It’s a dirty little secret that bedrest can help you lose weight.
But it’s not the weight you want to lose.
It is muscle: in fact, in this novel research study of body composition and bed rest, it is 3.3 pounds of muscle, in just 10 days if you are in your 60s, but 28 days if you are young.
Either way, that’s a lot of muscle your body is chewing up.
And fat loss?
Almost nothing: 0.3 percent. Less than one-tenth that of muscle.
This explains something almost every athlete knows: if you lay off working out for a week, you come back weaker. A lot weaker.
Because you have already lost pounds of muscle, from everywhere.
How can you prevent this?
1. Move. Every day. And strength train: do resistance exercises, lift free weights, chop wood, work in your garden–see the WSJ feature on Dr. Bill Koonce here in Santa Barbara in his garden work!: whatever it is, do not remain sedentary.
2. And eat to build muscle (i.e., keep your strength) and bone (i.e., prevent osteoporosis).
High protein diets can suck calcium from bones, probably by creating an acidic environment.
High protein eating–muscle meat or powders–is not the answer to losing muscle.
But Potassium Citrate“>potassium citrate supplements might be. Spinal and hip bone density went up 1 percent after a year in people who took it daily, versus people taking potassium chloride, which doesn’t neutralize acid, in an under-the-radar study of osteoporosis prevention that needs more attention.
And that’s eating an every day (Swiss) diet.
As dramatic an effect as many supplements.
The secret to keeping your muscle strength may be, in part, in protecting your bones.
And losing weight, the right way, should be first about food, and then, about fitness: it is hard to do both at first to start.