How to Maintain Muscle Mass and Lose Fat

Photo credit: Bigstockphoto
Photo credit: Bigstockphoto

Most people who turn to dieting without working out think that they are losing weight healthily. But dieting alone is not enough to maintain a fit physique.

When you are trying to lose weight, you need a fitness plan that provides long-term results. Losing weight via dieting does not provide long-term results because the weight you are losing is not fat. You are only losing your water weight. Going back to your normal eating habits means you will gain back all the weight you lost!

To lose weight effectively, you need to get rid of stored body fat and maintain muscle mass. How to do that? Consider these tips straight from the experts:

Creating a Calorie Deficit

To lose weight, you need to create a calorie deficit. The body gets its energy from the food you eat. And sometimes the amount of fuel the body needs is higher so the excess is stored as fat. To start off, create a calorie deficit of 500. This means you need to burn off 500 calories more than you get from the food you eat in a day.

Ideally, you want to regulate every meal to ensure you are not eating more than you can afford to expend. But if say, you lost weight too quickly because of rigorous dieting, you will end up losing muscles and fat. That’s a no-no!

High-Quality Protein

We simply cannot talk about maintaining lean muscles without discussing the importance of protein. Protein contains amino acids that the body needs to create muscles. And unlike carbohydrates, protein fills you up nicely so you do not end up making poor eating choices later in the day. A breakfast loaded with protein is the perfect way to start your day and maintain muscles.

According to a University of Washington study, dieters who ate twice as much protein as normal lead to a spontaneous reduction in calorie intake compared to dieters who did not eat as much protein. Simply put, protein helps decrease stored fat without losing muscles.

Resistance Training

Strength training is also an important factor to retain mass and tone the muscles. A study found that dieting + strength training is more effective in losing fat and maintaining muscles than dieting + cardio or dieting alone. In fact, the group that stuck to dieting + cardio lost twice as much muscles as those who stuck to dieting + strength training.

The type of resistance training to add to your fitness repertoire will depend on how much fat you want to lose and the level of definition you want. You can do deadlifts, squats, rows, and presses using weights. Stick to 5 to 15 reps per set for best results.

Maintain Intensity

Another important factor to consider when training is the level of intensity. You want to make sure that the amount of weight in the bar you lift is right so you do not lose muscle and fat. For instance, if you are still in your fat loss phase and you squat 300 pounds for 5 reps, make sure to keep the weight at or around the same level for maximum results.

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