Hey Angels and Alphas,
In general terms, weight loss is a good thing. As noted by the CDC, losing even 5 to 10 percent of your total body weight can lower your blood pressure, your blood sugar, and your bad cholesterol.
That being said, the one downside of weight loss is that if often comes with losing muscle tissue – which will not only burn more calories at rest than fat which makes it useful in its own right, but it also gives the body its shape and functional abilities. When you cut weight, about 20 to 30 percent of the weight you lose will come from muscle, according to research.
That being said, unless you take steps to prevent losing muscle. Here’s what you can do if you want to hold onto the muscle tissue you have right now:
#1 CONSUME MORE PROTEIN
One of the most basic things you should do if you’re trying to lose more fat without losing your existing muscle is to increase your protein intake.
According to a paper from the ISSN, increasing your protein intake from the average recommendation of 0.8 grams to anywhere between 1.2 and 2.4 grams per kilogram of bodyweight, while also restricting your calories by up to 30 percent, will allow you to maximize fat loss while maintaining existing muscle mass.
To give an example, a 185-pound male who consumes about 150-200 grams of protein every day can theoretically maintain muscle mass even when cutting his overall caloric intake by 30%. To get your protein range in grams, divide your bodyweight by 2.2 to get your weight in kilos, then multiply by 2.
How should you go about increasing your intake of protein?
As with all other macronutrients, you will want to look to sources that are whole foods, and you can even turn to protein supplements if you’re experiencing trouble meeting your daily needs. That being said, protein supplementation should be used only in diets that are fundamentally sound. Even though they aren’t any better than creating a muscle-building response than other protein sources that have a similar amino acid profile, they may be more practical for people who struggle to get in enough protein.
Whole-food sources of protein include nuts, beans, Greek yogurt, eggs, seeds, cottage cheese, lentils, seafood, meat, and more.
#2 ADD RESISTANCE TRAINING
In addition to increasing your daily intake of protein, adding strength training exercises to your routine can help you maintain muscle while you’re shedding fat.
Weight training is crucial to overall health and there’s plenty of evidence supporting the notion that it can help you preserve muscle while you’re dieting.
Resistance training breaks down your muscles, stimulating a process known as muscle protein synthesis that repairs broken tissues. Provided you have enough protein available, this repair will help your muscles grow back stronger.
Recent reviews have revealed that strength training can help elderly people and obese people maintain muscle while they’re following calorie-restricted diets while they’re losing the same amount of fat as those who didn’t do any strength training.
If you’re a beginner in strength training, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends that you start with 2 or 3 sessions a week. After six months of consistent training, you’ll have the option to add more weekly sessions. In those first few sessions, all you should prioritize are squads, chest presses, deadlifts, bent-over rows, and shoulder presses – the fundamentals.
#3 DON’T DO TOO MUCH CARDIO
Cardio exercises such as swimming, running, and cycling can indeed help you lose fat when combined with a healthy diet.
Not to mention, cardiovascular activity also offers a variety of other health benefits that make it all the more worth your time. For example, running has been shown to lower your risk of death from heart disease by 45 percent.
That being said, you shouldn’t take cardio to the extreme all in the hopes of shedding fat. Many folks to all in cardiovascular training and losing weight by drastically cutting calories and running mile after mile which is stressing on the body and rather counterproductive.
Instead of running yourself silly and risking all your muscle in the process, just stick to a combined routine of cardio and strength training. And with HIIT being a potential one-size-fits-all solution, it’s safe to say you have plenty of options when it comes to exercises you can do if you want to preserve your muscle while still shedding away fat.