Q+A: Can Weightlifting Plus Diet Burn Fat And Save Muscle?

Q+A: Studies on Women and Resistance Training

by TONY NUÑEZ, PHD

Q: Can resistance training combined with a caloric deficit burn significant pounds without sacrificing muscle mass?

A: In 2017, a 16-week study investigated this question with 31 women with obesity (aged 32 ± 5) who were separated into four groups: control, diet only, resistance training (RT) only and RT plus diet. The diet-only and RT-plus-diet groups received individual meal plans based on caloric intake (assessed from resting metabolic rate tests). Both training groups performed the same monthly workouts.

Results demonstrated that all three experimental groups (diet only, RT only and RT plus diet) saw reductions in fat mass—with the RT-plus-diet group losing the most. However, the RT-only group was the one group that achieved significant increases in muscle mass. The study suggests that resistance training paired with caloric restrictions can burn fat and preserve muscle mass, but more research needs to be done with larger sample sizes and different populations.

REFERENCE:Miller, T., et al. 2017. Resistance training combined with diet decreases body fat while preserving lean mass independent of resting metabolic rate: A randomized trial. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism. doi:10.1123/ijsnem.2017-0221, epub ahead of print.

Meet our experts

AFM_Author_Nunez TONY P. NUÑEZ, PHD, is an assistant professor in exercise science at Metropolitan State University of Denver. He is an active researcher and presenter in the exercise physiology and fitness field.

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