As we all start planning out and executing our new diets for the year, we always want to ensure that we are doing what is best for us and our bodies. This usually means that we want a diet that will allow us to lose body fat, yet allow us to maintain our muscle mass. While some people might think this can be something extremely complicated that requires a lot of calculating and planning, it can actually be almost the complete opposite of that. All we really need to do in order to accomplish this is two simple things: watch the amount of calories we consume, and eat more protein. Here are some tips on how to do these things in order for us to succeed.
Watching Our Calorie Intake
This is going to be one of the biggest players when it comes to losing weight. This essentially determines whether we are going to be losing weight or not. Most of us have the workout part of the whole “diet and exercise” mantra down, so all we really need to focus on is the diet part. In order for us to lose weight, we need to get ourselves to be at a caloric deficit. However, we walk a fine line when it comes to putting ourselves at a caloric deficit while trying to maintain our muscle mass. This is because when we put ourselves at a caloric deficit, this causes our body to tap into our fat stores for the energy it needs. Where this can become a problem is if we are putting ourselves at such a large deficit, that it is causing our body to tap into our protein and carb stores. This in turn will have the body taking what our muscles need to recover and use it for energy so it itself can keep up and running. This is why knowing how many calories on average we burn throughout the day is important. Whether we get that number from a fitness tracker or from a machine like the InBody scan, this helps give us an idea of the number of calories we need to consume in a day. Once we have that number we are able to determine a calorie goal for us for the day (and don’t forget to take into account your workouts!). Just as a general rule of thumb, for every 3,500 calories we are at a deficit of (or surplus) that will be one pound either lost or gained. So if we are wanting to maintain our muscle while we are cutting away at our fat, we want to be a little less aggressive on our calorie deficit for each day. If we are over aggressive with the amount of calories we cut, we will find that we will feel sluggish and lacking energy throughout the day. As far as the amount of calories that we choose to cut in a day, this is something that will be different from individual to individual.
Eating More Protein
Since we are wanting to maintain our muscle throughout the cutting process, it is pertinent that we keep a higher amount of protein in our diet. Having a higher amount of protein will give our muscles the fuel that they need to be able to recover properly. Since we are consuming less calories overall, we will find that our body will be using everything that we put into it. So by us adding more protein, we will be ensuring that our muscles are being given what they need. Also making sure that we are consuming protein after our workout is going to be more crucial than ever as well. Since we are consuming less calories, if we don’t eat something after we workout, that is when our body will start tapping into other sources besides our fat to make up for the energy lost during the workout. As I’ve mentioned before, eating more protein will also help keep us feeling more full throughout the day. Which is one of the biggest complaints when people are cutting calories, that they are always hungry. So by adding more protein into our diet, we will be setting ourselves up for success both in the fat cutting process and the muscle building process.
As you can see, losing fat while maintaining muscle doesn’t have to be something that feels like a huge project. We can do this by simply doing two main things: cutting calories and eating more protein. Once you find the number that works best for you and allows you to run at your optimal capacity, you’ll find that this whole process can be a walk in the park! I’m always here with a listening ear if you have ideas you want to run by me, I promise I don’t bite! Let’s start 2021 off in the right direction!
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