Fit Thursdays: Muscle VS Fat - Why You Should Throw Out Your Scales!
Personal Trainer Elaine Delaney explains the real reasons why having a higher muscle mass is great for our overall health and wellbeing, as well as why weighing yourself is just mental torture.
Muscle VS Fat
Have you ever heard of muscle weighing heavier than fat? Are you sweating it out in the gym but somehow every time you stand on the scales your weight never seems to change? The simple fact is muscle and fat both weigh the same amount. A kilogram of muscle will always weigh the same as a kilogram of fat. A kilogram will always weigh a kilogram but the benefits of muscle will always outweigh fat.
Women generally carry excess fat around their hips and are often described as having a pear shaped figure whilst men are prone to carrying excess fat around the abdominal region i.e. an apple shaped body. Carrying excess fat especially around the abdominal region can lead to various health problems including diabetes, heart disease, joint problems, lack of mobility, high blood pressure and high cholesterol to name a few.
Get off the scales
Are you struggling to lose weight? Are you frustrated when you step off the bathroom scales? The good news is your bathroom scales are not an accurate method of monitoring your progress. You may not be losing weight but you could possibly losing body fat and gaining muscle. Body girth is a more complete method to assess progression as muscle is more dense than fat. A kilogram of fat takes up 3-4 times more space than a kilogram of muscle. So take out those jeans you bought last year, that still have the labels attached and use them as an indicator of your progression instead of the bathroom scales.
What is body girth? Body girth is a measurement of the circumference of various parts of the body. There are 9 parts of the body where girth can be measured:
- Forearm: At the maximum width of your forearm with your arm extended in front of your body and your palm up.
- Arm: Midpoint between your shoulder and elbow with your palm up and your arm straight and extended in front of your body.
- Shoulders: At the maximum width around your shoulders and upper torso
- Chest: Around the upper torso just below your armpits.
- Waist: At the narrowest point between your ribs and hips after exhaling.
- Abdomen: One inch above your navel.
- Hips: At the maximum width of your hips (or buttocks).
- Thigh: At the maximal width of your thigh with your legs slightly apart.
- Calf: At the maximum width between your knee and ankle.
It is important to use the same protocol when measuring body girth to monitor progression. Don’t forget to measure both the left and right hand side of the body.
Waist to hip ratio
Waist to hip ratio is the most important body girth measurement as it is an indicator for various health issues. It can estimate the fat distribution in your body. Simply measure the girth of your waist and hips in centimetres and divide the result obtained from your hips into the result obtained from your waist e.g. (waist= 90 cms/ hips= 100 cms) = 0.9.
If your result is 1 or above, the risk of developing chronic health issues including diabetes and heart disease are significantly higher.
Build muscle for better health
Muscles are responsible for the movement, protection of the body and essential for everyday living. Did you know that at rest, 500 grams of muscle will burn an extra 50 calories per day in comparison to fat? There are many benefits of having a higher muscle mass including:
- Reduces the risk of injury
- Less pressure on joints
- Increases energy levels
- Makes you stronger
- Improves body composition
- More confidence
- Reduces risk of developing chronic disease
- Improves technique
- Increase metabolism
- Improves insulin control
Want to learn the techniques to blast more fat?
Next week’s article will incorporate the best exercises to target body fat and help you obtain your fitness goals. So remember ditch those bathroom scales put on your favourite jeans and feel fabulous.