This may be news to some, but preserving muscle mass while losing weight is just as important as any other aspect of your weight loss plan. Why? Because muscle tissue burns more calories than fat at rest. Not to mention, muscle also gives your body shape and functional ability.
Muscle building can support weight loss as muscles are highly metabolically active tissues. The more muscle you have, the higher your basal metabolic rate (BMR) will be. A higher BMR means you burn more calories at rest, thanks to your muscle mass.
Why Is Muscle Important?
The loss of muscle mass while losing weight is the quickest way to enter a yoyo weight loss/gain situation. In fact, losing muscle mass can actually be quite dangerous.
If you have too little muscle, you can’t burn enough calories to lose weight. The more muscle you lose, the harder you will have to work to lose weight. You will have to exercise twice as hard to make up for the fact that you don’t have the calorie-burning muscle to help you.
If you want to consistently lose weight and then maintain your goal weight, preserving muscle mass is key.
The great news is that preserving your muscle throughout the weight-loss process does not mean lifting heavy weights at the gym. A great way to lose weight without compromising your existing muscle mass is to boost your daily protein intake. Increasing your protein intake from the recommended 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight to 1.2 to 2.4 grams per kilogram of body weight can help you retain muscle. In this case, however, it is important that you restrict your calories by about 30% to 40%.
As a macronutrient, when you want to increase your protein intake to maintain your muscle mass, it is essential that you turn to whole food sources first. Only look at protein powders and supplements if you are having trouble meeting your protein intake requirements through the food you eat. Great whole food protein sources include eggs, nuts, beans, Greek yoghurt, seeds, cottage cheese, lentils, meat, and seafood.
When people choose calorie restriction to lose weight, they often cut out the wrong calories. Cutting down on the macronutrient protein is a sure-fire way to lose muscle mass. It is important to cut down on the right calories.
Careful With Cardio
Whilst cardio is a fantastic way to help you lose weight; it can get you into trouble when it comes to maintaining muscle.
Too much cardio eats away at your muscle, meaning you’ll have to do twice the amount of cardio just to burn calories.
A far better approach is to mix cardio and strength training together but to do so on separate days. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a popular way to both build and preserve muscle while getting in enough cardio to shed pounds.
If you would like to learn more about how you can preserve muscle mass while losing weight, contact us.