Thursday, July 15, 2010

Resistance training in overweight women on a ketogenic diet conserved lean body mass while reducing body fat

The general prescriptions for fat loss is exercise more, and eat less. It’s a simple formula, unfortunately the success rate with this prescription is very low long term, and in order to achieve your fat loss goals you will require more details than simply ‘exercise more, and eat less”. My main focus is to teach you the most effective ways to lose fat, which is why I’m delighted to share with you the following study, which details some of the more effective strategies that can, and should be used to achieve your fat loss goals.

In a recent study from Norway, 16 overweight woman between the age of 20 and 40 took part in a 10 week resistance training program in combination with either a regular diet (Ex) or a low carbohydrate, ketogenic diet (Lc + Ex) to compare the effects on body weight and body composition. The percentage of energy from carbohydrates, fat and protein was 6, 66, and 22 respectively in the (Lc + Ex) group and 41, 33, 17 in the Ex group. No restrictions were made regarding energy content, fat, and protein or fatty acid composition. The only restriction was on carbohydrate intake until ketone bodies were detectable in the urine, to ensure the subjects were in a ketogenic state. Participants were told they can consume unlimited amounts of meats, fish, eggs, cheeses, margarines, butter, and oils. Participants were told to limit their carbohydrate intake to less than 20 grams per day until ketosis is achieved, and then they could add low carbohydrate food at their convenience as long as they maintained ketones in the urine.

All participants have not participated in regular resistance exercise during the previous 6 months. Eight resistance exercise machines were used that trained all the major muscles groups in the body. For the first 5 weeks of the study, all exercises were performed with a weight that was equal to 12 repetition maximum with 3 sets performed for each lower body exercise and one set for upper body exercises. After the initial 5 weeks, the resistance load was increased to 8 repetitions maximum and one additional set added to the upper body exercises. Rest periods between sets throughout the study were approximately 90 seconds.

The results: all subjects in the low-carbohydrate exercise group (Lc + Ex) lost weight (5.6 ± 2.6 kg of fat mass) with no significant change in lean body mass, while the regular diet group (Ex) gained 1.6 ± 1.8 kg of LBM (p = 0.045) with no significant change in fat mass (average loss of 0.6 kg of fat mass). This study proves that resistance exercise can be a valuable tool for fat loss, and in my opinion, due to the fact that resistance training can protect your muscles during a catabolic phase of dieting, it should be a part of everyone’s exercise program. In the future, I will explain why some loss of LBM is to be expected, and some of the negatives associated with that, but with proper planning, LBM loss can be minimized, and even prevented. There was no loss of LBM in this study in either group. Some scare tactics used by some scientists and organizations such as the American Heart Association (AHA) tells us that high protein / low carbohydrate ketogenic diets cause a loss of LBM, and have negative cardiovascular consequences. Obviously these organizations are not worried about our health, or simply choose to ignore the scientific literature that has proven decades ago that ketone bodies are indeed anti-catabolic, and that ketogenic diets is a safe, and effective way of losing weight, promoting non-atherogenic lipid profiles, lowering blood pressure and improving fasting blood glucose levels. Don’t let people sway you from the truth. Science has shown repeatedly that resistance training can protect our vital muscle tissue during time of stressful situation. Science has also shown that calorie restricted diets high in carbohydrates cause a massive loss of lean muscle tissue, and that ketogenic diets have a sparing effect on LBM. The more you restrict your carbohydrate intake, and increase your consumption of healthy fats and essential proteins, the more successful your fat loss efforts will be.

In future blogs I will expand on this study, show you where some of the protocols were suboptimal, and how we can maximize the training and diet strategy to achieve the fastest rate of fat loss, and adding healthy lean muscle at the same time. If you have any questions please contact me at

Jabekk PT, et al. Resistance training in overweight women on a ketogenic diet conserved lean body mass while reducing body fat. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2010 Mar 2; 7:17.

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