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Why building muscle is essential to lose weight

You are trying to lose weight, you google a couple of trendy diets, after which you pick the one that suits your lifestyle the most. Weight starts to come off, especially in the beginning, 1-2 kilos a week, and you feel confident that this will be an easy task.

By now, you already made 2 mistakes that will completely ruin your fat loss over a long term period. First, trendy diets are usually very restrictive in terms of food choices and in 99% times, you will end up malnutrition-ed, which will make you feel really weak and sluggish after a few months. This will make dieting even harder, which is why people get off the diet at the end, thinking hell is over, lets get back to the normal now.

The second mistake is no strength training to support your muscle growth. This is probably one of the most important elements of fat loss because muscles can speed up your metabolism and make your fat loss permanent. This way you do not have to eat 2 apples in a day to keep losing weight.

Total daily energy expenditure

To fully understand why you need muscle growth to speed up your metabolism lets look at what your energy expenditure is.

Total daily energy expenditure graph

By the laws of physics, to lose fat your energy expenditure needs to be higher than your energy intake. If we look at the chart above, basal metabolic rate takes up to 65% of your total energy expenditure, and this includes maintaining your muscles. The more muscles you have, the more energy your body spends. This is why muscles speed up your metabolism and why it makes it sustainable over a long term.


When you start to lose weight, your metabolism naturally decreases. There are several reasons behind this. First, you are eating less which means your digestion expenditure is less.

Secondly, as you get leaner and leaner, your activity level decreases. This is called spontaneous activity level. Your body is so efficient at survival that it will make your daily movement more efficient to reduce unnecessary energy expenditure. You will start to fidget less, and lean against the wall while waiting for an elevator. This can save a couple of hundred calories in a day, since your body thinks you are starving and there is no food.

And finally, if you lose muscle on top of this, this can lower your metabolism even further as it is part of the basal metabolic rate.

So what usually happens is after an incorrect weight loss, people get back to their normal diet, after which they start to rapidly gain all the weight back due to their slower metabolism. There is a huge caloric surplus caused by the slow metabolism, and as a result you get a yo-yo effect. You regain the whole weight back and some more on top of that.


To counter this effect, you need to include strength training in your plan. This will increase the muscle mass you have, and boost your metabolism. You should be going to the gym 3-4 times a week.

Second way to speed up your metabolism is by eating wholefoods with high fiber intake. Combination of fats, carbs and protein can increase your digestion expenditure all the way up to 25%. When it comes to fats, a mixture of monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, saturated and omega 3 oil will be optimal for the entire day. Omega 3 is particularly good as it can increase the thermic effect of a meal by 50%! A good guideline for the dosage is 2-3 g per day. This will help you feel strong and healthy, as fat intake directly affects your hormone levels.

Over time, you will build muscle mass and lose fat, which will shape your body to give you that Hollywood lean look. As a result, after finishing your weight loss, you will be able to eat even more than before when you increase your calories back to maintenance level. This is the goal with all of my clients when I work with them. We focus on longevity, and finding the sustainable way to keep the fat off for good.


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