Can you lose weight and build muscle at the same time? Slimming down while developing muscle is the dream, right? Well, it’s definitely possible, especially if you have a lot of weight to lose or if you’re just getting started with fitness. In both of those cases, the body is very responsive, which makes your results really noticeable.
Losing fat and building muscle
As a general rule, building muscle requires an increase in caloric intake. Muscle-building exercises are intense for your muscle fibers, which means you need to eat more, not less.
“Eat more, not less? When I’m trying to lose weight?” Yes, you read that right.
Everyone says that, if you want to lose weight, you need to consume fewer calories than you use each day. So is it really possible to gain muscle while losing fat?
The answer is yes. As you develop your muscle mass, you become more muscular (obviously) and feel stronger (it will happen), but that’s not all:
Building muscle leads to an increase in your basal metabolic rate, resulting in a higher natural caloric expenditure. This means that you’ll burn fat more easily, but be careful! You’ll also need to consume enough calories for your muscles (which consume a lot of energy) to do their job during training sessions (and to maintain that high metabolism).
I know it may sound scary to eat more when you’re trying to lose weight. But limiting your caloric intake is a bad idea because it can cause muscle loss along with your potential weight loss. Muscle is what gives your body that toned look. It would be a shame to lose that. Losing muscle also leads to a drop in your basal metabolic rate (and as I just mentioned, the higher your metabolism is, the more easily it burns fat).
Before you begin changing your body recomposition between muscle and fat, find out where you’re starting from. You can use a scale that analyzes body composition to check your weight and your fat and muscle levels. If you don’t have one, I recommend taking measurements and photos before you start, and then again every month.
Do you need a new fitness routine?
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What should you be eating to build muscle and lose fat?
Your muscles need quality caloric intake to develop. That means that protein is very important.
To build muscle while losing weight, your meals need to feature protein (especially lean protein). Here are a few ideas:
- Low-fat Greek yogurt or fromage blanc
Try it for breakfast or as a snack, with fruit or cereal. It’s high in protein (10%) and calcium (which strengthens your bones), and is highly recommended for losing weight and building muscle.
Shrimp, scallops, mussels and crab contain 25% protein, and are low in fat. They’re a smart choice for losing weight and increasing muscle mass.
- Chicken breast
Chicken breasts also contain 25% protein and are often considered a staple, since they’re so easy and fast to cook. If you use a variety of herbs and spices, chicken breasts never get boring. Choose a low-fat cooking method. Avoid frying at all costs.
- Almonds, walnuts and other oil seeds
They contain around 20% protein, which makes them the perfect snack. They’re an excellent alternative to chips and cookies.
For menu ideas featuring foods that are high in lean protein, download the NutriCoach app. You’ll receive a program and specific nutritional advice based on your goals and profile.
Don’t forget to hydrate and eat plenty of fiber (vary your sources of vegetables).
7 tips for successfully building muscle and losing fat
- Do more physical exercise, especially fitness activities that include strength training exercises. Exercise at least twice a week.
- Do not diet. Be patient. Your goal is to improve your body composition, which is a long-term objective.
- Increase training difficulty progressively, by lifting heavier weights for example.
- Choose short sets. 3 to 5 sets of 8 to 10 reps each with heavy weights. The final reps of each set should be very difficult to do. Pay attention to your technique. (To make sure you’re doing the exercises correctly, download the Fitness Coach app.)
- Taking time to recover between sets is important. So are rest days between training sessions. That’s when your muscles will really start developing!
- Vary your sessions and exercises to avoid getting into a rut. Your body has an extraordinary ability to adapt. You’ll hit a plateau if you don’t change things up. The wide variety of Fitness Coach programs available makes it easy to avoid boredom and plateaus. I highly recommend them!
- Believe in yourself! The changes you’re making will improve your health both short and long-term. It’s a big decision that will help you age gracefully and live life to the fullest.