Strength Training and High-Protein Diets Trump Cardio for Losing Weight

Personal trainers around London are helping clients lose weight with muscle-building exercises rather than grueling sweat sessions. Protein-rich diets are accelerating the results.

“Can I lose weight just by lifting weights?

Yes. You can.

It may not burn as many calories as a 30-minute treadmill slog, but it will help you develop lean, fat-burning muscle tissue, which requires more fuel (calories) for our bodies to maintain.

In a country where over 75% of the population has tried losing weight before, strength training is the new metabolism-boosting strategy that’s catching on with many Brits. It’s also becoming the new “go-to” approach for weight loss being used by personal trainers as the fitness industry continues to boom in England’s major cities like London, Manchester, and Canary Wharf.

As a Westerner, I’m admittedly a fan of all things London. Canary Wharf on the eastern end of London has always held a special allure. A beautiful city and a top destination for travelers, fitness is becoming the lifeblood of Canary Wharf with the city playing host to an array of state-of-the-art health clubs and the finest personal training services in the country.

A visit to any of these clubs and you’ll see that treadmills and ellipticals are increasingly being edged out in favor of resistance bands and kettlebells. One Canary Wharf personal trainer explains:

While cardio exercises like running are undoubtedly effective for losing weight, they can simultaneously reduce muscle mass leading to weaker muscle strength. That’s important to know because your muscle tissue is the key to burning calories. When you weaken muscle tissue, it impedes any progress you might make toward your weight loss goals.

That’s why strength training combined with a high-protein diet is overtaking cardio as a popular weight loss strategy. Frankly, it’s a strategy that works, and now it’s been verified...!

Here’s a list of the contributing factors driving the popularity of strength training as a weight-loss solution:

Burning Calories (and Body Fat), Even While You’re at Rest!

One distinct advantage that strength training has over cardio for anyone who wants to lose weight is the fact that our bodies are wired to continue burning calories long after we’ve finished our routines. It’s a natural part of our body’s recovery process that happens to also be very effective for helping you lose extra weight.

Here’s the science: Strength training activities inflict stress on our muscles causing microscopic tears. In the course of repairing this muscle tissue (using amino acids from the protein in our diets), our bodies burn additional calories as they work to develop new muscle tissue.

But the fat-burning benefits of strength training don’t end there. Muscle tissue also plays a vital role in our resting metabolic rate (RMR). RMR is a reference to how many calories our bodies are required to burn to sustain themselves while we’re at rest. Studies show that strength training is more effective in increasing our RMR rate than aerobic exercise alone.

Here’s a fun factoid: Did you know that fat is the body’s preferred energy source while it’s at rest? It’s true.

Eliminating Hunger Cravings by Regulating Blood Sugar

Another fitness professional told us that strength training can also help us combat pesky hunger cravings. That didn’t make much sense at first but consider this: when our bodies hold too much blood sugar in our bloodstream, we end up storing that excess sugar. – a major contributor to obesity. Strength training builds the lean muscle tissue we need to more effectively absorb or “soak up” this unused sugar and glucose. It’s a process that improves the “regulation” of our blood sugar levels and it goes far in helping us fight those cravings for sweets.

Strength Training Doesn’t Make You Bulky

Hoping for a toned and trim figure but are wary that strength training might make you appear too bulky or muscular? If so, you are not alone. Personal trainers and fitness professionals tell us it’s still one of the biggest misunderstandings about strength training – the misconception that it will cause you to gain weight or "bulk up."

While adding lean muscle tissue can cause that number on your scale to trend upward, that’s not necessarily a bad thing...” said one Canary Wharf personal trainer.

The truth is, if you’re building muscle tissue with strength training, eating rich sources of protein, and restricting calories, it’s essentially impossible to get too bulky.

Here’s an important fact: muscle tissue has a higher density than fat tissue. In other words, a single pound of muscle tissue takes up less space than the same amount of fat.

No Need for Heavy, Clunky Weights

For a lot of people who are new to the strength training scene, the first things that usually come to mind are clunky, heavy weights, and the need to spend money on new equipment. Fortunately, modern strength training techniques go much further than lifting heavy weights.

Let’s introduce a new term: resistance training. While not entirely synonymous with “strength training,’ it’s rapidly gaining popularity as a weight loss strategy so it’s a term worth knowing. Resistance training is an exercise routine that builds lean muscle mass by working your muscles against an external force.

If weight loss is your goal, but lifting weights isn’t of any interest, here are two resistance training options worth considering:

Bodyweight Exercises

Frankly, you can develop all the lean muscle tissue you need to burn off extra weight just by doing bodyweight exercises. These exercises use only your body weight as resistance – no kettlebells are required. By doing sets of push-ups, squats, lunges, or crunches, you can get a full-body workout just about anywhere you have a bit of room, including at home.

One Canary Wharf personal trainer we talked to said he often recommends to his clients that they learn to work with their body weight first before transitioning to weight-lifting equipment.

Resistance Band Exercises

Originally developed as a tool for physical therapy and rehab, resistance bands can offer a fun alternative to conventional free weights for building lean, fat-burning muscle tissue. They’re not only inexpensive and portable, but they’re also very effective in maximizing the results of your strength training. They achieve this through their elastic quality and the constant tension that is maintained throughout the entire exercise. It’s a dynamic that maximizes the “muscle engagement” of any exercises that are done using resistance bands.

Protein: The Macronutrient that Preserves Lean Muscle and Incinerates Fat!

To lose weight sustainably, you need to be in a calorie deficit. Hardly a shocker. But a high-protein diet can help turn your body into a calorie-burning machine by feeding your muscles with the fuel they need to grow. The leaner the muscle tissue in your body, the higher your daily calorie burn rate. Protein also has a higher thermic effect meaning it takes more calories to digest. Because of protein’s high thermic effect and its role in building lean muscle tissue, a high-protein diet can boost your metabolism which means burning more calories throughout the day, even while you're asleep.

Remember, a high-protein diet can increase daily calorie burn by as much as 200 calories! Combined with a consistent strength training routine, it’s becoming a bona fide strategy for losing weight and keeping it off!

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