Registered dietitians are asked frequently, and more so at this time of year as athletes are getting back to training, “I want to gain muscle while losing fat, and still have energy to train. How do I do this?”
Unfortunately it is difficult for the body to do both, at the same time. Building muscle requires energy. If you are restricting Calories to lose undesired body fat, your body may not be getting the fuel it needs to create new muscle tissue. This is like going to Home Depot to buy building supplies, without bringing money to pay for the purchase – you will be sadly disappointed with the effort of the shopping trip without accomplishing the task. To minimize muscle loss and increase the potential for reducing body fat requires small changes and lasting lifestyle modifications. The following are helpful guidelines:
- Implement only a small calorie deficit
- Assure you have adequate protein intake
- Consume frequent small meals that provide adequate protein and Calories
- Incorporate resistance training to help protect against muscle loss by proving stimulation to those tissues.
The bottom line short-term diet restrictions that do not result in lasting, lifestyle modifications are short-terms fixes to a long-term goal.