is key here: too little fat is just as dangerous as too much. Health risks associated with high levels of body fat may include cardiovascular issues, reduced sleep quality, and greater risk of injury to joints. With body fat percentage—just as in everything—balance is truly the key to health.
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Calculating Fat Levels with a Body Mass Index
A body mass index (BMI) is a tool used to calculate body fat levels and determine the percentage of lean body mass. While a reduction of either fat tissue or lean body mass can produce weight loss, diets that impose severe caloric restrictions and too much exercise may have detrimental effects. A healthy balanced diet that provides the body with the essential nutrients and calories it needs to stay active and healthy as well a fitness program designed to reduce fat levels without inhibiting the growth of new muscle tissue are essential for safe and effective weight loss.
Creating the Right Weight Loss Plan
Both cardiovascular and strength training exercises may aid in weight loss. Creating and maintaining a fitness program that will optimize fat loss and enhance muscle growth is often the best approach to take for ensuring healthy sustainable weight loss. A balanced approach to fitness has much to offer. Aerobic exercises burn calories that the body might otherwise turn into fat cells while strength training exercises that build lean muscle mass can increase metabolic function. What that means is that doing cardio burns calories, but that calorie burn only continues during the workout and a short while after. Strength training, on the other hand, builds muscle that increases metabolic function, so lifting weights can result in increased calories being burned all day long.
The Numbers Don’t Matter
A common mistake people make when trying to achieve weight loss is to assume that a lower number on the scale means that fat has been burned off. Maybe, but it could also mean that muscle has been lost. Muscle is much denser than fat, so if you’re lifting weights, you may not see a reduction in your body weight while your overall appearance looks more toned. It’s also possible to see a drastic physical change without seeing any change on the scale.
Diet and Nutrition
When it comes to weight loss, staying active and getting plenty of exercise is only half the equation. The right diet is often just as important as a fitness regime. There are numerous diet plans designed to burn fat and promote muscle growth. Dietary philosophies can differ drastically, and different approaches may produce varying results depending on any number of issues. Working with a professional nutritionist or a personal trainer can be beneficial. Those with underlying medical conditions should also speak with their doctor before starting an exercise program or making major changes to their diet.
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