It is possible to do both at the same time.
Putting on muscle is hard work — and losing body fat at the same time is just as difficult.
This was my goal when I began bodybuilding.
Unfortunately, I had a short window of time to attain both goals, which was tough. As a result, a strict diet and exercise ruled my life for a long time.
I learned a lot along the way. It is possible to lose body fat and build muscle simultaneously.
You have to know what to do, which takes some time and experimentation.
A personal trainer or nutritionist can only do so much. Our bodies react in many different ways & no two people are the same.
The basics here still apply — but tweaks are necessary along the way.
One: Lifting heavy and moderate weights is a must
One thing I learned through my weight training journey is that it’s necessary to lift both heavy and moderate weights.
Muscle needs constant progressive resistance, and we must constantly overload to allow our muscles to grow and make adaptations.
Lifting the same weight won’t stimulate your muscles to grow and become stronger.
Increasing strain is essential, although it’s not always comfortable! However, as we continuously overload, we will quickly see some great progression.
As we build mature muscle, increasing those levels requires extra effort.
It does get harder as you age too!
So, don’t be afraid of lifting heavier or lowering the weight a notch to get more repetitions. Both strategies are necessary to gain muscle and become stronger.
Two: Rest as much as you train
Pay close attention to your performance regularly.
Is it lagging somewhat? Are you becoming more lethargic or sore for prolonged periods? That means you might require some extra recovery time.
Prioritise the quality and quantity of sleep during your lifetime. Sleep is a very big indicator of my effort levels, and I can see a difference in my performance.
But sleep isn’t the only thing you must watch — it’s also calorie intake.
It’s ok to add about 200 extra calories per day.
Weight training requires a bit of added bulk to help perform those lifts and give us the necessary recovery fuel.
So don’t be afraid of eating more calories, as long as it’s the whole food, within your caloric range and assists your training goals.
No one can tell you how much is too much. Experimentation and keeping a watchful eye on your body composition is the only way to find out.
Three: Eat your protein — not just animal
Protein is key to building muscle, and plant-based varieties will do well as animal varieties.
One key component that plant-based protein has is high levels of fibre.
Fibre is key to feeding the good guys in our gut. Unfortunately, too much animal protein can mess with the intricacies of our microbiome.
So, add some lentils, beans or edamame as a key protein source during the week.
Yes, they are a bit higher in carbs, but carbs are still essential. In addition, plant-based pulses help you lose weight
and feed your microbiome.
Over the long term, having enough good bacteria will help us absorb our nutrients and keep our weight in check.
Four: Keep track of your progress
It’s really important to keep a watchful eye on your progression.
For example, are you losing weight and gaining muscle — or is it something else? Discovering that not much is happening may be uncomfortable, but this is how you can tweak your progress to get results.
It might mean sharpening your nutrition by eating lower-caloric sources of protein.
Other times, it’s probably a hormone problem, or we may develop insulin resistance.
So there are many reasons why weight loss or muscle building isn’t happening.
It’s our job to peel back the layers to find out.
First, a caloric deficit is a must, but that doesn’t mean less food. Instead, it’s about eating the right foods to maintain your shape.
Key take away
It would help if you implemented the right strategies to lose weight and build muscle.
It takes a balance of nutrition and training and rests on making it happen.
We are all such individual creatures that it’s a matter of trial and error to uncover what would work best for your metabolism and individualised genetic makeup. But, of course, some people might find it easier than others.
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