That’s what we’ve heard is the key to weight loss throughout our lives. And while it may be true, using it as the only principle behind weight loss may affect what KIND of weight we lose.
It’s simple: Consume too few calories or burn more than your body needs & it will look to sources of fuel. That means fat or muscle. Your body doesn’t differentiate if it’s in dire need of fuel and if your lifestyle is not one that promotes one type of weight loss over the other.
The problem here, as great as weight loss can be, is that you may lose 20 pounds and feel great, but your body composition will have changed for the worse. Losing muscle decreases your strength, lowers your metabolism, and ultimately provides your body with less support, especially as you get older. The target here is to lose those 20, 30, or even 50 pounds without ending up with excess flab & negligible muscle.
How do we do that? By following some simple rules:
1) Consume enough protein & make sure your calories are all good quality
The current “Recommended Dietary Allowance” of protein is 0.80 grams per kilogram of body weight. If you’re looking to lose weight AND gain muscle, it’s about 1 gram per pound. Make sure you’re eating that much per day, and try to keep your calories good quality: lean proteins (chicken, lean beef, fish, beans, nuts), whole grain and unprocessed carbohydrates, and unsaturated fats (in nuts, olive oil, peanut butter, etc)
2) Engage in Resistance Training Exercises 3x a Week
Make sure they’re challenging workouts, but not too difficult that your body will spend more time and energy than necessary recovering. Experts in the bodybuilding industry warn against this because you might actually lose muscle if you push your muscles too hard.
3) Don’t starve yourself & eat small, frequent meals
When your body consumes way too few calories, it goes into starvation mode. Starvation mode means that everything is game: fat & muscle. To avoid that, cut back on calories moderately (talk to your weight loss coach). Eat 5-6 small meals throughout the day or 3 moderate meals with healthy snacking in between. This will keep your metabolism working and prevent your body from entering starvation mode.
4) Think about high intensity cardio
Livestrong.com suggests that 20-minute high intensity workouts 3 times a week are a great way to burn a lot of calories without pushing your body to dig into muscle stores. Your heart is worked adequately, you burn calories, & your muscles are forced to work for just the right amount of time.
5) Listen to your weight loss coach
Ask your coach, as well as fitness professionals, about specifics of implementing these points.