Losing fat and gaining muscle at the same time may be the most difficult goal you can set when dieting. Normally, losing body fat is a great way to be healthier, but who is willing to lose muscle mass with how much it costs to gain it? The problem is that when a caloric deficit is created (consuming fewer calories than are burned per day), the body tends to burn a certain amount of fat before moving on to burning muscle, making you look leaner and, by, unfortunately, also weaker. Doing things right and not seeing results can be really frustrating and, unless you are a beginner in the world of weights or have been a long season without training, the process of losing fat and gaining muscle at the same time can be long and expensive. However, in this article, we are going to show you some ways to preserve your muscle mass while losing body fat.
Ways to Lose Fat and gain Muscle
1. Eat healthy fats
Forget eating those huge amounts of ice cream by watching your favourite series, because we mean eating healthy fats. Healthy fats are really helpful for gaining muscle because they can help increase your calorie intake and serve as extra fuel for your toughest workouts. They also help promote the production of hormones, such as testosterone, which can help increase muscle mass. Instead of scooping up the cocoa and hazelnut spread straight out of the jar or adding more butter to your breakfast toast to increase your fat intake, opt for foods rich in Omega-3s. This will help you lose fat and gain muscle at the same time. Omega-3 fatty acids are fats that are found naturally in oily fish, olive oil, and nuts. Some of its greatest benefits are improving heart health and gaining muscle.² In fact, one study reported a 0.5 kg increase in muscle and a 0.5 kg reduction in fat mass after 6 weeks of fatty acid supplementation omega-3.³
These are some foods rich in omega-3:
- Chia seeds
- Flax seeds
- Canola oil
2. Follow a high protein diet
It’s very obvious; If you want to create new muscle proteins, you need to eat more protein. Muscles need protein for growth and repair, so increase your intake of fish, lean meat, eggs, tofu, beans, and low-fat dairy. Many low-calorie diets tend to maintain a low protein intake, which can slow muscle growth and contribute to muscle loss. Increasing your protein intake can help minimize the loss of lean body mass. In a study of a group of healthy, young elite athletes, those who received a high-protein diet lost more weight while preserving muscle compared to those who received a more normal amount of protein in their diet. 4 In addition, proteins take longer to digest than carbohydrates, which can make you feel fuller for longer. If you feel more satiated thanks to a higher protein intake, you are less likely to have cravings for calorie foods and to consume more carbohydrates and fats. In fact, reducing your carbohydrate and fat intake in order to reduce your total dietary calorie intake can help you lose fat and gain muscle.
These are some foods rich in protein that can help you to lose Fat and gain Muscle:
- Greek yoghurt and other dairy products
- Chicken breast
- Turkey breast
- Cottage cheese
3. Don’t create too extreme a caloric deficit – (Ways to lose Fat and gain Muscle)
Contrary to what many people think, eating too little does not help you lose body fat. Extremely restricting calorie intake to lose weight is not beneficial at all for weight loss. What’s more, the weight that is lost by eating virtually nothing is more due to the loss of water and muscle than to the loss of fat. Yes, a very low calorie diet causes considerable weight loss at first, but it is mostly the weight of lean body mass (muscle), because the body desperately uses everything it can for energy, including your dear biceps. 6 Very low calorie diets are not sustainable in the long term, so be patient and reduce your calorie intake progressively to preserve muscle mass (and your happiness). To preserve as much muscle as possible while losing fat, you can start by cutting your maintenance calories between 200 and 300 calories and adjusting the deficit based on the rate at which you lose weight from there.
4. Increase your intake of vitamin D
If you spend all day in the office and go straight from work to the gym, surely you are not getting too much sun. Vitamin D is responsible for the absorption of various minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, phosphate and other important biological effects in our body, which makes it one of the most important vitamins for gaining muscle and losing fat. If your diet is low in vitamin D, it could be slowing your progress. Lack of vitamin D has been associated with reduced muscle repair and increased loss of lean body mass. 7 More research is still needed on the efficacy of vitamin D supplements as a muscle growth stimulator, but, to date, the results appear promising. So, unless you can exercise outside in the sunny hours, try to increase your intake of vitamin D.
Here are some foods with vitamin D:
- Egg yolks
- Fortified foods, such as soy milk and cereals
Since the sun is our main source of vitamin D, if you live in a country where the sun is not too bright, you may need to take a vitamin D supplement to increase your intake. Each person may need different amounts, so it is best to consult with your doctor to advise you on the most appropriate dose according to your needs. And if you are going to go out in the sun, remember to always wear sun protection.
5. Do strength training – (Ways to lose Fat and gain Muscle)
If you want to gain muscle mass while shedding body fat, obviously you will have to train with weights. In addition to the muscle gain itself, the best way to burn calories is strength training. For the best results, you should try to work your entire body at least twice a week. To do this, you can base your workouts on compound exercises such as squats, the bench press, the deadlift, the military press, the rows or the chin-ups. Compound exercises (which work more than one muscle group) help burn more calories and can be challenging. To do these types of exercises, the body needs to burn more energy (calories) and they are the best way to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time. In addition to losing weight, compound exercises can help you lift more weight in your workouts, improve your strength, and preserve muscle mass. Try to dedicate 2-3 workouts a week to compound exercises and rest at least 1-2 days a week so your body can recover and avoid possible injury.
If you want to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time, you need to create a caloric deficit and provide the body with adequate nutrients to promote muscle growth. Increase your intake of protein, healthy fats, and vitamin D, and build a good strength-training program with adequate rest. This way, you can preserve as much muscle as possible while focusing on fat loss.