Muscle Mass and Weight Loss: What You Need to Know & the Pitfalls Along the Way
Losing weight and getting toned at the same time? Sounds surreal, right? Oftentimes, we try to maintain a certain diet, take pills and supplements, work out at home, or even hit the gym and lift weights to build our dream body. However, achieving that muscle physique we have been going after seems like a herculean task.
Perhaps, we may need to reassess our weight loss approach and identify if it is done in a healthy or unhealthy way. Let’s get down to business!
Weight Loss Vs Fat Loss
Weight loss and fat loss seem interchangeable but are actually different. And we must understand them fully to achieve our body goals the right way.
Weight loss refers to a drop in our overall body weight. This includes muscle, water, protein, and fat losses, which may pose health risks. Fat loss, on the other hand, is a weight loss from fat mass alone. It is healthful as it can help curb the risk of several chronic diseases and age-related muscle loss.
There are many unhealthy weight loss plans and approaches that capitalize on starving the muscles and healthy fat reserves. For some, they even use the alluring words “lose weight rapidly.” Such fad and quick fixes can be downright dangerous to our health. Likewise, unhealthy and rapid weight loss can lead to more losses such as:
- Essential nutrient deprivation. Many diet plans cut out food groups with vitamins, nutrients, and minerals that our bodies need to stay healthy. This may result in lower energy levels, extreme exhaustion, compromised immune system, hair loss, brittle hair and nails, and weakened bones.
- Muscle loss. Per Healthline, we lose three to five percent of muscle mass every decade, which reduces physical function as we get older. Imagine losing more muscles just to reduce weight. This can significantly affect our strength and mobility.
- Slow metabolism. Extreme calorie deprivation with around 800 to 1,200 calories only per day causes our bodies to enter starvation mode, hence slowing down metabolism. Slow metabolism causes weight gain and chronic fatigue.
- Dehydration. Rapid water loss can lead to dehydration and side effects like headache, muscle cramps, constipation, and low energy.
Since we do not want these to happen, targeting fat loss rather than reducing our overall weight is the way to go. But how can we lose weight and gain muscle simultaneously?
Fat Loss And Muscle Gain
Fat loss and muscle gain seem impossible because of this paradox: we must eat fewer calories than we burn to reduce body fat. But to build muscle, we have to eat more calories than we burn.
Interestingly, fat loss and muscle gain can co-exist! And there is a healthy approach to weight loss while ensuring muscle gain that we should know.
Body recomposition refers to the process of modifying one’s ratio of fat mass to lean mass. This means maintaining weight while losing fat and building muscle mass, hence improving body composition. It is critical to have a healthy muscle mass to body fat ratio since it can substantially improve our health while minimizing the possibilities of contracting diseases.
Body recomposition is different from the standard “bulking and cutting” approach wherein we put on a lot of weight then undertake an intense calorie diet to burn fats and reveal the muscle. We may also keep up our current weight or gain a few pounds on a body recomposition plan. This is because body recomposition isn’t about weight loss but fat loss.
During the body recomposition process, our overall physique changes. We can observe body changes such as getting a firmer look as we go on. Timeline-wise, this takes about eight to 12 weeks for results to be noticeable. But this might still differ depending on one’s body composition. If we have a higher body fat percentage and lower lean muscle mass level when starting, the process may take longer. Nevertheless, reducing weight the right way is always worth the while.
Many think that the figures on the weight scale are the best indicators. However, we can better gauge our body status better by looking at our ratio of muscle to fat.
How To Shed Kilo’s While Gaining Lean Muscle?
What are the healthy ways we can lose fat while building muscle?
- Maintain a high-protein diet for muscle formation. Muscles use protein to grow bigger and robust, so it is best to increase protein intake. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, to gain more muscle, a person should ideally eat 1.2-1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. This is in combination with activities such as weightlifting. To burn fats, reduction of processed food intake and replacing carbohydrates with high-protein food are also recommended.
- Cycle your calorie intake. Calorie cycling means changing your calorie and macronutrient intake to match your goal for the day. To do this, identify first your maintenance calories, training day calories, and rest day calories by using an online calorie calculator or seeing a certified personal trainer or dietitian. It might also help to track your post-workout food choices.
- Undergo resistance training. To build muscle mass, we need to lift heavy weights to let our muscles tear. As our bodies go through the repair process, myofibril growth is also stimulated. This causes muscle fibers to expand, thus increasing the muscle volume. Resistance training includes using weights and resistance bands, doing push-ups, among others. Should you be working out on your period, you may also modify your workouts.
Training will entail sweating and muscle soreness, so it helps to also consider some muscle recovery tips.
In pursuit of losing weight and gaining muscle, be the tortoise and not the hare. Achieving healthy weight loss and muscle gain is a long haul, and it is best to embrace the slow-and-steady method of body recomposition. In the process, remain consistent and patient to see sustainable results.