You might have heard before that if you lose weight incorrectly muscle will burn instead of fat, but you might not have understood why or how to burn fat and not muscle.
The reasons why are easy to comprehend. You don’t want to get rid of the muscle that your body has built up because a toned body is what you are trying to achieve and getting rid of muscle will keep you from having a toned body. Also, the more muscle you have on the body, the more fat you will burn for the same amount of energy expenditure.
Burning fat while building muscle is important then because you will reach your goals a lot faster the more muscle you have. How do you ensure that you only learn how to burn fat and not muscle? The answers might surprise you.
1. Eat Enough Calories
Sure, it might seem like backward advice, but the fact is, if you don’t eat enough calories, you aren’t going to be able to keep the muscle that you want. Knowing how to burn fat and not muscle starts with knowing how many calories you burn with your BMR – without calculating any additional exercise – and only including the calories that it takes to maintain your physical processes.
To burn off fat, you need to stay within that window between the caloric reduction required to lose weight (your total calories consumed minus your total calories eaten) and the minimum amount of calories per day that your body needs to digest food, which is your BMR or basal metabolic rate.
To get a calculation of how many calories your minimum should be, you can use an online calculator or one of the weight loss apps that are out there like MyFitnessPal or MyNetDiary to get the numbers that you need to stay healthy.
2. Eat Enough Protein
So, can you burn fat and gain muscle without sacrificing the meat and many other foods that you love? In fact, you can; protein is one of the number one ways that you’re body can learn how to burn fat and not muscle.
In fact, there are no dietary instructions as important is making sure that you have enough protein. All of the other things that you’ve heard that are the most important tasks when it comes to dieting are secondary if you don’t eat enough protein.
There are some pretty significant benefits to getting enough protein. For one thing, this is the substance that your muscles need if you want to build them. Get enough protein, and you have a much easier time building muscle. Also, eating enough protein satisfies your cravings and hunger and allows you to diet more successfully.
3. Skip the Cardio
If anyone is ever advised you to do a lot of cardio if you want to have weight loss without muscle loss – they were wrong. Remember, if you are reducing your calories then you are also going to have to lessen the amount of work out you do not increase it.
It is a problem that many people don’t realize they are having. When they do too much cardio, their calorie deficit goes below the number that they need to stay above to not burn any muscle, and then they add weight training to it which makes it even more likely to lose that lean muscle.
Of course, if you want to build and keep your muscle you are going to have to do strength training. But skip the cardio if you can stay above your BMR because cardio burns a lot of calories.
4. Get Your Nutrition Right
You want to make sure that you get your nutrients when dieting. The plan that you follow before you work out is different than the one for after you work out. While there may be some that claim that for fat loss you don’t have to worry about this, the opposite is true.
All of the things that make up your training performance reduce when you go on a diet and have a calorie budget. That’s exactly why getting the right nutrition before your workout and afterward is important – even more important than if you weren’t trying to lose fat. You can look into some different diet plans that are recommended for your type of work out, but the important thing is to make sure that you pay attention to your nutrition.
5. Maintain Muscle Building Once You’ve Started
It is also important that you don’t stop building muscle once you started. Some experts claim that this is the most important thing to keep in mind if you’re doing strength training for fat loss and muscle gain.
As you work out, and you begin getting stronger and being able to do more and more weight, your body will build up that muscle because it is receiving the signals that tell it to do so. When you’re trying to lose fat you need to keep the weight that you’ve been training with consistent because if you go down, then your body is going to be much more willing to get rid of muscle because it thinks it doesn’t need it.
So don’t follow the poor advice that says to do less weight with more reps when you want to lose fat because nothing could be further from the truth.
In fact, if you’re not overweight, or you’re already lean and just looking to find a diet for muscle gain and fat loss, a big caloric deficit will make you lose a little muscle even with enough protein and strength training. So, learning how to burn fat and not muscle, is to be in a caloric deficit without leaving yourself feeling hungry, make sure that your diet plan gives you plenty of protein and make your exercise efforts on doing regular strength training.