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If you want to build lean muscle while losing fat, it’s important to do more than just burn more calories with exercise. You also need to eat in a way that helps you build lean muscle.
Is this even possible? The short answer is yes, but it won’t happen overnight. It takes time to build new muscle tissue and burn fat simultaneously, so you can lose unwanted body fat and reveal that lean, toned look.
Fact: Your body requires a certain level of fat in order to support it’s normal functions, like keeping your brain functioning correctly and keeping certain organs intact.
So, you can’t really go below 12% body fat if you wanted to and remain alive. That said, your body needs some time to put on weight, and once it does, it realizes that it has been eating more than what it needs and tries to get rid of the excess calories through burning fat.
So before saying that you need to eat less in order to lose fat, give your body some time (maybe a month or two) in order for it to adjust how much calories it wants regularly every day.
Getting rid of excess fat and adding lean muscle may be the most challenging health goal there is…but it’s completely possible if you follow these guidelines:
To begin, let’s discuss the process of building muscle and losing fat at the same time.
Building Muscle While Losing Fat
Understand What You Need to Do
Any diet with a caloric deficit will cause weight loss but not specific or significant fat loss. That is because as soon as your body realizes that it’s getting fewer calories, it would try to get more of the calories by burning more fat and losing muscle mass as well.
If you are to lose fat, you should do it through a combination of proper diet and some weight training. When you are trying to build muscle and lose fat, it is best to set up a full 12-week cycle. The reason for this is so that you can figure out how many calories your body requires based on your workout program, activity levels, and body type.
Most people don’t realize their number because they go on a fad diet to get in shape rather than doing some proper research, but these diets aren’t sustainable in the long term.
As we said above, to lose fat, you need to create a caloric deficit. This means taking in fewer calories than your body needs for energy. Your body will then use fat as energy in order to function properly, which is what burning fat is all about.
On the other hand, creating a caloric surplus will cause your body to store any excess calories as fat. This way, the excess calories won’t be used for energy or muscle growth.
In doing this, you are actually preventing yourself from building muscle or losing fat, and that doesn’t make any sense at all! Many people fail to understand this concept and wonder why they are not getting the results they want. It’s because they are eating way too little or way too much to gain muscle or lose fat.
The reason you should set up a 12-week cycle is so you can find out and get used to eating at your maintenance level of calories, which is the number your body needs every day for basic functioning.
This will also allow you to build muscle and lose fat if you want to. After that, it will become easier to dial in your calorie intake for each goal separately because other factors like building muscle or losing fat won’t be affecting it as much.
The number of calories your body needs to function properly will differ from person to person. Use the following formula and you can get a general idea of how many calories you are eating every day:
Take your body weight in pounds and multiply it by 12. This will give you an estimate of how many calories your body needs to function properly every day. If this number is over 2,000, then you are most likely overeating.
When trying to build muscle and lose fat at the same time, you need to follow these guidelines:
Follow a Well-Balanced Nutrition Plan
Your nutrition plan aims to help you lose fat and build lean muscle and increase your energy levels. Here’s why: When you regularly eat more calories than your body needs, most of them will be converted into stored body fat.
To maintain your weight, you must eat just enough calories to meet your daily energy needs and keep stored body fat balanced with lean muscle tissue.
If you don’t eat enough, your body will start to use its own lean tissue (muscle) for fuel. This process is known as “catabolism,” and it’s one of the major reasons most people can’t lose weight.
Here’s How it Happens:
If you don’t eat enough calories – especially from protein and healthy carbohydrates – then the hormones that control hunger, like leptin and ghrelin, will decrease and increase simultaneously while serotonin levels (which make you feel full) decrease.
All of this leads to intense hunger and cravings for unhealthy foods. Eating these types of foods will only make you hungrier and more stressed, which leads to further overeating. To avoid this vicious cycle, you must eat enough calories, but the right kinds of calories.
But your well-balanced nutrition plan should include all nutrients in the right proportions–too much or too little of any macronutrient can negatively affect your ability to build muscle while shedding fat.
Eat Enough Protein to Help You Maintain Your Lean Muscle Mass and Strength
Most people won’t lose their hard-earned muscle if they don’t eat enough protein. But if you aren’t working out too much or don’t have a very active lifestyle, then your body is likely to start breaking down lean tissue (muscle) for energy because of the lack of amino acids.
If you don’t get enough protein while trying to lose weight or burn fat, then some of those losses will be lean body mass as well. So how much protein do you need to build muscle?
Experts agree that 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight per day is a good starting point, and will provide enough amino acids for new muscle growth and body repairs. That’s about 125 grams of protein for a person who weighs 125 pounds.
Your goal should be to increase your protein consumption by about 0.3 grams per pound every week or two until you reach at least 1 gram of protein per pound. The amount you’ll need depends on your physical activity level, goals, weight, and gender.
Less active people may not need as much while very active people might need more. The goal is to find something that works for you. Protein is necessary for building muscle in the body, but it can also help control appetite so that you don’t feel hungry all the time. When you’re trying to lose fat, make sure you get enough protein.
A 2005 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that protein helps decrease appetite and increase feelings of fullness, so it’s easier to eat fewer calories. Protein is also needed for muscle growth and repair after your workouts.
The Post-Workout Meal
The post-workout meal is probably the most important meal of the day if you attempt to build muscle mass. The post-workout meal is extremely important because it serves as a “nutrition checkpoint” and an opportunity for growth.
After performing a workout, the body is more sensitive to insulin, the body’s main anabolic hormone. The post-workout meal also allows the nutrients absorbed from food to be distributed to vital organs and muscle tissue instead of fat stores. The nutrient distribution of an efficiently timed post-workout meal is crucial for growth and recovery.
Do Interval Training
Interval training, which entails alternating high-intensity and low-intensity exercise periods, is a powerful way to burn fat and increase the body’s metabolism.
It has been shown to provide more beneficial results than endurance training, which involves exercising for a longer time at a lower intensity. Do this 3 to 4 times per week for maximum results.
Include High-Intensity Interval Training(HIIT)
High-intensity Interval Training(HIIT) is going to rev up your metabolism and boost lean muscle acquisition. Unlike Interval Training, HIIT focuses on you completing short but intense exercises at a high intensity.
The best example of this is a sprint. You sprint for about 10 seconds and then rest for 30 seconds or so before you start again. The intense exercise should be done at about 80 to 90 percent of your maximum heart rate, while the recovery phases should last up to 2 minutes.
Some studies on HIIT and fat loss suggest that it helps burn more calories after the workout as well. Experts recommend you complete at least one HIIT workout per week, with a typical session lasting between 10 and 15 minutes. This type of training will also improve your overall athleticism.
Keep An Eye On Your Portions.
Keep an eye on your portions to avoid overeating and gaining weight. Eating a large plate of pasta, for example, may seem like a good idea at the time, but after you eat it, your body might not be able to burn all the calories stored in the pasta because you ate too much.
Smaller plates help. People who serve themselves off smaller plates tend to lose more weight. Foods that are less processed are also more filling. But if you don’t want to give up your favorite treats, use small dishes for snacks or meals instead of giving yourself heaping bowls.
A study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics also found that people who ate slowly felt satisfied with less food than those who ate quickly, helping them lose weight.
You’ll eat less if you chew more, and if you chew more, there’s a good chance you will enjoy your meal more.
Eating slower won’t always help you lose weight. People who are obese may not be as responsive to the hormone leptin, which is triggered by feeling full and part of the reward system.
Lift Heavy Weights
Weight training is highly effective at building muscle. It helps you build muscle quickly and burns a decent amount of calories so it can help with weight loss.
When you lift weights, your muscles are forced to work harder than during low-intensity cardio. This causes the muscles to break down and repair more rapidly.
In addition, new muscle is formed as well as additional mitochondria and capillaries that help the muscle cells perform better. All of those extra mitochondria and capillaries cause more blood flow to the muscle area which helps your body burn more calories even when you are resting.
Also, your muscles become more efficient at burning fat during your normal workouts. This is because lifting weights increases your metabolism.
In fact, you can increase your metabolism by as much as 15% through weight training alone, according to some studies. This means that you burn more calories and fat even when you are doing rest days or low-intensity cardio sessions.
Therefore, the more lean muscle tissue that you have, the higher your overall metabolic rate will be no matter what activity you do throughout the day.
If you’re looking for a shortcut, don’t expect to gain muscle and burn fat simultaneously. You have to do more than just train and eat right to see the best results.
That said, there are some things you can do inside the gym that will enhance your fat loss efforts outside it. For example, supersets are a great way to drop body fat and build muscle together.
Supersets are a pair of exercises performed back-to-back with no rest in between for a given set. For example, a set of bench presses followed immediately by a set of bent-over rows; or 12 reps of squats followed by 12 reps for the lunges (leg press). Two or three sets with no rest in between burn a ton of calories and is great for building muscle.
Eat more fiber
What you eat makes a huge difference in how quickly you reach your dream body…or not. Research shows that people who eat a high-fiber diet tend to weigh less than people who don’t.
Besides, high-fiber eaters have lower body fat than those who don’t get enough fiber. The reason: high-fiber foods generally take longer to digest, so you feel full longer and are less likely to overeat.
Without your pituitary, thyroid, or adrenal glands working properly, you can forget about building muscle and burning fat. These three glands produce all of the key hormones involved in metabolic processes such as fat burning and muscle building…or not.
The problem is that many drugs, supplements, and even foods can disrupt these glands’ function. For example, alcohol, chronic stress, and sugar can throw off the production of key hormones, such as human growth hormone and testosterone. To build muscle and burn fat at the same time, you must maintain optimal levels of hormones naturally produced by your body.
Work with a coach
Studies show that people who trained without a trainer were less successful than those who trained with one.
Researchers also found that those who worked out with a personal trainer not only reached their weight loss goals faster but they continued to lose weight after the study was over.
Most people don’t know their limitations when it comes to exercise, so having a fitness professional track your progress is key.
Sleep 7-8 hours a day
It’s obvious when you don’t get enough sleep: you feel fatigued, cranky, and less coordinated. What isn’t so obvious is that lack of sleep can actually slow down your metabolism, causing the body to store more fat and making it harder to build lean muscle.
It also contributes to depression and other mental health issues linked with obesity…and eating more food. So the first thing you could do to build muscle and burn fat is to make sure you’re getting enough quality sleep every night (7-8 hours).
Eat Fewer Carbs
The more carbs you eat, the less fat you burn. This is because carbohydrates are used before fat at a metabolic level. Cutting back on carbs will force your body to burn more fat for fuel and keep insulin low, which signals your body to use stored fat rather than stored carbohydrates. Lower carbs = less insulin = more lean muscle tissue = less body fat (which is a good thing).
Now that you know how to lose fat and build lean muscle go ahead and start doing both!
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