How to Cut: 5 Ways to Lose Fat while Keeping Muscle Mass
Keep Your Hard Earned Muscle!
Why is "keeping muscle tissue" so important if our focus is to get lean, toned, and ready to look great wearing less?!?
- Muscle Tissue is metabolically more active and burns a lot more calories than fat! The more muscle tissue you have on your frame the larger your resting energy expenditure, which means your body rapidly burns calories while doing nothing! Say what?
- Maximizing our gym efforts. Nobody likes to waste time. Spending time in the gym, gaining strength and muscle mass, only to lose it while getting lean is a waste of your time and efforts.
- Shape! If you want to have GI Jane shape, toned arms, abs, a booty worth smacking (tee he he) you have to develop muscle so that your body has shape.
- Youth! We lose muscle as we age, this is a curve we want to get ahead of. Weight training is the secret fountain of youth. If our bodies have quality muscle tissue we have firmness and fullness to our skin and body frame that carries a youthful look.
Back to business. Whatever the reason you've decided it's time to shred some body fat, and you're assuming the price to pay is hunger, bland foods, increased cardio, fatigue, extra time mapped into your day, a little suffering maybe, and social sacrifice. [ cue the Rocky music ]
If you follow any intense fitness routine while on a caloric deficit, things get harder, sometimes you feel weak, and you often feel like you are just going through the motions in the gym because your current goal is fat loss, not strength or muscle gain.
I'm here to tell you it doesn't need to be one or the other, you can absolutely burn fat, without putting yourself through a gauntlet physically, and mentally.
You can keep your muscle, strength, and energy, while effectively shredding unwanted body fat. Here's what I want you to know..
- Plan your meal around your protein source; chicken, beef, tempeh, fish, ground turkey, eggs, etc. Make sure you are getting an adequate amount per meal, along with the carbohydrates and fats make up the rest of your meal.
- I tell my clients to remember "Protein makes you pretty" , it's an easy way to drill home the importance of planning your meals starting with protein. Ladies, our hair health, our skin vibrance, our firmness of body tone are all impossible without ample amounts of protein.
- Every cell in the human body contains protein. Your body needs protein in your diet to help your body repair cells and make new ones. Also, the body doesn't store protein like the body can store carbohydrates and dietary fats, so it's important to have protein with each meal.
- Eating enough protein naturally leaves less hunger for excessive fats and carbs.
- How much protein is enough? The easiest answer is 1gram of protein per 1 lb. of body weight. [it is also acceptable to be within .75 - 1.5 grams per lb of body weight]
FIND AND MAINTAIN A SMALL TO MODERATE CALORIC DEFICIT / LARGE DEFICITS & CRASH DIETS DON'T WORK:
- YES! Your body must be in a caloric deficit to burn body fat!
- Huge calorie deficits are not enjoyable, not sustainable, and don't render faster results.
- The body can't store protein (amino acids) the same way the body can store extra carbohydrates. Therefore, it's likely that if you've made a deep cut into your daily calories, your body will burn muscle mass for the amino acid/protein needs you're not meeting with your food intake.
- After a few days of "starving" (this is how your body sees it.. your body's only goal is to keep you alive and to maintain an endocrine system balance to keep you healthy... newsflash, your body doesn't care about your six-pack goals or your thigh gap dreams) Rapid caloric deficits force your HPA Axis (hypothalamus, pituitary, and adrenal glands) into survival mode, sending SOS signals to all your bodies key players to do what it takes to survive.
- In SOS mode your body alerts your thyroid to hold onto fat, burn less sugars, knowing that if "I keep getting starved I'll need this for later for fuel."
- With thyroid downregulation, your body switches its fuel source....and it starts to break down and metabolize muscle. You can see the problem here. Throughout our fat loss journey, we need to keep our body fueled with the right nutrients, and we need to understand that it needs protein, carbs, and fats, in the right amounts, coming from the right foods.
- What is a good caloric deficit to start with? A general 'simple rule' is to start with 300-500 calories or 15-20% less than what you're currently consuming. (However, if you're currently undereating, this won't work)
- First, you need to track how much you're consuming for 3 days. You can also use the TDEE Calculator for deeper info here: https://tdeecalculator.net/
EAT WHOLE FOODS:
- Real foods are the right foods. It is hard to go wrong if you plan your meals around real, whole foods. Think of real food as things that aren't processed, refined, or full of words you can't pronounce listed under ingredients.
- Consume protein, carbs, and fats. They are all needed for balanced body functions.
- Real food or whole food examples include all fresh vegetables, chicken breasts, steak, potatoes, eggs, fruits, and nuts.
- Processed food examples include cereal, bread, snack bars, pasta, pizza, or anything with a ton of additives.
- By eating real food throughout the day, feel fulfilled, and still keep your calories under control. Calories from processed foods add up much faster (a pack of Pop-Tarts is 400 calories...that could have been a large nutrient-dense meal instead!).
- Ahhh, it seems so obvious but I see women commonly push strength training to the back burner when they are focused on getting lean. WHY? Well, with our new age of technology we all "track" our fitness in some way. Chances are, you've noticed that 30 min of cardio burns more calories than 30 min of strength training.
- Lifting weight and working against resistance is necessary for strength gain, bone density, and growing or maintaining muscle mass.
- Remember muscle burns 2.5x more calories at rest than fat. Keeping and gaining muscle = a high and healthy metabolism!
USE STEADY STATE AEROBIC CARDIO
- With any fat loss goals, you need cardio training. Yet choosing the right type of cardio will either maintain or destroy the muscle you've worked so hard to gain.
- Using slower aerobic exercise like an incline treadmill will elevate your heart rate to burn calories while keeping your body in a fat-burning zone and protecting the muscle on your frame.
- It's important for me to say, any cardio is better than no cardio. As we juggle out busy lives, if you only have 15 minutes for a quick and hard HIIT session then do it! In the scope of fat-burning, any cardio is superior to none.
It's all about balance. We want to balance and manage our nutrition with preparation and smart choices. We can make adjustments that directly target fat loss, without inflicting collateral damage onto the rest of our body.
We never need to sacrifice muscle, our livelihood, or mental health in order to drop and keep off excess fat.
We can direct and push our bodies towards our goal, without ever "shocking" or attacking our body with drastic measures. There is no "price to pay" for burning fat other than a little planning and preparation in the kitchen, along with some other simple adjustments.
Would you like some help reaching your goal, WITHOUT collateral damage?
If so, I like to start my women off in the kitchen. Here is my free guide on Mastering Your Meal Prep to Stop Failing Your Fitness Goals.
Ready to dive in and test drive a week with our "done for you" option? Lean into our 7 Day Food and Fitness Fix.
Drop any questions in the comments and I'm happy to help!
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