About 42% of adults in America are affected by obesity and other unhealthy weight gain issues. And, what is even more worrying is that the options for fast food and unhealthy drinks continue to increase. This is making it increasingly difficult for most Americans to maintain a healthy weight.
With so much focus lately on healthy eating habits and exercise, let’s talk about effective ways to reduce fat while increasing muscle.
Cutting Down on Calories
There seems to be a lot of talk about calorie consumption anytime the issue of healthy or unhealthy weight is brought up. But there are very few tips available on how to cut down calorie consumption in a healthy way. The logic is simple; to lose weight, you need to consume fewer calories than your metabolism can burn. If done too severely, your body can be deprived of needed energy. If done too loosely, you may not see positive results.
Try to do a rough calculation of how many calories you consume in a day – with respect to your eating habits. This should tell just how much you need to lose.
Increase Protein Intake
Protein plays an important role in healthy living. Increasing the amount of protein you consume comes with several benefits. But for the purposes of this discussion, we will focus on the weight benefits. Muscle protein production speeds up when more protein is consumed. This makes it less difficult to pack on healthy muscle mass – of course, with some exercise. Protein also plays another important role in healthy weight management. It is very filling, as a result, reduces the temptation to eat more. Consider increasing the amount of protein you consume on a daily basis to 2 grams per pound of your body weight.
Most strength trainers trumpet the benefits of strength training in weight management – and rightly so. And one of the most effective strength training techniques is weight lifting.
Weight lifting techniques such as the high pull are very effective in burning unhealthy fat, strengthening the core, and increasing muscle mass. Other techniques, such as using resistance bands, or using the bodyweight to offer resistance, also produce very impressive results. Strength training requires the right technique and training schedule to achieve the right results. So be sure to speak with a qualified strength trainer to design a program suited to you.
Eat the Right Carbs
This topic raises some levels of confusion among people trying to lose weight. Most people have been advised to cut down on carbs considerably and many popular diets try to avoid carbs altogether. The different schools of thought are sometimes conflicting. But the general consensus is that eating more unrefined carbs such as whole grain, high fiber foods will keep you in good stead. Refined carbs include white flour, sugars and low fiber foods and that is what you need to cut back on.
Don’t completely avoid the carbs. There are two main periods when you need them the most – a couple of hours before a workout and immediately after it. Carbs play a very important role in muscle recovery after a workout. They also provide the body with enough energy to burn during a workout. During the rest of the day, or during times when you’re not working out, consume carbs sourced from high-fiber vegetables. This will help to keep your energy levels at the appropriate levels throughout the day.
Consume Healthy Fats
You might be wondering why you should consume any fat at all if you’re planning to lower your fat level. Well, just like we said about carbs, you should not completely get rid of fat from your diet – just consume healthy fat. Too many people stay away from fat in an attempt to lose weight. Instead, they end up losing their healthy nails and hair as well.
Contrary to what many people think, healthy fat actually plays a positive role in weight loss or weight management. It also supports the right level hormones as well as cell structure – two of the most important factors in healthy weight management and muscle building.
Besides that, healthy fat gives an added advantage of making a person feel full, thus consuming less during the day. Some examples of healthy fat food include sardine, salmon, avocado, egg yolk, coconut oil, chia and flax seeds, to name a few.
We have already touched on strength training. But cardiovascular exercises are not the same as strength training. The former has more to do with exercise that depends mainly on aerobic energy generation. This focuses more on raising the heartbeat and breathing rate at different intensity levels, ranging from moderate to vigorous.
As important as cardio is for reducing fat and increasing muscle mass, most people incorporate in it the wrong way. For example, most people try to burn fat by engaging in intense cardio workouts for lengthy periods at a time. As much as this works for burning calories, the same should not be sad for burning fat – these are two different things.
Lengthy periods of intensive cardio can cause the human body to burn tissue when there are not enough calories to burn. The best thing to do is to use cardio to burn fat, not calories. How? By using high-intensity interval (HIIT) training. HIIT helps to maintain muscle while using fat as fuel to burn.
This may sound pretty simple, but it may be more important than you can imagine. Never understand the power of sleep and stress management when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight. We have mentioned the importance of cardio and strength training. But one of the important ‘ingredients’ in improving muscle mass is getting proper sleep. Sleep deprivation, especially after a workout, makes it almost impossible for the muscle to recover fully. And instead of having a well-toned muscle frame, you may instead end with so many muscle-related injuries.
Stress can also lead to a very slow metabolism. This will make it very difficult to lose the weight you want to. In fact, many people gain weight when they are stressed for a long time. This is partly due to the hormones that attract extra fat and cause the body to hold unhealthy fluid while losing some of the muscle mass.