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Bodybuilders know the healthy way to lose weight

Most people who lose weight become less healthy as a result. People who want to become thinner and stay healthy are best off doing that in the bodybuilding way, according to an epidemiological study in which 26,625 Danes took part. Your aim should not be a lower bodyweight, but rather a higher bodyweight with a lower fat percentage.

Weight loss dangerous?

We are all getting too fat and should eat less, going by what experts say in the media. Left at that, though, it's a dangerous message, because studies in which researchers have followed people who have lost weight over a longer period suggest that weight loss increases your chance of dying. The study that epidemiologists at Copenhagen University and Aarhus University published in PLoS One comes to the same conclusion.

Bodybuilders know the healthy way to lose weight
The researchers measured the BMI and the waist measurement of their subjects on two occasions in the 1990s and at the start of the 21st century. After that the researchers monitored them for an average of 6.7 years.

That enabled the researchers to calculate how an increase or decrease in BMI affected the likelihood of dying [HR, or mortality]. The results are shown in the figure below. As you can see, a decrease in BMI increases the likelihood of dying, but this actually goes down if your BMI increases. Indeed. According to these figures it's healthier to be heavy than to lose weight.

Bodybuilders know the healthy way to lose weight

Bodybuilders know the healthy way to lose weight

The figure above shows the relationship between waist measurement and chance of dying. The smaller the measurement, the less likely you are to die. The bigger the waist measurement, the more likely you are to die.

The researchers think that muscle is healthy. The more muscle mass you have, the better. But what's really unhealthy is the fat in your abdominal area that surrounds your organs. Unguided weight loss probably costs you muscle mass, and therefore increases your mortality risk.

"These findings suggest a need for development of prevention and treatment strategies targeted against redistribution of fat mass towards the abdominal region", the researchers conclude.

Unhindered by scientific knowledge, we have a suggestion for everyone who wants to live to be 100: try to put on weight while at the same time reducing your fat percentage as much as possible. And that's exactly what bodybuilders do.

PLoS One. 2010 Sep 30; 5(9). pii: e13097.

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