Lose Fat Retain Muscle Over 60

Lose Fat and Retain Muscle: Weight Training is Best for Older Adults

A recent study has found that pairing a healthy diet with weight training is the best way to preserve muscle mass for older adults. Retaining muscle whilst losing weight is important to maintain strength and even burn calories when you’re watching TV!

Key Takeaways

  • Fat loss is increased when you combine dieting and exercise
  • Adding weight training alongside a diet can help retain muscle mass

The Study

Researchers at Wake Forest University studied 249 adults in their 60s over 18 months to assess whether aerobic exercise was the best choice for weight loss.

Participants were either overweight or obese and followed over an 18 month period. They were assigned calorie counted diets and split into three groups:

  • Diet only
  • Diet + walking
  • Diet + weight training

Key Findings

Exercise increases fat loss

The study found that participants who were following the diet only saw an average loss of 10 pounds of fat over the research period.

Those who were dieting + walking and dieting + weight training lost 16 pounds and 17 pounds respectively.

  Fat loss
Diet only 10lb
Diet + walking 16lb
Diet + weight training 17lb

Therefore, total fat loss is much greater when diet is combined with exercise.

Weight training helps retain muscle

However, the study also tracked the loss of muscle mass amongst the participants.

Muscle mass loss was surprisingly highest, at 20%, in those who walked as well as dieting - double the amount compared to those who incorporated weight training alongside the diet.

Dieting alone saw a muscle mass loss of 16%.

  Muscle mass loss
Diet only 16%
Diet + walking 20%
Diet + weight training 10%

It's very important to retain muscle mass, especially as we get older due to the increasing risk of physical disability.

Will weight training benefit you?

Absolutely, weight training does not mean you’re going to become the next Arnold Schwarzenegger!   

  • Weight training helps to maintain weight loss and even burn more calories. Every additional pound of muscle you gain, your body will burn around 50 extra calories every day!
  • You will develop better body mechanics – the way we move during daily activities - helping to avoid injury, keeping your spine healthy, and strengthening your core muscles. This is increasingly important as we get older as daily tasks can become a little more difficult.
  • You can reduce the risk of injuries.  Muscle training will strengthen not only your muscles but tendons and ligaments, making them more capable of withstanding any stress.

WLR have created this great infographic to show you all the benefits of weight training as well as cardio. It is important to incorporate both into your lifestyle for a good balance.

What you can do

  • Incorporate weight training into your routine. There are a lot of benefits to weight training, and retaining muscle strength; you can improve your metabolic rate as well as your bone health!
  • Join a gym, speak with instructors to learn how to use weights and resistance machines properly, to get the most out of your time spent in the gym.
  • Take up yoga, it’s a great way to lose weight as well as building up muscle and strengthening your core.
  • You don’t always need weights or a machine! You can easily start weight training at home using two cans of baked beans. If you do want to splash out you can buy some resistance bands, weights, or dumb bells.

If you'd like to start weight training at home, WLR have a variety of different worksout you can do:

Start a Free Trial Today

You can track your training, with the Weight Loss Resources exercise diary and database. You can see how many calories you burn and how many you consume. Try it free for 24 hours.

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Beavers, M. et al. 30th October 2017. Effect of Exercise Type During intentional Weight Loss on Body Composition in Older Adults with Obesity. Obesity Journal.

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