Whether your priority is to banish stubborn belly fat or sculpt toned legs that’ll carry you far in a marathon, we all exercise to reach the same goal: to create a body that we’re proud of. But is there a particular form you should be going for? Is it better to be skinny or strong, or both?
Needless to say, becoming either slimmer or stronger both have their benefits. If you’re getting slimmer, you’ll become more agile, less prone to ailments such as heart disease and depression and enjoy increased confidence. If you’re getting stronger, you’ll similarly feel more competent, in tune with your body and will even drop fat faster.
This is because once you’ve reached a healthy BMI and have lost all your excess fat, losing weight and becoming even smaller could then signify you’re losing muscle mass and water: both vital to your body’s overall health. Therefore, focusing on losing weight is only useful up until a point, whereas getting stronger and maintaining a toned body will keep you healthy and in form indefinitely.
In truth, the very best results come from focusing on the two goals together: becoming both skinnier and more muscled up. The two aren’t mutually exclusive – actually, they complement each other.
Why? Working on your muscles – which are metabolically active – helps to boost your metabolism, which then makes you shed fat faster. The leaner and stronger your muscles, the faster your metabolism and the more calories you burn during and after your gym session. This applies in the reverse, too. The weaker your muscles, the lower your metabolic rate, which can halt your slimming efforts.
To lose fat and gain muscle simultaneously, you need to be methodical. This is because you need to burn more calories than you consume to lose weight. But to get stronger, you need to have a high protein diet that’ll support the exercises you’re doing at the gym.
A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition illustrates this perfectly. Twenty men ate more protein on reduced calorie diets while doing high-intensity interval training six days a week, and ultimately both slimmed down and gained more muscle.
Replicate this in a safe and measured way by changing up your diet to include more protein (such as chicken, eggs and broccoli) and your workout to include both cardio and strength training. Compound exercises will also help – movements like squats, deadlifts and kettlebell swings – which focus on building muscle and burning fat simultaneously.
It’s totally possible to be skinny and strong, and the benefits are plentiful. For advice on how to get there faster, book a free trial with one of our personal trainers at your local EVO gym. You’ll get that toned and sleek physique in no time.