For many of us, losing weight is about becoming a slimmer and more toned version of ourselves. However, focusing on decreasing calories on their own might not give us the toned results we’re looking for. So, how do we go about balancing the tone with the weight loss?
The key lies in being able to decrease fat while building muscle.
The core principles of weight loss
Weight loss begins with a change in lifestyle that increases the energy that we spend compared to the energy we get from food. This can be achieved through diet but is often paired with exercise. To start out, you need to set a calorie deficit – meaning that you should decide how much you’re going to cut down your calorie intake by. Usually decreasing intake by around 300-500 calories is a good place to start1.
There are other considerations when altering your nutrition. One of these is to lower the amount of fats you consume to about 25-30% of your daily calories2. Another one is to increase fiber to around 17 g a day3.
The next thing to think about is how much you exercise. The general recommendation is to get about 150 active minutes a week, whether that is through walking, sports, or any other type of exercise4. Your main priority should be in learning to maintain a calorie deficit however, as exercise-caused weight loss is usually not as effective as dietary changes5.
The core principles of muscle gain
Gaining muscle relies on the same core principles. Nutrition remains important – you need enough overall energy to build muscle, but you also need enough building blocks, amino acids6. To do so, you need to get plenty of protein, around 1.6 g per kg of in regular intervals through the day7,8.
Boosting your protein intake can be challenging, which is why you might consider adding a protein powder to your routine. Protein shakes are an excellent snack, proving your body with plenty of amino acids to build muscle. Maxler 100% Golden Whey is an excellent choice of a highly digestible 24 g of protein in each serving. It has wonderful flavors too, meaning you won’t ever feel like increasing protein is a chore.
Otherwise, if you’re looking to support muscle building through the night, consider a slow-release protein like casein. Maxler Golden Casein will supply your body with 23 g of complete protein all through the night.
Alongside nutrition, exercise is key if you’re trying to build muscle. Strength training sends essential signals to the muscle, kickstarting the process of making more protein. Increased reps and loads help you grow more muscle9.
Building muscle while shedding pounds
In order to lose weight but be toned, you need to balance the aspects of weight loss and muscle gain. But how can you do that in real life?
It comes down to choosing the correct type of exercise and diet.
When you’re losing fat, you might be tempted to increase the cardio that you do – while it has overall benefits and will help you lose fat, you won’t be working on building the toned muscle you’re looking for10. Therefore, you’ll need to strike a balance – ensure that you’re building muscle through strength training (and don’t forget to increase intensity as you get better) while also getting cardio a couple times a week. This approach will work for both novices wanting to get fit and professional athletes wanting to decrease their fat mass without compromising muscle11.
In terms of nutrition, there are a few simple things to keep in mind. First, get plenty of protein, around 1.6-2.0 g per kilo of weight, but feel free to increase it further if need be12. Alongside that, you need to be in a caloric deficit or meeting your maintenance calories13.
So, overall, it comes down to this:
- Increase your protein intake to around 2.0 g per kg;
- Maintain a reasonable calorie deficit;
- Increase the amount of strength training you do.
Reshaping with the help of supplements – boosting efficiency
If you’re trying to build muscle while losing weight, there are a few supplements you can consider. One of them is polyunsaturated fatty acids, such as omega-3. These fats are key for health, and are a key part of a healthy body16. If you’re lowering the amount of fats you’re consuming, you might not be getting enough of them. Try Maxler Omega-3 Gold for an easy way to get highly bioavailable omega-3s.
Another one is creatine. Creatine monohydrate is one of the supplements that has been studied most extensively. It’s a great aid in building muscle quickly and helping your muscles look full and lean. Malxer 100% Golden Creatine is a fantastic choice for those looking for an easy-to-absorb form that won’t leave you with an upset stomach.
Finally, if you’ve already got plenty of muscle and you’re thinking of going on a calorie deficit, consider BCAAs. These are a few amino acids that promote muscle building17. Alongside that, BCAAs are a great help in maintaining muscle during calorie restriction18. Try Maxler 100% Golden BCAA for an easy way to incorporate these amino acids into your routine. For those that prefer the convenience of tabs, BCAA 8400 is a vegan BCAA supplement that provides you with 8.4 g of BCAAs in tab form.
As you go down the path of recomposing your body through decreasing fat and increasing muscle, you might need to re-evaluate how you measure success. If you’re not seeing the scales go down, don’t fret – you might be losing fat at the same speed as you’re gaining muscle. Consider measuring the circumference of your waist and legs or take regular pictures of your progress to track changes instead.