Most athletes want to reduce the amount of fat in their bodies while maintaining or even increasing muscle mass. Is it possible to lose weight without losing a single gram of muscle tissue? In fact, it is quite real. After reading this article, you will learn how to minimize muscle loss while reducing body fat.
Who can burn fat and build muscles?
Previously, this option was considered impossible, because it looks as if the athlete simultaneously presses the accelerator and brake pedals. We know that gaining muscle mass requires an excess of calories in the diet, and for burning fat - on the contrary, you need a deficit of calories. These are opposite concepts that look incompatible.
However, according to some recent scientific studies, this outdated dogma has no realistic basis. So it is possible to build muscles and increase strength when burning fat. There is even a new term that describes this process - the recomposition of the body. But there are exceptions, not every athlete is capable of this.
There are four types of people who can count on simultaneous fat loss and muscle building:
- People who are overweight.
- Athletes who do not train temporarily for a long time.
- People who follow a poor exercise program and poor nutrition plan.
In the case of newcomers, this is because their potential has not yet been fully revealed. Their muscles were previously unfamiliar with strength training, so even an imperfect training program for such athletes will help them get a strong impulse for muscle growth.
Overweight people have a large supply of fat in the body, which will perfectly cover the energy needs of muscles. If such a person is also a beginner in weightlifting, it guarantees him excellent results in this direction.
Every weightlifter who has taken a long break from training should take one or two steps back, because due to a long pause in strength training, he has lost much of his strength and muscles. Fat levels may also increase during such breaks. An additional favorable factor will be the so-called "muscle memory", which allows the athlete to return to his former shape in a short period of time.
Sportsmen who follow imperfect programs and do not care about their diet plan also have a good chance of building muscle while losing fat. They need to adjust their diet and think about improving the plan of power loads, then their progress will become even more obvious.
Athletes who have been involved in sports for many years maximize their potential. Therefore, it is very difficult for them to simultaneously stimulate the growth of muscle tissue and burn fat.
Genetics also plays an important role here. If you are lucky, even after several years of training you will be able to continue to confidently progress in parallel with burning fat. Instead, if an athlete's genetic potential is below average, he or she is at risk of significant muscle loss when trying to lose fat.
Burning fat and maintaining muscle mass: a strategy
Follow the tips below to maintain muscle mass as much as possible or minimize muscle loss.
These tips apply to beginners in weightlifting, obese people, athletes after a long break in training and the genetically gifted lucky ones. They will help you achieve two goals at once - to burn fat and build muscles.
Tip 1 – a non-aggressive calorie deficit
If you have a low-fat level, then the deficit should be mild. By "mild" deficit, I mean 200-250 kcal fewer calories than needed to maintain weight. An athlete can increase this deficit by making it more distinct, for example, daily - 400-500 kcal. If the sportsman's fat level exceeds a certain figure (fifteen percent for men and twenty-five percent for women).
If the calorie deficit is more aggressive, the athlete will lose more muscle mass. He will also need to reduce the number of carbohydrates due to lack of calories, which will adversely affect the performance of training and the well-being of the weightlifter. You should not intensify this process by increasing the calorie deficit, because it will be harder for you to achieve your goal.
Tip 2 – protein priority
Protein is one of the most important nutrients needed to support the growth of your muscles. According to recent research, weightlifters who follow a high-protein diet are the most successful at maintaining muscle mass, nor are those who prefer a low-protein diet. They also noticeably lose fat.
The recommendations for protein intake for people who do not have any health problems are - 1.6-2.2 g of protein per kilogram of body weight of the athlete. The lower the fat mass, the higher the percentage of protein in the diet should be.
Tip 3 – strength trainings with loads maintenance or progression
Strength training will always have the greatest impact on maintaining and building muscle. If you make changes to your training plan and optimize it properly, you will see positive results in two or three months.
Tip 4 – little to no cardio
Every sportsman who is gaining weight should also remember that too much cardio is not what he needs. During the weight loss period, the emphasis should be on walking. Intense cardio can cause increased post-workout fatigue and increase the athlete's recovery time.
Tip 5 – at least 8 hours of sleep
Many weightlifters pay little attention to sleep in maintaining muscle mass during the shredding period. Such a mistake can be costly. Various experiments with strength-building athletes have shown that a lack of sleep can increase muscle fiber loss and reduce fat burning. This is something we very rarely think about. Therefore, it will be optimal if your sleep lasts eight or nine hours.
Follow all the tips above and you will be able to maintain muscle mass and burn maximum fat. Remember that the key principles, in this case, are perseverance and patience.