Dear Mr. Fitness:

I have been reading your column religiously for several years now and I have a question. Why do you always tell people to lift weights when they are only interested in losing weight? I thought all you should be doing is aerobics and dieting. Won't lifting weights make you gain weight? Most persons want to lose weight.

-- Heavy Duty

Dear Heavy Duty:

You know, Heavy, I believe you have written to me in the past. I am glad you are still tuning in! The thing about making sure you lift weights if you want to lose body fat is this: The more lean muscle tissue you have, the easier it will be for you to permanently -- yes, for good -- lose the fat! After all, that is what we wish to accomplish, the total shedding of the fat and not have it come back. At least, I hope that's what people wish!

If you were to rely on a diet, then you can be assured of one thing: The weight will come back on you. Countless folks can attest to this truth. If you rely on aerobics only, you won't have the fat-burning potential muscle provides you. Aerobics do not build fat-burning muscle. Always remember that it is your muscles that burn your body fat. Fat gives your muscles energy, not just carbohydrates.

If we were to compare the fat burning of two individuals who weighed exactly the same but one of them had 10 percent more muscle than the other, guess what? The individual with the 10 percent more muscle would be burning fat at almost twice the rate of the other person.

This person would be burning much more fat even at rest when compared to the "skinnier" person. (That's skinnier in terms of muscle mass.) Your lean body mass, which comprises mostly skeletal muscles, needs fat to perform all of its activities.

In persons who possess a large amount of muscle, their bodies are always looking for fuel to feed those muscles. The muscles will continually be scrounging around in search of something to keep them functioning at a high level. This looking around for fuel to feed the muscles is known as having a high metabolic rate.

You know the type: Someone who can eat just about anything and still be lean.

High metabolic rates can be genetic, true enough, but you can mimic these fortunate people by lifting weights and getting some muscles.

So, if you wish to be the person whom everyone envies, add a weight-lifting program to your fitness regimen and begin to reap the benefits!

-- Mr. Fitness

Tony Wagner, aka Mr. Fitness, has more than 30 years of fitness and nutritional expertise and has helped thousands of people get into and stay in shape. Contact him at mrfitness1@aol.com, on Facebook or stop by Bodyzone Fitness Center, 2740 N. Roosevelt Blvd., 305-292-2930.