What I want this year

It could be more muscle, it could be less worries, or how about more money? It’s none of the above. It’s actually something that I want for you. This year, I want you to gain 5 pounds. GAIN 5 lbs? Why on earth would I want you to gain weight?

The answer isn’t complicated.

As much as you might want to lose 10lbs, 20lbs or 50lbs, I want you to gain 5lbs.

Before you think I’m crazy, you need a little more detail.

And this brings up an interesting point. That when we talking about ‘losing weight’ or ‘gaining weight’, we’re talking about a measurement that was used by a insurance company to produce tables of averages, in the 1940s.

What we’re missing is the specific detail that makes all the difference.

There’s a big difference between losing 5lbs and losing 5lbs.

Or that is, there’s a big difference between losing 5lbs of fat, and losing 5lbs of muscle.

Well, of course, we don’t want to lose muscle, you might say, so it is assumed that we’re talking about losing fat. But not so fast, because we don’t generally measure fat loss, we measure weight loss.

Unless you’re getting regular skinfold tests, hydrostatic weighings, or other similar measurements, then you’re not measuring fat lost, you’re measuring weight lost. And those scales that tell you bodyfat percentage? Unfortunately they’re so inaccurate that your best guess would probably have the same level of accuracy. Likewise those things you hold in your hands.

So back to gaining 5lbs.

I want you to gain 5lbs of muscle this year. I think it’s more important than you losing 10lbs of fat.

And I can tell you some good reasons why.

Firstly, most of the time when we lose ‘weight’, we lose a blend of muscle and fat. Sometimes it is 50/50, other times it could be 70% muscle, 30% fat. Not great when you consider muscle burns energy, muscle is insurance against injury, and muscle decreases as we age (primarily because of inactivity, but also due to ages processes). All of these things mean that we want to preserve, and if we can, build the muscle we have, not lose it.

So what happens if you have 20lbs of fat to lose? Odds are that if you use a diet like slow carb, your first 20lbs of weight loss could be 3-5lbs water, 5lbs muscle and 10lbs fat. Change that if you’re working out to 2lbs muscle, 13lbs fat. Working out with heavy weights preserves muscle during weight loss.

But then where are you? If you were already at a point where your muscle levels weren’t ideal (and most people are below ideal), now you’re even lower. Your health could in fact degrade somewhat, rather than improve, as you might expect, by losing the fat.

And the long tail to this scenario is that if in the future you gain some weight, the odds are that it wil almost all be fat, not muscle, unless you are doing a weights program at the time. This is one of the reasons why the diet – gain weight – diet – gain weight cycle is so unhealthy.

And that’s why I want you to gain 5lbs this year.

If you can, I think you’d love to gain 10lbs.

I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t lose fat, or that you can’t. But I think it’s just as important to focus on gaining muscle if you can, because it’s amazing insurance for a healthy future.

So consider your weight loss equation a little differently this year – muscle to be gained = ?, and fat to be lost = ?. It might end up meaning that the scales don’t change for the whole year, but you could be a completely different person, with a completely different body.

So what do you think? Do you want to gain 5 or 10lbs this year?

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