The Right Diet

The most common problem while trying to lose weight is that you lose muscle instead of losing fat. Fat loss and weight loss are two different things. Making the distinction between the two will ultimately influence your fitness plan. Losing fat requires a specialized approach. A balanced and healthy diet coupled with the right exercise regimen is the best approach to losing fat while maintaining muscle.

Create a calorie deficit

A calorie deficit occurs when the calories you burn is greater than the calories you ingest. To lose fat, you need to consume fewer calories than you burn each day and exercise regularly. When this happens, it forces your body to find an alternative source of energy to burn, which is your stored body fat. It is advisable to start with a moderate deficit of around 500 calories.

Eat a protein rich diet

This is the most important dietary factor for maintaining muscle. For most people, something in the range of 0.8–1.3 grams of protein per kilogram of their current body weight is the optimum quantity for preserving muscle, during weight loss. It is best to consume high quality proteins such as lean red meat, poultry, seafood, beans, lentils, tofu, nuts or natural nut butter, eggs and low fat dairy.

Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables

Both of these food groups are fairly low in calories but high in nutrients and can provide extra bulk to the diet. This can help make a lower calorie meal plan more filling and satisfying while adding healthy vitamins and minerals to the diet.

Consider additional supplements

Protein and amino acid supplements offer great anabolic support to athletes on a regular exercise plan. Getting another 15–30 g of protein daily from these drinks may help to meet minimum protein intake, increase weight loss and prevent loss of muscle mass. Always read the nutrition and calorie content in the supplement that you take, so that you include these calories in your plan.

The Right Exercise

Slow and easy methods of aerobic exercise such as walking on a treadmill at an incline, an easy bike ride, or a light jog qualify for moderate aerobic activity. Ideally an exercise that raises your heart rate and breathing to a level where it is still comfortable for you to say short sentences without stopping for a breath, come under moderate cardio. These exercises promote more blood circulation to help clear lactic acid and metabolic waste. It supports more intense workouts, better recovery between sets, and more results at the gym. Experts recommend about 150 minutes of cardio each week.

Strength training can be done two to three times per week. This may be a combination of weightlifting, bodyweight exercises and resistance band exercises. Always start with low weight loads and fewer repetitions. Gradually work your way up to heavier weights or more repetitions. This will help avoid injury. Strength training helps prevent muscle loss while increasing muscle mass. Make sure your routine is balanced and targets all the main muscle groups.

This is a combination of strength training and cardio in short bursts of high and moderate intensity exercises. You can do these types of activity for shorter amounts of time. Studies show that this type of activity helps support fat loss.

Recovery is just as important as your training, especially during a calorie-deficit phase. Since you are putting your body through the tremendous stress of calorie-restriction and heavy weights, you need time to let your muscles recover and rebuild. Do it in a phased out manner. Losing weight quickly may contribute to muscle loss. It is best to lose a small amount of weight each week over a longer period.

Proper fueling and recovery

When you are dieting, working out and aiming to maintain or build muscle mass, it is important to focus on proper nutrition immediately before and after a workout. Light carbohydrates and BCAAs are recommended 30–60 minutes before work out. It is important to drink hydrating fluids before workout. Immediately after workout, it is important to continue drinking hydrating fluids and a small meal or snack that is rich in protein. Post-work out snacks include peanut butter chocolate milk, dried fruit and nuts, or a fruit smoothie with added protein powder.

It is important to set attainable, realistic goals while trying to lose weight. Staying consistent in your approach while continuing to focus on your progress can help you achieve your weight-loss goals the right way.