Hello, friends! :)
I wanted to chat a little about one of the most widely asked questions in the fitness world. I have wondered about it myself before, and always have clients telling me their goals are to ‘gain muscle and lose fat.’
If you have often wondered the same – you are not alone!
From a black and white perspective, it is not possible. To gain muscle, you must eat more, fueling muscle growth. To lose fat, you must eat less, putting yourself in a caloric deficit. Quite the contradiction, eh?
Yet, we see many people drop the pounds and appear to have ‘muscle.’ Why?
Well, the person may have had a great muscle base to begin with. When they lost the fat, it showcased their frame more. They are leaner, therefore appearing to have more muscle. They also may have fabulous genetics. It happens.
There is also something called recomposition: building muscle and losing fat at the same time. An expert on recomposition is Lyle McDonald. He delivers accurate, research-based information, and is very lifestyle-based.
Recomposition can occasionally be achieved. If you are already lean, it is much more difficult. If you are overweight, it may happen more easily. To learn more about recomposition, click here.
If you are looking to become more ‘toned’ or lean, you may have to change what you are doing.
If you are at/within 5-10lbs of a healthy weight, but would like to appear leaner with more muscle, you may have to build the muscle. You may need to eat a bit more and follow a regimented strength training program. It can be challenging physically and mentally, but is worth it in the end.
If you are more than 15-20lbs overweight and want to appear toned/leaner, work on losing the weight first. Follow a regimented strength program, and you will probably do some recomposition. The main goal is to get your weight into a healthy range through realistic, consistent exercise – then focus on muscle gain.
If you have no desire to gain muscle, or to look leaner and are happy with yourself, that is fabulous! However, for health reasons, you still want to have a bit of muscle mass. Find something you love – a form of strength training, group class, or yoga that will help maintain the muscle you do have.
With ‘diets’ running rampant in the beginning of this new year, I think the best thing we can focus on right now is preventing muscle loss while trying to lose those extra pounds.
Did you know that one pound of muscle burns an additional 50 calories each day? Muscle revs the metabolism, allowing us to eat more. Who doesn’t want to eat more?!
Tips to preserve muscle during weight loss:
Strength Train – cardiovascular exercise does not build muscle, so if you want it, you gotta work for it! Perform a strength training routine 1-3 times a week. And don’t worry about ‘only using the arm machines.’ It is a waste of time. Work out your BIGGEST muscles and get more bang for your buck.
Cut Down the Cardio – You cannot tell your body to lose muscle instead of fat. Doing too much cardio will burn fat and muscle. Make your cardio sessions efficient, intense, and 20-45 minutes or less. You will see better and quicker results from a change in your diet.
Eat! - If you aren’t eating enough calories, your body will drop weight very quickly. While most people desire this, it is not the best choice. You will lose more muscle, therefore slowing your metabolism. You may also look skinny-fat. Eek! No one wants that. Eat up.
Take It Slow - Again, keep those calories in a realistic, healthy range that allows you to drop .5-2 lbs per week. Not only will this keep you sane, satisfied, and consistent, it will also preserve muscle mass!
I think we all desire quick and easy weight loss at one point or another. But just like everything else, nothing comes easily unless we work at it. It is always worth it in the end!
Do you appreciate your strength? Are you concerned with muscle loss?
I have religiously lifted weights for more than 10 years, but it wasn’t until I saw my grandmother in her last years that I truly appreciated my strength. She was very weak, suffered from osteoporosis, and had a tough time lifting her limbs. I can’t help but think that some of it could have been prevented or alleviated had she done some form of strength training. However, it wasn’t happening for that stubborn Swede.
Have a fantastic evening! :)