Cut the flab not the muscle

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Have you seen older individuals who regularly exercise and have lost weight, but who still have flab especially around the mid section?

A big concern for many people as they age is weight gain. There are many diets that can lead to weight loss, however, they may result in the loss of muscle. This is not good, especially as you age. As you get older the loss of muscle mass can affect mobility, strength impairment and accelerate the ageing process. Even doing aerobic exercise–while good on one level–will not build muscle. This becomes more pronounced when we superimpose the loss of bone density (osteoporosis). Much of this is related to a decline in hormones such as testosterone.

Testosterone is an important hormone both for men and women. A decline in testosterone levels as we age leads to a loss of muscle mass. This can really start to accelerate after age 40. Another effect of lowered testosterone is a decrease in libido for both men and women. In women, there is also the effect of lowered estrogen and progesterone levels with menopause.

Rather than taking testosterone supplements that can have side effects, you can do something which will stimulate its production, maintaining your muscle mass while burning fat. The solution is both weight training and eating lean.

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Weight training does not have to be extreme. We use dumbbells to work several groups of muscles. We do repetitions of each exercise and work the muscles to a state of fatigue. This results in small micro-tears in muscle fibres. This is not a bad thing, but rather it stimulates the production of testosterone that then builds up muscle. At the same time, it burns fat that you do not need.

It is important to differentiate between fats that you eat which are good for you and fat that accumulates around the mid-section. Eating processed foods which are “low fat” is not actually good for you. We do need wholesome foods which have some fats, including cholesterol because this is necessary for the proper function of the brain and nervous system.

We need to eat fruits, vegetables including plenty of legumes, nuts, very few grain/processed foods and plenty of lean protein including fish. These will give you a natural source of testosterone. Protein is essential to keep and build muscle.

Balance your body’s protein with weight training and smart eating. Focus on maintaining muscle mass and the weight will drop, plus you will look and feel better. As with all things regarding your health, consult with a health professional before commencing something new.


Are you trying to lose weight? What has worked for you? And what hasn’t? Share your stories below.