Can I Build Muscle and Lose Fat?
It’s a question that many individuals who are on the Better Health Challenge and trying to lose weight often have: Can I build muscle while losing fat? This question often comes up when you begin to lose weight, feel great and are ready for the next step in your health journey; building muscle. And the simple answer is yes, you can build muscle while losing fat. However, there will be extra work, challenges, and a new mentality you’ll have to take on in order to gain that muscle you want.
Your Weight Loss Might Slow Down
Your body might currently be a fat-burning machine, losing 3 to 5 pounds per week, but when putting on muscle, this can change drastically. The fact is: muscle weighs more than fat. Because muscle is so dense, it weighs more than fat, however, takes up less space. So you may notice clothes fitting more loosely, or your body slimming down, but the scale may not look so great—that’s ok! Health and Wellness Coach Sanjeev Javia adds, “Muscle is metabolically active, at rest it burns calories. It’s also the #1 “consumer” of calories in the body.”
This is why building muscle can be quite the challenge, when your primary goal was, or is, weight loss. Plus, you might also have to add more calories to your diet.
You’ll Need to Eat More Protein
If you’re following a calorie restrictive diet, eating more protein may pose a challenge. You’ll want to talk to your health coach about flexibility with your diet. Many of the Better Health Challenge meal plans are more restrictive on carbohydrates, so increasing protein may not be an issue. It’s another reason why you may need to change gears mentally, as far as nutrition is concerned.
Still, you’ll want to figure out what nutritional path works best for you when your goal is muscle gain. A general recommendation for protein consumption is about 1 gram per 1 pound of body weight. This might be a lot for an individual who is still trying to lose weight, so simply increasing protein intake per meal will also help. You can easily add more protein to your diet with a low carb, low fat protein shake such as FitShake.
You’ll Need to Grab some weights
Coach Jeevers explains, “You must stress/break down the muscle to build it. So best way to burn or build muscle while losing fat, it to get in the gym pick up some weights!” The only way you’ll be able to gain muscle is to add resistance training into your routine. For all you runners or cardio machine enthusiasts, this means you’re going to have to step off the treadmill and pick up some dumbbells a few times a week. The only way to get more muscle is to train them.
Below are a couple of examples of some muscle building routines that you can use as a base. Be sure to note the weights you start at. Every week, add 2 repetitions to each exercise. After 3 weeks, increase the weight and decrease the repetitions.
Lower Body Workout
10 min warm up (light jog, bike ride or jump rope with some bodyweight squats, lunges, scorpions, etc.)
Squats – 3 x 12
Lunges – 3 x 8 per leg
Alternate each week between regular lunges, reverse lunges, and side lunges
Leg Press – 3 x 10
Leg Extensions – 3 x 10
Hamstring Curls – 3 x 10
Calf Raises – 3 x 20
Upper Body Workout (Biceps, Triceps, Chest and Back)
10 min warm up (light jog, elliptical, or jump rope with a few plank variations, push-ups, scorpions, and bear crawls).
Dumbbell or Barbell Bicep Curls 3 x 12
Triceps Extensions – 3 x 12
Barbell Shoulder Press – 3 x 12
Barbell Bench Press – 3 x 12
Bench Dips – 3 x 20
Great for every Better Health Now Program!
These tips and exercises are great for those who are following any program and especially anyone who’s participating in the Better Health Challenge! If you’re just starting your weight loss journey, you may want to wait a few weeks before starting a workout program that involves weights. Let your body adjust to it’s new diet before you jump into a new workout plan as well. Also, don’t forget to add a high-quality protein supplement to your diet that supports your overall goals and help fuel muscle growth.
Remember, the more muscle you have, the more fat your body burns, so don’t be afraid to pick up some heavy weights.