Eating too much but staying lean thanks to strength training
If you work out vigorously with weights a few times a week, you can eat at McDonald's every day without getting fat. Swedish researchers at Linkoping University reported this in 2012 in the Scandinavian Journal of Clinical & Laboratory Investigation.
The researchers got 24 subjects to do strength training at least three times a week for an hour for 12 weeks. The subjects trained with weights that allowed them to do a maximum of 8-10 reps and did 3-5 sets per exercise.
Half of the men took a shake containing 33 grams of whey daily, in addition to their regular diet. The other half of the men consumed an extra meal from a junk food chain in addition to their regular diet. This extra meal provided 1350 kilocalories in the form of 51 grams of fat, 41 grams of protein and 182 grams of carbohydrates.
By the end of the 12 weeks, the fast food group had gained just as much lean mass and fat mass as the whey group.
Strength training increases lean body mass - say, the muscles. Muscles consume a lot of energy, especially if they are continuously broken down by training and then rebuilt by the body. The extra energy in the form of the fast food meals increased the resting metabolic rate - the amount of energy the body uses at rest.
The study does not give strength athletes a license to indulge in fast food. After all, the test subjects in the fast food group did not get any healthier. Their insulin sensitivity decreased [you can see that above], and their cholesterol balance also deteriorated.
Muscle mass and resting metabolic rate increased approximately equally in both groups. Because the fast food group consumed a lot more energy, you would expect it to become fatter as well. Although the fat mass in the fast food group increased slightly more than in the whey group, those differences were not significant. So there may be more ways in which strength training can increase calorie expenditure with an excess of kilocalories.
Which ways exactly? We do not know.
Scand J Clin Lab Invest. 2012 Oct;72(6):471-8.
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