Research Review: Fat Loss For Seniors

Study, Weight Loss Add comments

This is an interesting study that helps to highlight the difference between WEIGHT loss and FAT loss.

(Losing fat will change your appearance and improve your health much more than just losing “weight”)

Scientists at the University of Rhode Island showed that weight training plus diet help seniors lose almost nine pounds of fat, while a diet-only group lost less than one pound of fat in the same time span.

For this study the researchers separated 27 overweight and obese seniors into two groups.  The first group followed the 10 week Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet.

The second group followed the DASH diet plus moderate intensity resistance training.

Now, I’m not a huge fan of the DASH diet – there are too many grains and modified dairy products, not enough healthy proteins, and too many fruits and not enough vegetables for weight loss and lowering heart disease risk.  That said, following ANY kind of structured diet will give you better results than just “winging it.”  On to the study results…

Even though the study says there was no significant difference in weight loss between the two groups, look at the numbers:

Diet only: 2 kg (4.4 pounds) lost

Diet plus strength training: 3.6 kg (7.92 pounds) lost

I’d say that losing almost twice as much weight is a “significant difference”!

Time for the body fat loss results:

Diet only: 0.2 kg (.44 pounds) lost

Diet plus strength training: 4.1 kg (9.02 pounds) lost

So… adding strength training to the diet resulted in eight and a half pounds more of FAT loss!

And finally, what were the differences in lean mass gains?

Diet only: 1.4 kg (3.08 pounds) of muscle LOST

Diet plus strength training: 0.8kg (1.76 pounds) of muscle GAINED

Since this study was done on seniors, I just want to point out that lean muscle is extremely important for a higher quality of life.  It is more independence, faster metabolism, less risk of injury, and greater protection from neural degeneration to have more lean muscle.

Oh, both groups improved their 400m (lap around a track) time, but the diet-only group got weaker while the diet+training group got stronger.

What we can see from this study is that purely focusing on diet and “weight loss” is not going to be as effective as diet, resistance training, and focusing on “fat loss.”

Here is the reference:

Eur J Appl Physiol. 2010 Feb 19. Effect of moderate intensity resistance training during weight loss on body composition and physical performance in overweight older adults. Avila JJ, Gutierres JA, Sheehy ME, Lofgren IE, Delmonico MJ.

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