Many readers have asked me this question: can I lose weight but increased my muscles? the answer is yes but, unfortunately, many times when we try to lose weight, we may end up having less muscle mass than when we started out. And sometimes we might even find our body fat% increased.
Why is this happening?
Because to lose weight we usually consume fewer calories than we burn, we are indirectly telling our bodies not to care much about muscle mass. This happens because "low calorie" strategies decrease the intracellular signaling necessary for the body to synthesize new muscle proteins.
Furthermore, when dieting, the muscle tissue may be less sensitive to protein intake. As a result, muscles are less likely to use any amino acids coming from the proteins we ingest from diet. Unfortunately, muscles naturally get rid of proteins while get ready to replace them with new healthy ones. But, when there are no new proteins coming up, our body may end up losing muscle, and sometimes even very drastically.
So, again, is it possible to build muscle while losing weight? The answer is yes, and below I will be describing the best strategies to achieve this super goal.
To gain muscle while losing fat (and weight) I recommend consuming between 2 - 3 grams of protein per kg of your body (1 - 1.5 grams of protein per lb). And protein intake should be spaced out evenly throughout the day. Generally speaking, try to include at least 25 - 30 grams of protein in every meal, or slightly more if you are vegetarian.
Protein-enriched meals are not only good for your muscle health but also can boost your metabolism for the day and prevent carbs and sugar cravings, thus helping weight loss. Aim for at least 20 grams of high-protein during your meals.
You can easily get 20 grams of protein from some of these meals:
- Crack Eggs.
- Protein Powder
- Chia Pudding
- Lettuce wrap
- Roasted Chicken
- Green beans
- Brown rice
Slowly Losing Fat (and Weight)
Drastic weight loss might result in losing not only fat but also muscle. So, aim to lose no more than 1 - 2 lbs per week. While we will need to cut calories and/or increase our levels of activity slightly differently depending on the person to lose weight at this weekly rate, a simple piece of advice to start would be to start by reducing caloric intake by approx. 500 calories per day. Read more about the ideal weekly rate
Working Out the Right Way
A good strategy to lose weight quickly is to rise our cardiovascular activity. This can be beneficial but, for tuning muscles, this is probably not the right way to go. We should include at least 2 days/week of weight training to maintain our existing muscle mass, and 3 - 5 times a week to build muscle. Free workout routines
The power of HIIT
When trying to get rid of the most fat and gaining the most muscle out of your cardiovascular workouts, the best advice I can give is to go for High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). This type of workout will help you to burn fat while building muscle, whereas trying low- to moderate-intensity steady-state cardio will help you to burn both muscle and fat.
Giving Muscles a Break
When we try to build muscle working out every day might not be the best approach as muscles need some resting to grow and recover. The best is to rest muscles for 1 - 2 days before working out again. In other words, if, for example, we are performing an intense lower-body strength routine on Monday, we should wait at least until Wednesday to target our lower body again. However, we can always perform other muscle groups such as the upper-body ones on Tuesday and Thursday, and so on so forth. In summary, every week, we should schedule at least 1 - 2 days of full rest from our structured workout plan.
Giving Yourself Time
While trying to lose weight, burn fat, and building muscle, we may notice ourselves succeeding at the beginning, but this success speed might naturally slow over time. This is normal as the more excess fat we have to lose, the easier it is to lose 5 lbs of this fat. And by the same token, the more muscle we want to gain, the easier it is to gain 5 lbs of muscle. But, as we get closer to our goal, we should expect to see more subtle changes in our fat and muscle levels, so it´s very important not to get discouraged as this is very logical and normal. Read more about the importance of TIME.
Scientifically proven Trainer
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