How to Lose Weight and Build Muscle At The Same Time — According to Science

How to Lose Weight and Build Muscle At The Same Time — According to Science

It’s the ultimate goal for those wanting to change their body shape fast

I admit this is one of my ultimate goals. When I was grinding it in the gym to prepare for a bodybuilding show, my training program always consisted of the ways and means to build as much muscle mass while staying as lean as possible. Was I successful? Yes and no. It was a bit of an unknown venture, and my trainer and I managed to get it right — most of the time. But what is the actual key to building muscle and staying lean? Thankfully, researchers at the McMaster Univerity have uncovered evidence to help us start making the necessary changes to our diet and training to make this a reality. The study consisted of 40 young men (no women, unfortunately), and these men underwent some gruelling training for a month. The training was in conjunction with a cut in dietary energy. Professor Stuart Philip says, “ This was a gruelling affair. These guys were in rough shape, but that was part of the plan. We wanted to see how quickly we could get them into shape, lose body fat but retain muscle, and improve strength and fitness simultaneously.” That sounds pretty tough to me — but alas, it’s the pathway towards making the ultimate body shape changes! While this happened, the researchers divided these guys into two groups —  one with a higher protein level. Both were on a low-calorie diet. It’s not surprising that the higher protein group experienced the most gains, about 2.5 pounds, despite consuming less energy, while the lower protein group didn’t add muscle. But the good news is that the lower protein group didn’t lose muscle, which is a predictable outcome when you lower calories and have a pretty hectic training program. Exercise — explicitly lifting weights- signals muscle retention despite a significant caloric deficit. This is good news for anyone who still wants to maintain muscle while dieting (without adding bulk). 

Here are the findings in more detail:

One: Higher protein increases muscle mass and your chances of weight loss. Philip says that the researchers were quite surprised at how much fat loss occurred through a higher protein intake. This amounted to about 10.5 pounds, whereas the lower protein group lost about 8. Both groups endured a gruelling workout six days per week, and they all became stronger and fitter and were generally in a lot better shape. Two: This is probably not the ideal training for everyone This program was specifically designed for overweight men, although it would work just as well for women — if your goal was to get fitter, stronger and lose body fat. The program was demanding and would not be a sustainable option or a quick, easy fix. These men were kept under the thumb for four weeks, which isn’t something ordinary people can do. Philip and his team are working towards conducting a similar study with women and a follow-up for all these 40 men to explore different approaches that might be a little easier and sustainable over the long term. I look forward to seeing future study results — primarily if it’s focused on women and weight loss. 

Key take away

Here is what you can get from this study and apply it to your training. One: Eating more protein increases your fat loss potential and builds more muscle. 

Two: It takes a pretty gruelling program to get results in a matter of four weeks.

That’s probably not a good option for those who work full time and have a family and other commitments. This kind of exercise takes a lot of recovery time and nutritional requirements. Good thing the researchers are now trying to come up with another alternative that we mere mortals can use. 

Three: Even if you don’t increase your protein and lower your calories — you can still maintain your muscle.

So, you can rest assured that you won’t lose your gains when dieting if you eat a good amount of protein and lift weights. Although, it’s best to follow up with a nutritionist to ensure you get the right amount of food. Check out the study here if you wish. 

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