Lifting Weights Has Its Benefits, But Not For Weight Loss

Too much targeted activity may interfere with weight loss

The presence of those weights under your office chair serve as a daily reminder to tone your arm muscles and develop your upper body strength. While these are important benefits, don’t depend on these tools for weight loss.

In general, targeted weight loss is a myth, somewhat perpetuated by advertisements that claim to transform flab into “arms of steel.” Studies show that targeting exercise to one area that you would like to reduce is mostly ineffective. In fact, too much exercise may actually interfere with your ability to lose weight. Some people’s metabolism will kick into “calorie conservation mode” during vigorous exercise. This is your body’s way of conserving its own valuable resources. The bottom line is, lifting weights and doing stomach crunches are good for strengthening and toning the arms and abdominal muscles, but they will not result in actual weight loss.

Study reveals surprising results about “targeted” weight loss

Researchers at the University of Connecticut put this theory to the test when they assessed the amount of subcutaneous fat in the arms of 104 participants before and after a 12-week resistance training program. The participants’ non-dominant arm was exercised for 12 weeks. Afterward, any fat loss was found to have occurred equally throughout the body rather than being concentrated on the exercised arm. The researchers concluded that because of the way that stored fat is chemically mobilized, the energy that comes from fat is released from fat cells that are located throughout the body, not just one region.

Certain factors influence where that fat tends to be stored in the first place. And yes, to a great extent, genetics influence whether you store fat in your thighs, belly, buttocks or elsewhere. Other factors play a role, too. For example, people who store fat primarily in the abdominal area are more likely to suffer from stress. In fact, a Yale University study found that even slim women were likely to have belly fat if they felt “stressed out” on a regular basis. This is because stress activates the hormone cortisol, which has more receptors in abdominal fat than in fat located in other areas of the body.

So while stomach crunches and weights are great for toning, the very best way to regard weight loss is holistically and by eating a balanced diet that includes whole, unrefined foods. Doing so will moderate your blood sugar so that fewer calories are stored as fat. And if you exercise moderately on a regular basis, your “problem areas”—no matter where they are—will begin to slim down.

Dr. Anthony Rivano, of Florham Park in Morris County, NJ understands that weight plays a big role not only in how people feel, but how they feel about themselves. For a highly personalized assessment about your diet and exercise needs, schedule an appointment with him by calling 973-845-6282.