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How can an individual living in America utilize diet and exercise in

order to achieve more lean body mass, as well as lose weight with

Sam Southworth
Senior Project Advisor:
Ashley Carruth
Abstract: Exploring the contributing factors of obesity in people in America, this thesis aims to
educate the reader on how to efficiently build lean body mass through exercise and diet.
Specified exercises, thought out frequency, and sufficient diet all play a big role in developing
lean body mass. This paper goes through each in detail, focusing on making each one achievable
without a huge sacrifice to time or resources. The aim of this thesis is to promote healthy
lifestyles and eradicate some of the adamosity people contain towards beginning a program to
lose weight and develop lean body mass.

12th Grade Humanities

Animas High School
--- April 2019

Approximately two-thirds of people in America are overweight. Overweight and obesity

lead to adverse health effects such as higher blood pressure, a greater risk of stroke and diabetes,

and increased risk of bone and joint disease. These negative health risks are why achieving a

better lifestyle through diet and exercise is crucial in order to maintain a long healthy life.

Although ideal health through diet and exercise is important, constraints in terms of time and

finances deter people from pursuing a healthy lifestyle. As well as this, new fab diet and exercise

programs emerge everyday promising fast, drastic fat loss that don’t provide the sustainable

results people strive for. Despite the fact that making exercise and diet a priority is the route that

many choose to go, even casually taking your health into account on a daily basis can improve

your physical health without occupying a huge portion of your life. There are several

contributing factors to the average American’s poor health. First of all, some people may not

have convenient or affordable access to a fitness facility. Secondly, as we progress as a society

we start to rely on convenience more and more. The choices you make in terms of exercise and

diet seem to become less important as our lives move so fast. Busy schedules and lifestyle vices

such as fast food target members of our society because it fits easily into their strenuous lives.

Many are put off from exercise because they see it as a huge commitment in terms of time as

well as knowledge. They want to get in shape but they don’t have the time to make it a priority in

their lives. This thesis looks into the most efficient techniques in terms of exercise as well as

accessibility through exercises you can use, utilizing body weight and no readily available

equipment in order to increase lean body mass to counteract obesity. Utilizing a diverse array of
exercises, specific frequency of training, as well as a strongly informed diet, will maximize

efficiency in gaining lean body mass in people in America.

Historical Context:

Obesity and overweightness in our country has been on the rise in the last couple of

decades and is becoming more and more of a problem. As stated by CNN reporter Victoria


Since 1999, there has been a staggering rise in the prevalence of obesity,

particularly in adults, without any "signs of it slowing down," according to the

study's lead researcher, Dr.​ ​Craig Hales, medical epidemiologist at the US Centers

for Disease Control and Prevention. ​(4)

Getting to the bottom of this issue is becoming more and more pressing as the prevalence
of this problem is only growing, but a solution to obesity is not as obvious as it may seem.
Obesity is defined by having a body mass index (BMI) of thirty or more, and being overweight is
defined by having a BMI of 25 or more. An individual’s BMI is determined by taking their
weight in kilograms and dividing it by their height in centimeters squared. For example, if an
individual weighs 77 kilograms and is 6’4” (1.93 meters) tall they will have a healthy BMI of

Lean body mass is one’s total body weight minus their fat content. It is important to have
high amounts of lean body mass as having a high percentage of fat makes you susceptible to an
array of negative consequences in terms of your health. One example of these effects is higher
blood pressure. High blood pressure puts more strain on your heart and arteries making you more
susceptible to heart attacks as well as strokes, and even dementia. Sports physiologist and
researcher at University of Colorado, Adela Hruby, explores the effects and demographics of
obesity as she writes, “In the USA, the directmost dire projections based on earlier secular
trends point to over 85% of adults being overweight or obese by 2030 (​5​).” With this information
on our dark projected future of overweightness and obesity it is crucial to determine what is
causing this rise in obesity. Our reliance on convenience starts to let actions that used to be a part
of most people’s schedule fall under as we utilize more processed less healthy foods, as well as
lives that don’t rely nearly as much on physical activity. In the year 2000 Americans consumed
almost 20% more calories, 45% more grain, and two thirds more fats than in 1986. At the same
time shoveling money into a $66 billion weight loss industry, utilizing unsustainable weight loss
practices that lead to little results, or results that don’t last. This is why having a lifestyle with
focus on good nutrition as well as exercise is crucial when building lean body mass and fighting
obesity and overweight.

Research and Analysis:

Efficient Exercises:

When starting your journey to building lean body mass and shedding fat there are many

available exercises out there. This may deter people, as they start an exercise program and do not

achieve gains that they would expect for the amount of time and effort put it. This could lead to

them quitting and not achieving the goals they desire. That is why finding an efficient program in

terms of diet and exercise is essential. People often look into utilizing diet alone to lose weight

and develop lean body mass, this isn’t as effective as you might think. Professor of Physical

Education and Exercise Science at Auburn University, Michele Olson, looks into the relationship

between diet and exercise as he states:

Yes, you can lose weight with diet alone, but exercise is an important component.

Without it, only a portion of your weight loss is from fat — you’re also stripping

away muscle and bone density. Since working out stimulates growth of those

metabolic tissues, losing weight through exercise means you’re burning mostly

fat. (1)

It is important to not let weight alone track your development in lean body mass as many

people do. Utilizing diet alone puts you at risk for losing muscle mass and not making fat loss

your priority.

When you exercise to develop lean body mass and lose fat you will be primarily doing

cardio. Cardio is short for cardiovascular exercise. Cardiovascular exercises are any exercises

that elevate your heart rate. The reason cardio is utilized for weight loss is because it burns

calories, and raise your metabolism. One way many people begin a workout program is basing it

on the “Fat Burning Zone”. This means staying in a low intensity work out and not utilizing

different intensities to burn fat. It is pushed by fitness magazines, trainers, and even used as a

setting on some exercise equipment. The theory behind this is that at lower intensities your body

relies more on fat as fuel. But in reality weight loss and building lean muscle mass require an

array of different types of cardio. In order to utilize it to its full extent you must combine high

intensity, moderate intensity, and low-intensity cardio. The difference between high-intensity,

moderate-intensity, and low-intensity cardio is the rate at which your heart is pumping in

comparison to your maximum heart rate. Fitness coach and writer at Coach Nine, Sam Downing,

provides context on heart rate and exercise intensity when he states “​To understand exercise

intensity it's helpful to know your ​maximum heart rate (MHR)​, which you can estimate by
subtracting your age from 220 — so a 35-year-old has a MHR of about 185 beats per minute, for

example.” (6).​ A high-intensity workout involves having your heart pump at around eighty to

ninety percent of your maximum heart rate, a moderate intensity exercise involves your heart

pumping at around seventy to eighty percent of your maximum heart rate, and a low-intensity

exercise at around sixty to seventy percent of your maximum possible heart rate. One common

way to gauge whether the workout you are doing is high, moderate, or low intensity without a

heart monitor is using the “talk test”. If you can talk and sing during your exercise without

running out of breath you can assume you are at a low intensity, if you can carry on a

conversation but aren’t able to sing more than a few words you can assume you are at a moderate

intensity, and if you cannot say more than a few words without running out a breath you can

assume you are at a high intensity . When reaching around 80 to 90 percent of your heart’s

capabilities through high impact training you put a lot of strain on your body and if you are not

yet properly equipped for this, you exercise could actually, in turn, hurt you. This is why it is a

good idea to check with a health professional before you start doing high-intensity interval

training and find out how much you should incorporate into your workout. When participating in

high-intensity interval training you want to try to have your rest periods last around the same

time or a little longer than the training period lasted, you can do this with either rest of mild

activity reaching around 40% of your total possible heart rate. As stated by Marissa Gold, a

fitness journalist for SELF:

HIIT is a ​cardio​ session arranged as short bursts of very hard work. The whole

point of high-intensity training is to kick up the ​intensity​ of your cardio. In order

to qualify as true HIIT, you’ll need to push yourself to the max during every set.
That’s why they’re short—anywhere from 20 to 90 seconds, typically. It’s the

opposite of going for a long run where you ration your energy in order to sustain

the activity for longer.(3)

This makes high-intensity cardio appealing in terms of weight loss, but daunting in terms of

potential for injury.

High-intensity exercises include:

Butt kicks​ (duration: 45 Second): Stand with your feet hip distance apart, kick one foot at a time

to the correlating gloot, alternate feet quickly until the time is complete

Jump Squats​ (Duration: 45 seconds): Stand with your feet slighter farther than hip distance

apart, keeping your chest upright bend your knees and push your butt out until your knees are at

around a ninety-degree angle, then jump up and land in the original position and begin next


Burpees​ (Duration: 45 seconds): Begin standing with your feet hip width apart, then squat and

bring the palms of your hands to the floor, next jump your feet out putting you in a plank

position, then do one push up before jumping back into the squatting position and lift yourself

back up to standing and begin your next repetition

Moderate intensity exercises include:

Brisk Walking​ (Duration dependent on individual): Walk at a pace of at least four miles per

hour or faster being conscious not to run

Hiking​ (Duration dependent on individual): Walk at a pace of around three miles per hour

through inconsistent terrain

Low-intensity exercises include:

Walking​ (Duration dependent on individual): Walking at a consistent pace of around three miles

per hour

Light Bicycling​ (Duration dependent on individual): Biking at a consistent pace of around ten

miles per hour or slower

Utilizing a combination of all these exercises will provide you with a balance between high,

moderate, and low-intensity cardio and therefore will provide you with balanced weight loss.

Frequency of Training:

The next thing to look into is frequency of training. The notion that putting your all into

an exercise program seven days a week will give you great gains may seem appealing, but your

body needs time to recover and excessive strain puts you at risk for injury. The National

Institutes of Health Recommends doing at least 30 to around 45 minutes of cardio, three to five
days a week for weight loss. This is achievable for most people and doesn’t require a huge

commitment in terms of time. Additionally, alternation of intensities and getting a balance

between high, moderate, and low-intensity cardio between days pushes your efficiency up.

Different intensities come with diverse effects on your body, and getting a balance between them

is essential in finding efficiency in building better health. Low-intensity cardio helps with having

a stronger cardiovascular system in general, but high-intensity cardio is more efficient when

building lean body mass as well as a higher resting metabolism. As stated by the staff at fitness

center, N1 Motion:

​Low intensity exercise is aerobic work where your heart rate stays within 60-80%

of your max heart rate. Working on your endurance boosts your heart’s left

ventricle that pushes blood out to the rest of the body to increase in capacity. That

means that more oxygen gets delivered to nourish crucial tissues and organs

which support better overall health.

While low intensity cardio works to help your overall cardiovascular system, high intensity

cardio comes with diverse percs as well.

High intensity exercise, often referred to as HIIT (high intensity interval training)

or SIT (sprint interval training), burns more calories in a shorter period of time

compared to the time put in for low intensity training. However, high intensity

exercise escalates your resting metabolism so you burn more calories post

The potential for a higher metabolism as well as burning calories quickly may make exclusively

doing high-intensity cardio seem like a viable option, but that is not the case. This is due to the

fact that an excess of high-intensity cardio can have negative effects on your body, whereas low

intensity cardio provides persistence and muscle recovery. High intensity cardio utilizes the

adrenal gland in order to create the arousal utilized through the process. Your adrenal gland is

responsible for controlling vital life functions such as controlling your metabolism as well as

your blood pressure. An excess of high intensity cardio can lead to adrenal fatigue, which can

lead to a higher metabolism and more weight gain. Doing exclusively low or moderate intensity

cardio is not a great option either. Low intensity exercise is important for building insurance

through repetition at a low resistance but doesn’t provide the quick burn of calories or the

benefits to your metabolism that higher intensity exercises do. Low intensity cardio also puts less

stress on your body making you less susceptible to exercise related injuries. As different

intensities come with different effects on your body determining a balance between them is

essential in order to get a range of positive effects. The most popular division of intensities is

based on the Olympic programming. This states that you should dedicate 80% to low-intensity,

12% to moderate, and 8% to high-intensity cardio. Looking into efficiency in your exercise as

well as getting a rounded array of positive effects, finding a balance between low, moderate, and

high-intensity exercise is essential in developing lean body mass.


Although exercise is important, making sure you are setting your body up for success in

terms of how you fuel it is also crutial in efficient lean body mass development. Diet takes a
substantial part in weight loss and can significantly contribute to your program, as stated by

Michael Olson:

As a rule of thumb, weight loss is generally 75 percent diet and 25 percent

exercise. An analysis of more than 700 weight loss studies found that people see

the biggest short-term results when they eat smart. On average, people who dieted

without exercising for 15 weeks lost 23 pounds; the exercisers lost only six over

about 21 weeks. It’s much easier to cut calories than to burn them off. For

example, if you eat a fast-food steak quesadilla, which can pack 500-plus calories,

you need to run more than four miles to ‘undo’ it! (4)

This is why it is crucial to not either exercise or diet alone, when doing them both provide you

with the best gains in lean body mass. As well as, makes sure that the mass that you are losing is

fat and not bone density or muscle mass.

When starting a diet the endless amount of programs available out there may push people

towards the wrong option and lead them to never acquire the long term results they strive for.

This is strongly due to the fact that very restrictive diets requiring huge sacrifice are easy to slip

on and make sustainable results hard to achieve. Around fifteen percents, or 45 million

Americans go on a diet each year, bot only around ten percent achieve the result they are looking

for. In order for a diet to be achievable and effective you must utilize a more conscious way of

going into your typical diet.

The first to consider when changing diet in terms of weight loss is reducing intake of

calories. Calories are a unit of measurement to determine the amount of energy people get from

food. In order for the average male to maintain his body weight, he must consume 2,500 calories
per day, and to lose an average of one pound per week he must consume 2,000 calories a day. A

good rule of thumb is you must be burning more calories than you are taking in. This was

reinforced by the Mayo Clinic Staff when they explained, “​Calories are the energy in food. Your

body has a constant demand for energy and uses the calories from food to keep functioning.

Energy from calories fuels your every action, from fidgeting to marathon running. (2)”​ Looking

into calories as the energy source that they are, it is easy to see how having an excess of unused

calories is inefficient and unnecessary. This is why utilizing all the calories you put into your

body without excess is crucial in terms of developing lean body mass as opposed to weight. But

just cutting calories on the same diet isn’t a great idea in terms of sustainability in keeping

weight off in the long run, you must also take into account where you are getting your calories.

Looking into cutting back on sugar and refined carbs in your diet is a good idea when

striving for weight loss. Refined carbs are a carbohydrate that exist in a lot of food such as

potatoes, wheat, and rice. And manifest themselves in many foods such as pasta, bread, flour,

and many other foods we consume on a daily basis. When you cut these out of your diet your

body will start to utilize your stored body fat for energy instead of the carbohydrates in starches.

As well as this, you will start to feel less hungry as you consume less refined carbs, which will

lead to you having to consume fewer calories. The reason for this is refined carbs do not contain

a lot of fiber and as a result, your body digests them very quickly, leaving you still hungry after

eating a substantial amount. In addition to this, when you consume a lot of refined carbs your

blood sugar will go up and as a result, your body will release a spike of insulin in your

bloodstream to compensate. This can lead to low blood sugar and the feeling of hunger.
The next thing to look into is increasing protein intake in your diet, this is often seen as

the most important piece in weight loss in terms of diet. The reason for this is because protein

not only works to increase your metabolism, it also changes some of the weight and

appetite-regulating hormones and allows you to cut back on calories as well as loose additional

weight. When you consume proteins they provide your body with multiple hormones such as

GLP-1 and cholecystokinin. These help your body achieve satiety (the feeling of being full and

plenished). As well as this they decrease your bodies levels of ghrelin which is a hormone that

induces your appetite. These combined factors make it so that you will feel the need to consume

less calories in order to feel full and therefore have fewer calories to burn off.


Male obesity is such a pressing issue in this country and utilizing healthier lifestyle

choices in terms of diet and exercise in order to develop more lean body mass and lose weight

are essential in neutralizing this problem. Diet and exercise are often seen as something that isn’t

reachable through a lifestyle without a lot of excess time and money in order to go to the gym or

eat healthier foods. This dentures a lot of people from achieving a healthier lifestyle, and

personal health falls onto the backburner and isn’t made a priority. This is why efficiency in

time, and utilizing body weight exercises as well as reducing calories and looking closer into

what is in what you’re eating is essential to draw in a crowd of people looking to improve their

health without extensive sacrifice.

A combination of body weight exercises allows you to get efficient results from home

requiring only 90 to 225 minutes per week without having to go to the gym. This equates to 30 to

45 minutes a day three to five days a week. This number is one that fits into a lot of people’s

lifestyle and makes achieving your goals a lot more feasible. Although a busy individual may not

have time to go out of their way to spend an hour at the gym each morning, they probably do

have the time to spend less than an hour every other night exercising.

Not knowing where to start with an exercise program throws a lot of people off and may

cause them to give up on their program as they aren’t getting the efficiency they crave. Although

cardio is a pretty household word for weight loss, it is a blanket term and doesn’t provide a lot of

specific information on how it should be utilized for different effects. But looking into cardio,

utilizing different intensities as well as specific frequencies is straightforward and does not

require a large commitment and provides efficiency in developing lean body mass.

Diet, being an important factor in weight loss, can greatly impact your success.

Improving your diet is often viewed as a big commitment and a sacrifice to convenience as well.

But the fact of the matter is, if you are more conscious about how much you are eating and what

your food contains, a healthier diet is achieving able without a large sacrifice. Although diving

full force into a diet is an option that a lot of people choose to pursue, consciously burning more

calories than you take in as well as staying away from refined carbs and sugars can give you the

benefits you want and help you develop lean body mass.

Utilizing these three techniques allows an individual to develop more lean body mass

through efficiency, and counteracts obesity while staying feasible to the majority of people in

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Gold, Marissa. “What Exactly Is HIIT-And How Can You Tell If You're Actually Doing It?”
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“Injury Litigations : ACSM's Health & Fitness Journal.” ​LWW​, Oxford University Press, issue=05000
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News Center. “Change Diet, Exercise Habits at Same Time for Best Results, Study Says.” ​EHR
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Organization. “Is Exercise Or Diet More Important For Weight Loss? Here's The Truth.” ​The
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Todd B. Nippoldt, M.D. “Adrenal Fatigue: What Causes It?” ​Mayo Clinic,​ Mayo Foundation for
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“What Are the Three Main Types of Exercise? | Types Of Exercise.” ​Sharecare,​​.

“What's Better, High Intensity or Low Intensity Training?” ​N1 Motion,​