If your weightloss regimen includes resistance training and a calorie-reduced diet, the following strategies will help you hang onto – or gain – muscle while you shed pounds.
GET ENOUGH PROTEIN:
To maintain lean muscle, consume at least 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight each day with foods such as lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, yogurt, milk, soy beverages, tofu and legumes.
To gain muscle while losing fat, aim for 2 to 2.4 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. For a male who weighs 88 kg (195 pounds), that means 176 grams of protein each day. To hit that target, you'd need to eat four egg whites, 14 ounces of lean meat, poultry or fish, two cups of milk, plus protein supplements.
Spread protein out: Include protein at all meals and snacks to give your muscles a constant supply of amino acids for growth. If you typically eat most of your protein at dinner, shift some to breakfast and lunch.
HAVE ENOUGH AMINO ACIDS DAILY:
Amino acids or what known as BCAA can play a big role with preserving muscles while being on a strict diet and being in caloric deficit.
SLOW DOWN ON HIIT CARDIO:
Doing multiple sessions of HIIT cardio during caloric deficit can cause you to lose some of your hard earned muscles especially if it’s done fasted and more than 20 minutes. Instead, stick with slow-steady cardio like stairmaster or elliptical.
HAVE ENOUGH PROTEIN BEFORE FASTED CARDIO:
I know a lot of fitness gurus advise a fasted cardio FASTED on an empty stomach without having anything but I ask all my clients to have a protein shake supplement before ANY fasted cardio. Having some protein in your system will ensure that you preserve some of your muscles, especially during calories deficit.
DON'T GO EXTREME LOW CARB:
If you don’t eat enough carbohydrates – e.g., whole grains, fruitS, starchy vegetables – you’ll sacrifice muscle as you lose weight. And you’ll feel weaker, too.
Carbohydrates fuel your muscles to do the work (e.g., resistance training) that stimulates them to get bigger. Without enough carbs, the extra protein you eat will be used for energy instead of muscle repair and growth.
Include a source of carbohydrate at all meals and snacks.
SUPPLEMENT WITH PROTEIN POWDER
Drink a protein shake immediately after resistance training to supply primed muscles with the amino acids needed for repair and growth. Research suggests that consuming 30 grams of protein (instead of 15 grams) after a workout is more effective at stimulating muscle protein-building.
Blend high quality Syntrax protein powder with milk or non-dairy milk and fruit (e.g., banana, berries) to get muscle-glycogen replenishing carbohydrates.
For some people, using protein supplements helps meet the higher protein requirements needed to gain muscle without going over allowable calories.