Pilates to Lose Weight
Pilates is a motor activity with presumed therapeutic and functional effects.
Generalities on pilates
Pilates, originally called “counter-logy”, was born at the beginning of the 20th century by Joseph Pilates, a personal trainer of German nationality.
Known throughout the world, Pilates has spread mainly in Western countries such as Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom; statistics show that, in 2005, 11 million of Americans tried their hand at Pilates.
Pilates is based on the execution of specific movements that we could vulgarly call “exercises” or “positions” or “figures“. What distinguishes the method is the attention paid to factors that are as important as they are often neglected; for example: pulmonary ventilation, mental concentration, movement control, body centralization, economy of gestures, postural alignment, precision of movements and relaxation.
Overview on Slimming
Before expressing an opinion on the slimming effectiveness of pilates, it is worth clarifying a little bit.
First of all, let us remember that “slimming” means reducing the amount of fat contained in adipose tissue; only as a result, but not necessarily, does this lead to a reduction in body weight.
In order to lose weight, it is essential to consume more energy than is introduced with food. This is an undisputed principle and more important than any other metabolic detail. It doesn’t matter how, but to draw on fat reserves, it becomes necessary to create a negative energy balance. To reduce fat tissue by 100 g, it is essential to consume 700 kcal more than normal; it could therefore be said that each kilogram of adipose content corresponds to approximately 7000 kcal. It is estimated that to lose weight 3 kg per month it is essential to reduce the total energy of the diet by 30%.
If you want to create a negative energy balance, you can do so in two ways: reduce calories or increase consumption. It is also possible to intervene slightly on the body’s metabolism but this is, as we have said, a secondary measure. Let’s deliberately leave out nutrition and refer to a dedicated article (low-calorie slimming diet).
There is a lot to be said for the increase in motor activity. Sport helps to lose weight thanks to two mechanisms:
- Direct fat consumption, maximum in prolonged aerobic disciplines at low or medium intensity for example slow running
- Increase of oxygen debt and therefore of post-exercise metabolism, maximum in anaerobic or mixed disciplines with high intensity for example specific protocols such as Insanity Training.
However, it should be stressed that the “ideal” motor practice is not the most effective, but the one that takes place most willingly. Pilates, as we shall see, is certainly not the slimming discipline par excellence; however, if appreciated, it will ensure greater continuity and commitment than any other.
Does pilates make you lose weight?
Does Pilates make you lose weight? Maybe.
The answer depends above all on how many calories you add to your diet. You can only draw on the reserves of adipose tissue (fat) when the energy balance is negative. So, by leaving the diet unchanged, starting pilates (which increases overall energy consumption) can make slimming easier.
Is pilates one of the slimming activities par excellence? No.
Pilates is a discipline that is based on achieving and maintaining certain body positions, correcting defects in balance, posture, improving the tone of certain weak muscles, etc.. Fatigue is mainly caused by intense muscle tension, of the mixed type (concentric, eccentric and isometric), in which creatine phosphate and sugars are mainly consumed.
To lose weight, on the other hand, it is necessary for muscle work to trigger aerobic metabolism, possibly in a medium-low intensity range, encouraging fat consumption; or, as we have said, to increase post-exercise metabolism (super intense or exhausted activity). Pilates has none of these characteristics.
Having said that, there is one more important consideration: when practising sport it is inevitable that you will have to eat more than normal. This is because the body not only requires more energy, but also more essential nutrients, especially minerals and vitamins. If motor activity is moderate in volume and intensity, the problem does not arise.
When it reaches very high thresholds, the matter becomes more complicated. Here, reckon with both a substantial increase in nutritional requirements and an increase in appetite. Obviously, we are talking about protocols with objectives other than slimming, for example, the competitive performance of swimming, cycling, boxing, running, artistic gymnastics, rowing, etc.. Even in these, however, it may be necessary to lose weight, which is not always easy to achieve without compromising sporting performance.
In this sense, Pilates offers two advantages. First, it does NOT cause total physical exhaustion, both in muscle and metabolic terms. This does not mean that it is a mild activity but, due to its characteristics (the natural load in specific positions), it does not strain the body like certain other sports. Secondly, it is a discipline that is easily adaptable to one’s needs and does not impose high rhythms. While in other activities it is the diet that adapts to physical exertion, in Pilates the opposite can happen, facilitating the search for goals such as slimming, improving posture, balance, etc..
Other considerations on pilates
There is no solid evidence that Pilates can relieve joint and muscle diseases (e.g. lumbago) or reduce the incidence of disabling falls in the elderly (despite a general improvement in motor balance).
We do not consider pilates effective in the treatment of any medical disorder or condition. It has been shown that healthy adults can achieve positive muscle conditioning by regularly engaging in pilates sessions (compared to a sedentary population).