When you are trying to lose weight, every pound down on the scale is exciting. It’s an affirmation that what you are doing is working.
Or is it?
If the goal is just to lose weight, regardless of your health or how your body feels or functions at the lower weight, then yes, it is working.
But if your reasons for losing weight are to feel and function better, be healthier, live longer and look better, research is affirming the scale is not the best tool.
Weight loss can be up to 30% muscle loss. This the weight loss you don’t want! It turns out, muscle is more about our health and longevity then we ever thought. Here is some of the recent research backed connections between muscle loss and health:
- Joint Replacement: Patients who had less muscle mass had more complications, slower wound healing, increased risk of infections and longer recuperation after total knee replacement surgery.
- Cancer: Patients who had lower levels of muscle mass had reduced ability tolerance of treatment. Patients with less muscle mass having surgery for colon cancer had a higher incidence of both blood transfusion and complications after surgery.
- Gastric Sleeve: Patients with lower muscle mass were at greater risk of a leak after having a sleeve procedure for weight loss.
- Osteoporosis: The loss of bone and muscle have a huge impact on how a person ages. Researchers now know that there is a strong connection between loss of muscle and loss of bone. Researchers are asking we think of muscle loss and bone loss one disease because they know that increasing muscle mass has a direct effect on improving bone mass.
- Others: Reduced muscle mass has been connected to increased risk of falling, bone fractures, reduced longevity, fatigue, arthritis, as well as emotional health including depression, anxiety, and social isolation.
The medical name for muscle loss is Sarcopenia and it is now considered a disease. However, this is not the kind of disease a medication can fix. Muscle, like the rest of your body is a use it to keep it commodity. The way to keep it, or get it back if you lost it is through strength training exercise.
How do you know if you are losing muscle? Well, that is part of the problem. Measuring muscle mass has not been quite as convenient as getting on the scale. Fortunately, researchers have found there is an easier way to test muscle loss. Its called a hand grip test. It is strongly connected with how much muscle mass you have. No tool is perfect, but this is one of our best ways to know if you are holding on to your muscle mass as you age and as you lose weight.
Soon, we will be incorporating this test as part of our measurements before and after weight loss surgery to give you another number to see how you are doing. Since the connection between muscle mass and health has the potential for being a reliable measurement of true progress with weight loss for health, these numbers are ones to pay attention to as you lose weight.
Keep Moving, Be Well