By Rita La Rosa Loud, B.S. 

Dieting leaves us feeling confused and frustrated when we have lost a decent amount of weight, only to gain it all back and more. More than ever, we all want to shed fat and inches from our hips and waist, understanding that an overage of intra-abdominal (belly fat) stored around internal organs is detrimental to one’s health. Specifically, in accordance with the World Health Organization, a waist-to-hip ratio of 1.0 or higher inches increases risk of heart disease, diabetes, including early death. Yet studies, including a Harvard study, reveal women who strength train experience appreciably greater loss of fat in the midsection compared to women who do not strength train. Research also indicates resistance training, together with endurance exercise, reduces belly fat in both older men and women sans dieting.

Bottom line: Participating in an all-inclusive program of resistance and endurance exercise increases lean tissue (muscle), decreases adipose tissue (fat), improves body composition (muscle/fat ratio), resting metabolic rate (how many calories you burn all day long), and reduces circumference (inches), particularly in those stubborn areas of the midsection and lower body. Coupling this with healthy food choices: fruits, veggies, nuts, legumes, and dairy, along with enough high-quality protein (plant based/lean meats), will assuredly enhance results.

Example 1: In a Westcott, et. al. research study, two groups of mature and older adult participants performed strength training and cardiovascular exercise to improve their body composition (Exercise Only and an Exercise with Protein Shake Group). At the study completion, the Exercise Only Group gained 3.1 lbs. of muscle and lost 3.9 lbs. of fat, for an impressive 7.0 lbs. improvement in body composition. However, the Exercise with Protein Shake Group experienced 41% more muscle development and had an 82% greaterfat reduction! Neither group changed their normal diet, and both groups performed similar exercise programs. The Protein Shake Group simply consumed a supplemental protein shake immediately post-workout on their training days (2-3 times per week), ultimately losing more inches overall.

Example 2: In a Westcott, et. al. exercise, nutrition, and maintenance study, healthy food consumption, together with resistance training, endurance exercise, and supplementary protein, correlated in improvement of body composition, a healthy weight, and waistline. During the nutrition phase, participants diminished their middle by 0.5 inches and lost an additional 0.5 inches from their waist in the maintenance phase.

Flexible eating and enjoyable exercise program

Consider our eight-week (April 22-June 14) inch loss program at Quincy College’s Wayne Westcott, Ph.D. Center for Health, and Fitness. In this all-inclusive resistance and endurance group exercise format, participants receive healthy nutrition tips and are provided an optional eating approach of their choice. To attend the prerequisite information meeting on Tuesday, April 16, 5:30-6:30 p.m. with Rita La Rosa Loud and Michelle Pearson, MS, RDN, call 617-405-5978. Please arrive at 5:15 p.m. at the fitness center (lower level), Presidents Place, 1250 Hancock St., so greeters can escort you to the meeting room. Interested participants will receive program fee/registration process during the presentation. Street parking and a parking garage are available.

About the Author: Rita La Rosa Loud holds a B.S. in Exercise Physiology with additional education in Sports Medicine and Athletic Training. She is NASM Certified and has been actively involved in the fitness industry for more than 35 years. She is also an author and writes  

fitness-related articles for various publications. Currently, she is a fitness researcher and directs the Wayne Westcott, Ph.D. Center for Health and Fitness at Quincy College. She can be reached at 617-405-5978.