Resistance exercise may not burn as many calories as aerobic, but it can support weight loss in other ways. Here’s how.
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) and other types of aerobic exercise get a lot of attention when talking about exercise for weight loss. But strength training — whether free weights or bodyweight-only — may help budge the number on the scale, too.
Can Strength Training Workouts Help With Weight Loss?
Like other forms of exercise, strength training challenges your body, which increases your calorie burn (compared with just sitting still). Weight loss happens when you burn more calories than you consume over a period of time. So if you pair strength training with a moderate calorie restriction, you may lose weight over time.
Speaking strictly about calories burned, aerobic exercise generally wins over strength training. According to estimates from Harvard Health, a 155-pound person burns roughly 108 calories in 30 minutes of general weight lifting. That same person burns 252 calories, cycling at a moderate intensity for the same time.
But strength training can bolster healthy weight loss beyond the simple equation of calories burned.
Research suggests that resistance or strength training is part of a weight loss program (along with calorie restriction or aerobic exercise) for overweight or obese adults, those interventions are more effective. That’s because strength training helps promote muscle growth, while reducing overall body fat, more evidence shows.
Typically, weight loss efforts (calorie restriction plus aerobic activity) cause people to lose muscle in addition to fat. But when you’re resistance training, you’re building muscle, so you’re preserving that strength while burning extra calories. Aerobic activities (running, jogging, cycling, and others) also strengthen the muscles you’re working, but generally less effectively than resistance training does.
The real benefit of strength training for weight loss lies in the maintenance of lean tissue.
In short: When you’re resistance or strength training as part of a weight loss plan, the pounds that you lose are more likely to come from fat mass than muscle mass — compared with weight loss plans that include calorie restriction alone or just calorie restriction and aerobic exercise.
What Does the Evidence Say?
Why do you tend to lose more fat mass than muscle mass when strength training is part of a weight loss plan? There’s the fact that you’re building muscle. Plus, muscle is metabolically active tissue that requires energy (calorie expenditure) to maintain. In contrast, fat does not, per a past report.
Losing muscle has the undesirable effect of lowering your resting daily calorie burn, which can lead to weight gain over time (unless you’re accordingly limiting calorie intake). In fact, muscle loss is a key reason many people gain fat as they age, according to past research.
Strength training can help you keep your metabolism up and prevent unwanted fat gain.
In a systematic review and meta-analysis published in September 2021 in Sports Medicine, researchers gathered data from 58 research papers that used highly accurate forms of body measurements like body scans (these differentiate between fat mass and lean mass). Their findings reveal that people in the studies lost an average of 1.4 percent of their total body fat after five months of only strength training.
Those results are similar to how much you might lose through cardio. The strength training programs differed between studies, but participants trained for roughly 45 to 60 minutes per session, an average of 2.7 times per week.
More importantly, the muscle you build through strength training helps your body use nutrients from food. When you contract skeletal muscles, they secrete myokines, proteins that help with directing and partitioning fuel like carbohydrates (glyocgen and glucose).
Research shows that resistance training improves insulin resistance, which when your cells don’t respond to insulin, a hormone your pancreas makes to help regulate blood sugar levels. When your body can’t respond to insulin, your body has to make more, causing insulin levels to stay elevated. Elevated insulin levels can result in weight gain and diabetes, per the Cleveland Clinic. By extension, improving insulin resistance may help with weight loss and weight maintenance.
Read the full article here: https://www.everydayhealth.com/fitness/is-strength-training-good-for-weight-loss/