Resistance Train Your Muscles Into Nutrient Sponges

If you’re like most people, chances are you’ve recently looked in the mirror and felt frustrated with what you saw.  If you’ve ever used the internet or watched TV, then you’ve most likely been bombarded with pictures of men and women with near-perfect bodies.  Mass media can play games with your head, and force you to ask questions like, “How come I don’t look like THAT?”

Beyond appearance, having a toned and fit body has numerous internal effects that simply can’t be seen from the outside.  Sure, having toned shoulders and a nice chest looks great in the mirror, but what is it doing for your liver?  Your brain?  Your pancreas?

The truth is this: muscle is an organ that can make or break your metabolism.

Aesthetics aside, muscle is an extremely malleable tissue whose shape, size, function and metabolic nature is completely under your control.  And that means that you – as the sole operator of your biological machine – can manipulate your muscle to look and feel exactly the way you want, both for aesthetic purposes and for long-term metabolic health.

Your Muscles are Nutrient Sponges

For the past decade, I’ve been a huge advocate of focusing on muscle health to delay or prevent the onset of many chronic conditions like heart disease, cancer and diabetes.  At first, I believed that exercise was only good for you because it made your heart pump faster, not because it benefitted your biceps, quads or glutes.

But the more I read, the more I began to realize that developing strong, flexible and efficient muscle tissue provides benefits to tissues all across your body through one simple process:

Chronic diseases are associated with an excess supply of carbohydates, fats and proteins.  Actively exercised muscle tissue acts as a nutrient sponge to “suck” nutrients out of the blood and prevent against the accumulation of excess energy.

Are You Skinny Fat?

There are two general classes of exercise training – cardiovascular exercise and resistance exercise.  Both forms of exercise have beneficial effects on the way you look and the health of every organ system in your body.  Yes, exercise benefits your musculoskeletal system, but it also benefits your central nervous system, your digestive system, your cardiovascular system and your immune system (to name a few).

In general, women are averse to the concept of strength training, out of a fear that they will look like a body builder if they start lifting weights.  Women are especially prone to this fear, and in an effort to maintain a petite body they refrain from strength training at all costs.

If you’re one of these people, then your exercise routine may contain a significant amount of cardiovascular exercise, and little to no resistance exercise.  The problem with the “cardio only” approach is simple:

No resistance training means no muscle development. No muscle development means little fat burning. Little fat burning means unwanted weight gain over time and an unusually high body fat percentage.

The process looks like this, and can lead to a body that looks and feels suboptimal:

resistance-training-flow-ch

This is exactly what the condition “skinny fat” refers to – an individual who maintains a skinny appearance but has an unusually high proportion of body fat that causes underlying metabolic distress and sets the stage for future chronic conditions like diabetes, cancer and heart disease.  The skinny fat condition often leads people to perform more cardiovascular exercise and eat less, exacerbating the condition altogether.

Resistance Training is the Most Effective Way to Lose Fat

It may sound counterintuitive, but by working the muscle tissue to develop strength via resistance training, muscle tissue becomes very hungry for carbohydrates, protein and fat both during and after exercise.

It is the post-exercise state that burns the most fat.

In the resting state, muscle tissue that is actively repairing itself from the stress of resistance training is constantly burning fuel to provide energy for the recovery process.  That fuel can either be carbohydrates, protein or fat.  The muscle is always burning a combination of all three fuels, and tends to prioritize fat oxidation (“fat burning”) in the resting state in order to preserve stored carbohydrate (glycogen) for use during the next exercise session.

If your body already has excess fat, you can expect your muscle tissue to burn that fat to aid in the repair process.  Just 1 hour of resistance exercise promotes upwards of 23 hours of “fat burning” muscle repair.  Now that’s an incredible ratio.

Performing only cardiovascular exercise on the other hand can block your ability to burn fat.  The reason for this is simple:

Cardiovascular exercise does not create a need for the same degree of repair work as does resistance training.  Even though the muscle must repair in preparation for the next round of exercise, the muscle’s reliance on fatty acids to fuel the repair process is not as large, resulting in less fat burning in the resting state.

More repair = more fuel consumed = more fat burned.

For these reasons, I recommend that all my clients perform majority of their exercise routine in the form of resistance exercise.

60% of Your Exercise Routine Should Consist of Resistance Training

The take home message is simple – capitalize on the fact that your muscles act as nutrient sponges, and resistance train your way to an optimal body.

It’s actually easier than you may think.

About The Author

Cyrus Khambatta

Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 22, I have spent over a decade learning the fundamentals of nutrition at the doctorate level. My goal is to share my knowledge of practical nutrition and fitness with people with prediabetes, type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Diabetes is an OPPORTUNITY to attain excellent health. Reversing the effects of insulin resistance can be a fun and enjoyable process if the right system is in place. That's why I've spent over 10 years developing a rock solid system that can minimize blood glucose variability and insulin resistance.

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