Yes, it is possible to gain muscle and lose weight at the same time BUT there are a few key factors that will guarantee you the best results. Right now, you may be on a fitness routine that isn’t producing the affects you’re looking for and that can simply be because you’re leaving out what’s most important. Sure, a consistent exercise routine and healthy diet are both essential, but there are additional lifestyle changes that need to happen in order to make your health and fitness regimen a success.
Calories vs Weight Loss vs Muscle Gain
First, let’s talk about weight loss. To lose weight you need to burn more calories than you take in per day. A safe and realistic approach is to eat healthy, smaller meals throughout the day to keep your body satisfied and energy levels high. A steady weight loss of 1 to 2 pounds per week is recommended for effective long-term weight management.
Choosing a smaller calorie deficit to lose weight will result in less muscle loss as compared to a higher calorie deficit. If your goal is to lose weight AND build muscle opt for a 500 calorie per day deficit to start. This calculates to 500 calories per day x 7 days per week = 3,500 calories (1 pound body fat). While this method isn’t perfect, as everyone’s body composition is different, it’s a good baseline to get the ball rolling.
Make Protein Your Best Friend
Speaking of calories that brings us to the age old saying, “Abs are made in the kitchen”. It’s true that while regular exercise is important in weight loss, following a healthy diet, drinking plenty of water, and taking in ENOUGH calories is a vital piece of the puzzle. A simple rule of thumb is to include about 25 grams (approximately the size of your palm) of a healthy protein source per meal. The best options include:
- Lean Beef
- Greek Yogurt
- Cottage Cheese
- Protein Powders
Patience is Key
It’s important to keep in mind that both building muscle and weight loss take time. When done in a method to achieve lasting results patience is key. Since muscle weighs more than fat you may notice that your clothing fits differently before seeing the scale change. Stick to it, progress is being made.
Weight Train Like You Mean It
Weight training should be your favorite type of workout. Aim for twice a week to maintain muscle mass and at least three times a week to build. A study done by Harvard School of Public Health showed that after observing 10,500 adults who regularly strength trained didn’t just build muscle but reduced abdominal fat as well.
Make lifting a challenge
To build muscle, you need to feel like you’re working. Make it a challenge without compromising form.
- To increase muscle size and definition, stick to a challenging 6-12 reps of your max weight with 1-2 minutes rest in between sets.
- To increase strength, stick to a challenging 1-6 reps with 2-3 minutes of rest in between sets. This is recommended to be done with a personal trainer to ensure proper form and avoid injury.
- To increase muscle endurance, stick to 12-20 reps with 30-90 seconds of rest in between sets. This method is useful when the goal is to produce more muscle definition.
Don’t Skip the Cardio
Cardio should still be included but stick to lower intensity exercises. This will increase blood flow throughout the body to get oxygen and other nutrients to your muscles. In turn, it will help to not only build muscle but aid in a faster recovery. Aim for 35-45 minutes a few times per week. On a scale of 1 to 10 you should feel the workload be around a 7. The best options of low intensity cardio are:
Do just a little HIIT
As much as we all love a HIIT and its benefits, when it comes to building muscle, this should be done sparingly. Aim for 1-2 times per week on non-consecutive days and when you’re well rested.
Speaking of rest…
This is a big one. As important as all the above is, it means nothing without adequate rest. Building muscle puts stress on muscle fibers and for gains and weight loss to happen proper recovery is essential. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night. As a bonus, add in a good meditation practice as proper breathing techniques help to relax the body and promote recovery.
If you’re ready to achieve your fitness goals and make muscle gains and weight loss happen contact us and get started today!