Everyone can agree losing weight is great, but not when that weight is coming from muscle. Most people don’t know this but they’re probably doing this right now.
When people go on diets the most important aspect is a calorie deficiency. They think, “If I eat less then I’ll look good!” While on a diet, however, your body puts muscle building on the back-burner. There is a gap in fuel your body needs and how much is being consumed. That gap, however big it may be, is a chunk of fuel your body is missing every day. Your body tries to adapt and become more efficient so it decreases the gap by burning chemical energy stored in the body – fat. However, if you don’t make smart eating choices and you aren’t exercising correctly, your body will eat up muscle tissue just as readily.
This is why some might see their body fat percentages increase even though they are losing weight. So how can you overcome your body’s natural tendencies and burn fat while still building muscle? It’s not easy, but if you follow these tips it’s possible:
Eat More Protein
Most of the protein you consume while in a caloric deficit doesn’t go to muscle building. Rather, it is used for fuel and repairing other parts of your body. An individual on a diet should aim for an average of 1.5g of protein per body weight.
All that protein should be consumed in meals spaced evenly throughout the day. A 2013 study found daily rates of protein synthesis were highest in individuals who consumed protein in regular intervals. As a general rule, aim for about 30 grams of protein every meal.
Contrary to popular belief, eating more meat will not make you fat! Although you are consuming more calories from protein, studies have shown your body-fat will be the same.
Change the Way You Train
Strength training is a must while on a diet. Many people simply focus on cardio not realizing strength training can build muscle and help lose weight even quicker. Not only that, individuals who do strength training are typically using high repetition ranges such as 15-20. While on a diet, this isn’t the best recipe for success. Focus on compound movements like the squat, presses, pull-downs, and deadlift as these are the best muscle-building exercises. A combination of heavy resistance (4-8 reps per set) and high-repetition training is ideal for muscle growth.
This may seem counterintuitive, but long sessions of cardio are a mistake that everyone is guilty of. Cardio does burn calories, but after a period of time your body starts burning muscle tissue instead of fat. Use high-intensity interval training (HIIT) as your main form of cardio instead. HIIT builds muscle and burns an insane amount of calories, in a much shorter period of time! Include HIIT only a couple times throughout the week since it is taxing on the body.
This goes without saying, but many people still aren’t consuming the right foods. A typical diet cuts carbs, but many people also cut fats. It’s important to know we all need fats to maintain good health. Without fats, our hair, nails, and even cell structure begin to break down. So when dieting, look for healthy sources of fats so our body can utilize them efficiently. Sources of healthy fats include salmon, avocado, olive oil, flax, walnuts, and chia seeds.
Losing weight and building muscle takes time. At first, fat-loss and muscle-gain will be quick. Excess fat will be shed quickly and without any muscle, gains will come quick. But as you get closer to your goal, know that it will become harder and harder. Losing five or ten pounds after losing so much will be hard for the body, so give it time. Be proud that you are able to push through the most difficult time.
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