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Care New England Wellness Center
Care New England Wellness Center

More Questions & Answers

Q. I have been exercising and have lost inches but have not lost weight. I'm aware that muscle weights more than fat but how long does it take for me to lose weight after I have already lost inches?

A. First of all, you are on the right track. You have started the weight loss process by losing fat and gaining muscle. Muscle is more dense than fat and as you lose inches and the scale remains the same this means you are losing fat and this should be your goal. As you gain muscle you increase your basal metabolic rate (BMR) which is the minimum caloric requirement needed to sustain life in a resting state. Increasing your BMR will help in the weight loss process as well as help to maintain weight loss. There is no time frame for body weight loss, each individual is different so be patient and in time the scales will start to show a weight loss. The slower the weight loss, the more likely you will maintain it. The key to weight loss is consistency and persistence.

Q. I've heard that lifting weights is an important part of an exercise program when you're trying to lose weight. But how does weight training help with weight loss, isn't it really just a matter of calories in versus calories out? It seems like maybe I should focus my time and energy on cardiovascular exercise.

A. As a result of weight lifting you are increasing lean muscle mass which directly impacts your body composition as well as resting metabolic rate (RMR). An increase in lean muscle mass is associated with an increase resting metabolic rate because muscle burns more calories than fat. Increasing RMR increases the efficiency in which your body burns calories at rest in order to maintain vital body processes and accounts for 65-75% of your total daily caloric expenditure.

Additional benefits to strength training include:

  • an increase in bone mineral density
  • an increase in strength, balance and functional ability
  • an increase in stamina
  • improvements in sleep patterns
  • injury prevention
  • improved glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity

A weight loss training program as well as a maintenance program should include weight training as well as cardiovascular exercise.

Q. I've have a chronic hamstring injury from 10 years ago. What is the best treatment and do you believe there is such a thing as over-stretching?

A. First of all talk to your doctor about this chronic condition. If this condition is only muscle tightness, the best you can do is static stretching. There are several types of stretching. The most common are static stretching (safest) and ballistic stretching (less safe). In static stretching, you stretch the muscle until you start to feel the muscle pull. This is the main indication that you should stop the movement and hold it for 15 to 20 seconds. Ballistic type of stretching involves "bouncing" movements. In doing these types of movements, you tend to overstretch the muscle (going above your range of motion). This type of stretching is the one that produces more injuries. Your hamstring muscles are part of the "core muscles" (quadriceps, hip flexors, and abdomen) so it is a good idea to stretch and increase the strength in those muscles as well which will help to avoid lower back problems as well.

As in any acute muscle-tendon-joint injury (first 48 hours) use of cryotherapy (ice therapy for no more that 20 minutes) is a good idea. After the inflammation and pain have subsided the use of heat pads is recommended.

The recommendation for stretching is as follows:

  • stretch every day
  • one stretch per muscle
  • the stretch should be mild until you feel slight muscle tension, no pain
  • hold for 15 to 20 seconds

Q. Mid-day is usually a time when I need a little pick-me-up. Can you suggest some healthy, low-cal snacks to have on hand?

A. We recommend that healthy snacks include both protein and carbohydrate, and are limited to approximately 200 calories per snack. Healthy snacks can be an important part of a balanced meal plan and can ward off hunger. They help decrease portions at meals.

Try the following:

  • 6 oz. light yogurt with 1/2 cup high fiber cereal or granola
  • whole grain english muffin with 1-2 tbsp natural peanut butter (try a light muffin to save calories!)
  • lowfat cottage cheese with fruit (there is also low sodium cottage available at the markets)
  • carrots and hummus
  • celery or crackers with laughing cow light cheese
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