Has your dramatic weight loss resulted in an appearance of loose, flabby skin? This is a common occurrence when a large amount of weight is lost through crash dieting, extreme calorie restriction (i.e. less than 1,200 calories per day), or excessive amounts of cardiovascular exercise. This is a 2-fold problem that involves: 1) Fat tissue loss, and 2) Lean muscle tissue loss. Why does this happen?
Let’s begin with the role of fat tissue. Fat tissue is packed in between skin and lean muscle tissue. When there is an excess of fat tissue growth during weight gain, the skin stretches in order to accommodate it. After weight loss has occurred the skin that once surrounded the fat tissue remains stretched giving it a loose, flabby appearance. This problem is amplified when lean muscle tissue is not preserved during weight loss (click here to learn more about lean muscle tissue).
Over 50 percent of the body is comprised of lean muscle tissue, which contributes to the body’s shape and form. Connective tissue anchors muscle tissue to the skin. When muscle tissue is developed and toned, the surrounding skin tightens. However, if muscle tissue is not developed or maintained, especially during weight loss, the skin becomes loose and flabby.
If an excessive amount of cardiovascular activity is performed while dieting to lose weight, muscle tissue will surely be lost. This occurs because muscle tissue is made up of protein which is not meant to be used as a source of caloric energy during rest or exercise (click here to learn about the role of protein in weight management). Therefore, when one trains hard and/or restricts calories, the body will sense starvation and use protein within the muscle tissue for caloric energy. As a result, more muscle tissue is lost compared to fat tissue enhancing the flabulous look.
So how do you avoid the appearance of loose, flabby skin during weight loss? Here are 3 tips:
Tip 1: Avoid rapid weight loss techniques at all costs. Weight loss exceeding 8 to 10 pounds per month will absolutely result in a loss of lean muscle tissue and enhance the appearance of loose, flabby skin. Aim for caloric deficits of no more than 500 to 1,000 calories per week through a combination of modest calorie restriction and exercise (click here to learn why).
Tip 2: Make resistance training a part of your weight loss program. If you do not use your lean muscle tissue, you will lose it. Coupling your cardiovascular exercise routine with a resistance training program involving light to moderate loads (weights), a greater number of repetitions (12 to 20+) and very short rest periods between sets (30 to 60 seconds) can enhance your weight loss while maintaining your lean muscle tissue (click here for information about exercises, sets, reps, and other resistance training fundamentals).
Tip 3: Ensure that you are consuming an adequate amount of nutrients required to feed your lean muscle tissue. If you are crash dieting or excessively restricting your calorie intake, you are more than likely not receiving proper nutrition for preserving your lean muscle tissue. To avoid the loss of lean muscle tissue during weight loss and achieve the benefits of your resistance training, consume foods that are high in quality protein regularly throughout the day (click here to learn how to choose high-quality, protein-rich foods).
Yea, yea, yea Nina…This information is great, but what if I’ve already lost the weight and am looking flabulous? No sweat. Just follow tips 2 and 3 and hang in there. Over time, you'll notice a significant change in your appearance.
Disclaimer: The information provided is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Any reader who is concerned about his or her health should contact a physician for advice.
Before starting an exercise training program you should first make sure that exercise is safe for you. If you are under the age of 55 years and generally in good health, it is probably safe for you to exercise. However, if you are over 55 years of age and/or have any health problems, be sure to consult with your physician before starting an exercise training program.
Written by Nina Cherie Franklin