By: Sue Pasqual
Isn’t it funny how when we were younger we were able to eat (almost) anything we wanted and not gain weight? Now, it can be much harder to maintain the same physique – but that’s especially true for maintaining body composition! If you’re looking to shed excess pounds without shedding valuable muscle, we’ve got your guide on how to avoid losing muscle during weight loss!
Growing up, I was always was active and involved in structured and recreational sports. I actually never thought to diet while growing up, so it’s scary that kids of all ages, some as young as 7 or 8, talk about going on diets! The reality is that times have changed and what “worked” when we were teenagers just does not and cannot work for us now.
Maintaining Body Composition
All of us know that person who thinks they can out-exercise a bad diet or that severe restriction is the way to go. Sure, they may see the scale move – but those aren’t results that are creating the healthy physique they’re after! Most people find out too late that those bad habits actually cause fat gain, fluid loss, and muscle loss.
Why You Want to Avoid Losing Muscle During Weight Loss
There are a few reasons to avoid losing muscle, but a common driver is to avoid becoming what some call “skinny fat”. The official medical term is “metabolically obese normal weight”, and it refers to someone who may be a healthy weight for their height but has too high of a body fat percentage and not enough muscle. While it definitely won’t get you the toned physique you want, it’s also very unhealthy to carry around that much body fat!
How to Avoid a Metabolically Obese Normal Weight (MONW)
The men and women I speak to look for that lean and healthy physique that exudes the “I am fit, healthy, a feel amazing” vibe. To achieve that look takes consistency and dedication, but mostly common sense.
Eat Healthily & Enough
We cannot have a fit and healthy body if we feed it high fat, high sugar foods. We especially can’t achieve that body if we starve ourselves to try and get it. They say “you are what you eat”, and I truly believe that saying holds true. If we eat a well-balanced and nutritious diet consisting of protein, healthy carbohydrates (fruits, vegetables, high-fiber grains), and healthy fats, then we’re more likely to notice the same healthy balance in our bodies.
For some people, it may not be as easy as simply switching up diet. Some of us have a long history of unhealthy habits and beliefs surrounding food that requires us to retrain our brains. What worked for us 30 years ago probably isn’t going to work the exact same for us today – and that’s okay! We forget our hormones and activity levels change. The quality of the foods we may have eaten back then have changed, too – often times for the worse. Bodies change, foods change, and it’s totally normal! We just have to be willing to change our habits accordingly.
Exercise – with Weights!
Perform strength or resistance exercises 3+ times per week. It doesn’t have to be 2 hours per day or maxing out each movement, but you need to show your body that muscle is being used in order for it to start using resources to build! Consider targeting all major muscle groups by using compound exercises. Add in cardiovascular exercise as needed, but don’t let it become your only focus.
Remember Your Protein
Avoiding the loss of muscle during your weight loss efforts to obtaining that lean and strong physique means putting protein first! Exercise coupled with the right amounts of protein will help your muscles build and grow, also boosting your metabolism in the process. Skimping on the major food groups, particularly protein, often leaves us deprived and hungry while also affecting our metabolism. Our bodies are smart. It will always take what it needs to survive first, and that may mean breaking down muscle for energy if you aren’t fueling properly. If you have trouble meeting your protein goals, remember you have your TLS® Whey Protein, Plant-Based Protein, and Nutrition Shakes to help!
Although it may seem easy to maintain a healthy and lean physique, it does take commitment and dedication. Don’t worry, you and your body are worth it!