Why Exercise is Necessary for Losing Weight…And Preserving Muscle!

By: Yuri Elkaim, BPHE, CK, RHN


Losing weight boils down to creating a negative energy balance. This means that you are expending more calories than you are consuming.

For example, if you eat 2000 calories and expend 2500 calories per day, then you will have created a negative energy balance of 500 calories. Since 3500 calories equal one pound of fat, it follows that, at this rate, you would lose 1 lb of fat in just 7 days.

Typically, most people would rather restrict their caloric intake then make exercise a daily part of their lives. If this doesn’t apply to you then that’s great. Again, this is just a tendency that I’ve personally observed.

The problem with only “dieting” in order to lose weight is that it doesn’t prevent the loss of muscle. If you weigh 200 lbs and go on a diet and lose 50 lbs, that’s great! However, what type of weight have you lost? Have you sacrificed your muscle mass due to not exercising? Most likely YES!

What’s the point of losing weight if you waste away your muscle? After all, muscle is the most metabolically active tissue in the body, which means that it is responsible for burning calories. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn. It’s that simple.

Research has also shown this to be true. A study in the International Journal of Obesity examined how exercise training influenced the composition of diet-induced weight loss. The groups did not differ with respect to either the amount of body weight lost or fat mass lost.

However, exercise training significantly reduced the amount of body weight lost as fat-free mass (ie. muscle) compared to dietary restriction only. The percentage of weight lost as fat-free mass for diet-plus-exercise subjects was approximately half of that for “diet only” subjects.

What this study shows us that exercise plus diet is the most effective method for losing weight while preserving muscle! Diet alone just doesn’t cut it.

Just as astronauts lose bone and muscle mass due to lack of gravity (ie. weight bearing activity), so too can you if you don’t provide your body with the appropriate stimulation. The old saying “use it or lose it” is so true.

So, if you want to lose weight, you need to use your weight. A little for thought. By moving your body and using your bodyweight (or external weights) as resistance, your body naturally adapts by getting stronger while shedding unneeded fat. Remember, being overweight or obese is not natural. Once you start making exercise a daily activity, you will find that the “excess” weight (and fat) will simply melt away!

But if you really want to lose weight fast and preserve your muscle then get started with Fitter U – possibly the most innovative fitness program you’ll ever come across in helping you lose weight and getting in great shape!


BALLOR D. L. ; POEHLMAN E. (1994) Exercise-training enhances fat-free mass preservation during diet-induced weight loss : a meta-analytical finding. International Journal of Obesity; 18 (1): p. 35-40.


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