Wanting to “get toned” is one of the most common requests we hear at Outlaw FitCamp from new clients. And we love to hear that because it tells us people are concerned with more than just losing weight. It’s much better for your long-term health and fitness to build muscle at the same time as you burn fat.
This process of doing both is known as body recomposition. It’s not as easy as only losing weight or only building muscle, but it can be done. Our certified personal trainers are well-trained in how to achieve this, and we can help you accomplish it.
Here are ten important things to keep in mind while you’re trying to lose fat and build muscle at the same time:
1) Don’t worry so much about the number on the scales
Getting fit and toned isn’t about weight loss; it’s about fat loss. The scales won’t reflect your progress as well as other measurements will. You may maintain your current weight, or even gain weight, as you tone and change your body.
Because muscle is denser than fat, you may gain weight but have a smaller physique as you progress. Instead of worrying about your weight, take measurements of your waist, arms, hips, and thighs. Or take progress photos every month or so. These will give you a better picture of your progress than the scales will.
2) Decide you’re in the long game
Even separately, healthy weight loss takes time and building muscle the right way takes time. Put them together, and you must be committed to sticking to your fitness plan for the long-haul. The good news is this slow but steady process of body recomposition offers results that are easy to sustain for as long as you maintain your good habits.
3) Do cardio exercise to burn fat, but keep the intensity down
When doing cardio exercises, try to keep your heart rate under 120 beats per minute. When it gets higher than that, you may start burning muscle which is not what you want. Also make sure you’re eating fewer calories on cardio days so your body will use the fat it already has as fuel—not newly consumed calories.
4) Do strength gaining exercises a few days each week to build muscle
For your body to build muscle mass, you need to lift enough weights for your muscles to reach a point of fatigue. This causes your muscles to tear and break down—and that’s a good thing! The repair process is what makes you more defined by building stronger muscles. Make sure to eat more calories on weight training days, so your body has plenty of fuel for this important muscle repair.
5) Don’t starve yourself
We’ve said it many times, and we’ll keep saying it. Eat enough healthy calories to fuel your body. When you don’t take in enough calories, it harms your metabolism. Not consuming sufficient calories causes your body to break down muscle for fuel and hold onto fat—definitely not what you’re working toward!
6) Watch your diet
Of course, all calories are not equal. When you’re trying to build muscle, what you eat is especially important. Eat a healthy diet rich in whole foods: fresh produce, complex carbohydrates, protein, fiber, and healthy fats. Limit refined carbohydrates, processed foods, and sugar. These dietary guidelines are always important, but especially when you’re trying to tone your body.
7) Prioritize foods high in protein
Studies show that a high-protein diet can help you lose fat and build muscle at the same time. Protein is especially helpful for building muscle. Without enough protein in your diet, your muscles will have a difficult time repairing the muscle tissues that get broken down during your workout, and this rebuilding is what makes your muscle mass increase.
8) Increase your fiber intake
In addition to increasing protein, it’s also important to increase the fiber in your diet while trying to tone. Eating fiber-rich foods, such as vegetables and beans will help decrease your body fat. It also increases your feeling of fullness and satisfaction after eating. Unfortunately, less than five percent of people in the U.S. consume enough fiber for a healthy diet.
9) Eat before and after your workout
Carbohydrates are what your body prefers to burn for fuel first, so eating a small carb-rich snack before you workout is helpful. A piece of fruit is a good choice. After your workout, eat some protein and complex carbs.
Remember that muscles don’t grow in the gym, they grow when you sleep. Getting enough rest is important for both fat loss and muscle gain. You’ll reach your goals easier when you give your body time to rest. Make sure to take off one or two days from your workouts each week, and to get enough sleep.
Yes, you can lose fat and build muscle at the same time
For long-lasting health and fitness goals, it’s important to concentrate not only on losing weight, but on gaining muscle at the same time. Changing your body composition won’t happen overnight, but with patience and the right know-how, you’ll reap the long-term benefits of body recomposition.
Call us today and we’ll show you how we can help you achieve this goal!