When it comes to working out, most of us have a single-minded aim: fat burning or muscle building. The truth is, you can't do either without the other.
To build muscle and burn fat at the same time, top trainers recommend eating more often — and more protein-rich food — as well as incorporating a few moves into your routine that target all the major muscle groups.
Here are some things you should be doing in addition to your workouts as well as during your rest periods to lose fat while building lean muscle:
How to Lose Fat & Build Muscle Simultaneously
Building muscle and losing fat can happen at the same time, but avoid the common pitfalls that cause people to lose muscle in the first place, such as losing weight too quickly or overtraining. Instead take a lesson from our six tips for achieving both ends of this goal:
1) Try Some Cardio and Weightlifting
While some people focus solely on cardio or just lifting weights, doing both is key. If your goal is to slim down, you will want to do cardio; if your goal is simply to get stronger and build muscle mass, cardio may not be necessary.
However, don't forget that if you don't do cardio, you run the risk of losing valuable muscle mass while trying to slim down.
2) Incorporate Different Sets of Rep Ranges
You should start some of your workouts by doing heavy compound lifts, which are lifts that use multiple or major muscle groups. You can start doing a few sets of these in the 1-5 rep range to build maximal strength and challenge your muscles even more.
That's because the stronger you are, the better you will do in other lifts, and it will help you build muscle overall. So try out different rep ranges and types of exercises to make sure you’re getting the most out of your workouts.
3) Carbohydrates are Not Your Enemy
The macro breakdown you use can help you gain muscle without gaining fat. As you change your training routine, you may need to adjust your macros accordingly. While protein should be the first thing on your mind, don’t overlook carbs either —especially if you’re in a deficit.
The protein-sparing effect of carbohydrates can help you maintain your muscle mass while ensuring that you have enough fuel to rebuild your body after tough workouts.
4) Give Yourself Enough Time to Recover
If you're not giving your body enough time to recover between workouts, it may weaken your muscles. That can make it harder to exercise for weight loss.
When you train too hard, your performances will decline, and you will feel fatigued. To avoid overtraining, take a day or two off. Let your muscles heal so that you don't do any major damage to them.
5) Protein is an Essential Part of Your Diet
To build muscle, you need to eat right. A healthy diet of whole foods — such as fresh produce, healthy fats, complex carbohydrates, and protein — is best. If you’re trying to change your body composition, you may need to focus on consuming more protein.
It’s a good idea to eat protein-rich foods every three to four hours. That will help you maintain your body's level of protein as well as keep your metabolism working properly.
6) Exercise Regularly
Regular exercise is one of the best ways to help you maintain your muscles, but it's also important to remember that if you don't do it regularly, you're more likely to lose muscle mass.
With a five-day break in between sessions, you can start to see your lean muscle mass decline. So, get back into your routine as soon as possible to help keep off the pounds and maintain muscle tone.
You can prevent muscle loss by exercising regularly. For example, according to one study, even a five-day break is enough to see lean muscle mass reduce in size. So, exercise regularly to burn calories, and prevent your muscles from wasting.
Overall, it's easier to focus on losing fat and building muscle at the same time when you have a nutrition regime that's tailored to your fitness routine. Also, in your effort to build muscle while losing weight, never take a break from healthy eating.
Every body type is different, and what works for you may not work the same for someone else. It's important to keep yourself motivated as well. Set goals, and reward yourself with little things — the number of times you go to the gym, or how much water you drink, are good examples.