Health & Wellness

Add Weights to Your Weight-Loss Plan

Adding weight-training to a diet plan can help to maintain muscle while you drop fat

By Katrina Caruso

As we age, it gets harder to lose weight, while it becomes easier to lose muscle. With more fat on the body, burning calories becomes more difficult and gaining weight can happen more quickly; conversely, with more muscle on the body, it becomes easier to lose weight. So, losing weight while keeping muscle is the ideal goal for a fitness plan. But that can be difficult to achieve, because as we lose weight, some of that loss will be muscle.

In November 2017, a study was published in the journal Obesity that involved 249 sedentary overweight and obese women and men over the age of 60 for a year and a half. They were divided into three groups: the first followed a calorie-reduction plan (an average of 300 calories) but took no exercise, the second group reduced their calories and speed-walked four times a week for 45 minutes, and the third group cut calories and followed a resistance weight-training plan four times a week.

By the end of the study, all participants had lost weight. However, the three groups lost weight differently:

  • The first group (no exercise) lost an average of 12 pounds: two pounds of muscle (about 17% of their weight loss) and 10 pounds of fat (about 83% of their weight loss).
  • The second group (walkers) lost an average of 20 pounds: four pounds of muscle (about 20% of their weight loss) and 16 pounds of fat (about 80% of their weight loss).
  • The third group (weigh-trainers) also lost an average of 20 pounds, but they lost less muscle and more fat: only two pounds of muscle (about 10% of their weight loss) and 18 pounds of fat (about 90% of their weight loss).

So, while it might be tempting to try to drop weight simply by walking and cutting calories, you’ll be better off sweating a bit more while moving a little more.

Photo: iStock/Wavebreakmedia.