How do you lose fat and not muscle?

Weight loss refers to a decrease in the overall body weight due to the loss of muscle, water, and fat. Fat loss refers to losing weight from fat, which is a more specific and healthy goal than losing weight. However, it can be difficult to know if you are losing weight through fat or muscle. This article explains why losing fat is more important than losing weight, how you can distinguish between the two, and offers tips for losing fat and maintaining muscle.

Ways to know if you are losing fat

It is common practice to track weight loss progress using a scale. While this may be helpful, most scales do not differentiate between fat loss and muscle loss. For this reason, tracking your weight alone is not a reliable way to determine if and how much you are losing fat or muscle. Conversely, a bathroom scale can provide a more accurate picture of your body composition by measuring your fat and muscle percentage.

Focus on losing fat, not losing weight

Many weight loss programs claim to help you lose weight quickly and easily. However, it is important to realize that a large portion of this weight can include water and muscle loss. Muscle loss can be harmful because muscle is an essential part of your overall health. Maintaining a healthy proportion of muscle has many benefits, such as regulating healthy blood sugar levels, maintaining healthy fats, such as triglycerides and cholesterol, and controlling inflammation.

In fact, many studies have linked a high fat-to-muscle ratio to chronic diseases such as metabolic syndrome, heart disease, and diabetes. Maintaining muscle mass can also reduce the risk of age-related muscle loss, which leads to weakness and potential disability. Also, the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn at rest. This is the main reason why men generally need more calories than women. Therefore, losing weight as muscle can reduce the number of calories you burn at rest, making it easier to regain lost weight as fat.

How to lose fat and keep or gain muscle

There are some simple ways to ensure that you lose weight as fat and maintain or gain muscle mass. It’s about eating plenty of protein, exercising regularly, and following a nutrient-dense diet that puts you in a slight calorie deficit.

Eat a lot of protein

Protein is an important nutrient for a whole range of body functions. They are needed to make enzymes that aid digestion and energy production, regulate fluid balance, and support immune health, among other functions. Protein is also important for maintaining the muscle you have and promoting the growth of new muscle, especially when losing weight.

In a 4-week study, young adults were randomly assigned to follow a low-calorie diet containing either 1.2 or 2.4 grams per kilogram of body weight, along with an intense exercise program. While both groups lost a significant amount of weight, the men on the high-protein diet lost 1.3 kg more fat mass and gained 1.1 kg more muscle than the men on the low-protein diet.

Importantly, the study found that high-intensity resistance exercise followed by a protein-rich snack made the biggest difference. In addition, it limited men’s fat intake to create a calorie deficit and to maintain carbohydrate intake for adequate energy for exercise. And while eating plenty of protein on a low-calorie diet without resistance training doesn’t help you gain muscle, it may help you retain muscle while increasing fat loss.

A review of 20 studies in men and women aged 50 and over found that a high-protein diet containing at least 1 gram per kilogram resulted in greater muscle mass retention and greater fat loss than a low-protein diet. Although protein requirements vary with age, health, gender, and level of physical activity, a daily protein intake of 1 to 1.6 grams per kilogram of body weight can promote the maintenance of muscle mass and fat loss when dieting. Of protein 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight per day.

physical exercise

Exercise is the most effective way to encourage fat loss rather than muscle loss. An analysis of 6 studies found that older adults with obesity who did cardio and strength training at least 3 times a week while following a calorie-restricted diet retained 93% more muscle than those who didn’t exercise. Certainly, exercise alone is an effective strategy for maintaining muscle mass as part of a diet, but a combination of exercise and increased protein intake can help improve your results. Aim to do at least 150 to 300 minutes per week of cardio and strength training that includes all major muscle groups.

Follow a low-calorie diet

To lose weight, you must create a calorie deficit. You can create a calorie deficit by eating fewer calories or exercising, but both are preferred.
However, reducing calories too much can result in more muscle loss than fat. Instead, try to moderate the number of calories you eat by 500 to 600 per day to reduce muscle loss while facilitating fat loss. You can reduce the number of calories you eat by eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, low-fat dairy, sugary foods and drinks, processed meats, and fried foods.

What to remember to lose fat instead of muscle

Weight loss refers to a decrease in overall body weight, while fat loss refers to weight loss that occurs specifically from the loss of body fat. To monitor fat loss, using a scale that calculates fat mass is more useful than simply tracking body weight.

Another easy way to measure fat loss is to measure the inches lost at the waist and hips, and note any changes in the way your clothes fit around your waist. Losing weight as fat rather than muscle should be the priority, given how important the fat-to-muscle ratio is to your overall health.
You can prioritize fat loss by eating plenty of protein, exercising, and restricting calories in moderation.

* Presse Santé strives to convey health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In any case, the information provided cannot replace the advice of a health professional.

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