How to Lose Fat (Not Muscle)
The clocks have sprung forward and spring is apparently here. And while the weather forecast may indicate differently, bathing suit season is just around the corner. If you’ve spent the better part of winter bundled up inside, with great TV and hearty meals, there may be some dieting on the menu over the next few months.
Whether you’re experienced with the seasonality of the bulk/cut cycle, or it’s your first foray into shedding those winter layers, spring is a common time to slim down. But your goal shouldn't be to simply lose numbers on the scale. Instead, spring dieters should be focused on reducing their body fat percentage.
Losing Weight vs. Losing Fat
When people talk about losing weight, what they’re really referring to is losing fat. There are very few people who actually want to reduce their bone density and give up strength. But unfortunately, when you cut your calories, fat isn’t the only thing your body tries to get rid of.
If your weight loss plan is entirely based on eating less, you should expect to see the same proportionate weight loss in both muscle and fat. However, with the right training and nutrition plan, you can tip the scales and influence the type of pounds you shed.
Eat Less, But Not Too Much Less
If you’ve got a weight loss goal, it’s tempting to be as aggressive as possible with your diet. But when you cut your food intake too much, it can actually do more harm than good. A 2011 study compared how the rate of weight loss affects body composition and they found that gradual weight loss allows dieters to maintain a better body fat percentage. Experts recommend reducing your calories intake by a maximum of 25% and aiming to lose no more than 1 lb/week.
Eat Enough Protein
Protein is a building block for muscle growth, maintenance, and regeneration. It helps you recover after training and keeps you feeling full for longer. When your fat-loss regimen calls for a reduction in calories, your protein intake should be the last thing you look to reduce. If you deprive your body of protein from food sources, it will look to its existing muscle stores for fuel. Instead, cut back on carbs, especially outside of your pre-workout meal(s). Most experts recommend that you consume 1 gram of protein for every pound of body weight. So, a person that weighs 150 lb should look to get 150 g of protein, every day.
Maintain a Strength Training Regimen
While its most often talked about for its effect on muscle development, resistance training is also great for mitigating muscle loss. From an evolutionary perspective, our bodies are wired to keep only what’s necessary and eliminate what goes unused. Regular training tells your system that your muscle is important and necessary for survival. As a result, your body will prioritize and protect its muscle tissue as it gets rid of excess weight. Experts recommend that dieters perform resistance training 3-5 days per week. As always, it’s important to pay attention to your body and allow yourself enough time to recover, especially if you’re running on less food.
Make Time for Rest and Recovery
When you reduce your caloric intake, you are literally starving your body of nutrients, and this can negatively affect your ability to recover from stress. To ensure you’re making the most of your time in the gym, it’s important to get enough rest. Studies show that sleep deprivation can adversely affect how your body handles insulin and stores fat. If you’re not getting enough rest, you may not see the fat loss you expect.
Protein powder is a great way to boost your protein intake, especially when you’re on a calorie controlled diet. A scoop of Suppy protein powder delivers 24 grams of protein and contains only 125 calories. Why not pick some up for your spring-time cut?